What’s so special about Croatian limestone?

Reason #136: there’s something special about this limestone

I bet if we asked a bunch of people here to use just one word to describe this island most of them would say – stone (Croatian: kamen)

limestone
Photo courtesy of the Tourist Board of Selca

As in limestone. As in, we’re surrounded by it, everything is made out of it, people work with it, live off of it, we love it, we hate it…. stone.

IMG_7637

One of the many stone quarries on Brač.

IMG_7662
Photos by Anton Whittle. A man who loves hanging out in Brački quarries :)

It’s not just Brač, a good portion of the entire country is made up of limestone. Here’s an article that explains it: Wisegeek.com – What is so special about Croatian limestone?

The article mentions that the White House (THE White House) is made of Croatian limestone. To be precise, it’s only the Oval Office, and it wasn’t just any Croatian limestone, it was the best kind. Yes, you guessed it – Brački kamen ;)

Limestone oases

Reason #132: get yourself a sinkhole and plant a crop

IMG-20140506-02209

Deserts have their oases and karst topography has sinkholes where fertile soil is found. Soil is otherwise scarce on Brač, as it’s mostly made of limestone.

If your land plot has one, you’re lucky because you don’t have to dig up too many rocks to find soil. And the soil found in sinkholes is usually very fertile, too.

To give you a bigger picture, a large part of Croatia is made up of karst topography. The most notable area is Plitvice Lakes, a National park that’s on the UNESCO Heritage listing for this particular reason.

No thyme for Scarborough Fair

Reason #127: parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme

Hiking or cycling on Brač in April and May you feel like you’re in flower heaven. Colors and smells are fantastic. Sage and rosemary are practically everywhere you look. And with parsley in your garden, you know what that means… you can’t help but hum Scarborough Fair as you go ;)

IMG-20140506-02186
Sage in the wild

IMG-20140506-02190
Growing out of a rock

IMG-20140506-02214
Sage planted to decorate public spaces 

IMG-20140127-00924

IMG-20140222-01038
Rosemary. This was taken back in February when it was in bloom.

IMG-20140505-02151
Parsley in our garden

Now all we’re missing is some thyme. Obviously we can’t show up at the Scarborough Fair until we have all four. The guidebook tells us it’s definitely here somewhere, so off I go:

IMG-20140507-02222

————————–

Scarborough Fair by Simon & Garfunkel

Guidebook to 103 wild plants on Brač

Reason #126: now you can use a guidebook to find all the amazing plants in the wild

Dalmatia is bursting with amazing flora, tons of plants, flowers and herbs. Islands, such as Brač, are especially rich and relatively untouched ecosystems.

Now there’s a fantastic pocket guidebook available to us nouveau-locals and visitors. “Vodič za šetnju prirodom – 103 samonikle biljke otoka Brača” (Hiker’s guidebook – 103 wild plants of Brač)

IMG-20140507-02224

internet-ponuda-biljke

Kudos to the authors Tija Mlinac and Marisa Škaljac. Here they are promoting the book at the public library in Selca:

samoniklo_promocija

plants
Photos courtesy of knjižnica Hrvatski sastanak 1888, Selca

You can buy the guidebook at public libraries on Brač, or online: Purchase info @ super affordable 50kn

Shopping center? What’s that?

Reason #123: there are no shopping centers on Brač

In an era of excessive consumerism and when family lifestyle in big cities often sadly centers around visits to shopping malls, it’s so refreshing to live in an area without any.

And to get to the nearest one in Split would take all day and two boat rides. Excellent!

Yes, I’m sure that many locals disagree with me and would love to have a shopping mall on the island, but fortunately enough Brač is too small of a market for investors to get any return of ka-ching. So, it’s highly unlikely we’ll see one. Phew!

Photo submitted in evidence of non-existence of shopping malls. I dare you to zoom in and find me one ;)

IMG_8745_corr_s
Joking aside, if you do look closely, you’ll see a man building foundations for a very non-shoppingcentric structure there. 

Mišanca – edible wild greens

Reason 113: you can pick your own wild greens and cook a healthy, yummy meal

This particular reason for living on Brač would probably make my top ten on any given day. What you need here is a plastic bag (Konzum, Tommy, Kerum, Studenac… any of these will do ;)), a handy knife, knowing where to look and which plants are edible. The latter two I’m not good at yet, so for now I just go with Aunt Nada and follow her lead. IMG-20140226-01074 Once you’ve got a bag full, you can go home and clean it before cooking. IMG-20140226-01075 Cooking is simple. Just boil the water, add some salt and don’t cook for too long. You can also add potatoes, and if you don’t have a lot of mišanca, add any other greens you can buy or grow, such as blitva (chard). Blitva and potatoes will also soften the otherwise strong flavor of concentrated mišanca, if that’s prefereable. IMG-20140223-01049

Some of the plants that go into mišanca: žutinica, kostrič, radič, divlji luk, koromač, martaduha.

There is a guidebook on Brač wild plants which can help you identify the mišanca plants. Read about the guidebook here.

Don’t let the snails fool you

Reason#107: snails are not as cute and innocent as they would have you think

We’ve had a few April showers last few days and that means the snails will come out.

I always thought they looked funny and cute.

IMG-20140409-01499

IMG-20140409-01503

But they are not as innocent as they appear. As a city girl until recently I was totally clueless, but now that I have my precious greens growing in the garden I know full well that snails are evil. Yes, evil. They feast on my beautiful greens and leave ugly holes in the leaves. Bad snails!

Poskok wannabe

Reason #97: carve out a wooden snake if you can’t find the real deal

(Mama, ne čitaj dalje. Slika zmije! Nije prava, ali sliči.)

Poskok is the most poisonous snake in Europe and we got them on Brač. But more on the real deal in another post.

This post is dedicated to its impostor, a wannabe Poskok carved out of a piece of wood found on Vidova gora.

The fact that it’s fake won’t help my mom who’s terrified of anything that even resembles a snake. Let’s hope she reads the warning before she looks further.

IMG-20140406-01475

The artist is Jurica aka “Lola”, a fellow hiker in the “Profunda” hiking club. It took him about 10 minutes, as something to do on a marenda (brunch/lunch) break.

Wild asparagus

Reason #80: here on Brač you can find wild asparagus – super healthy and yummy

If you have good eyesight, that is. They’re notoriously difficult to spot.

IMG-20140306-01129

As you can see (hopefully), they’re much thinner than their domesticated counterparts.

IMG-20140306-01128

Don’t overcook them, there’s no need. You could even eat them raw, especially if you don’t find enough of them for a decent sized meal.

Season with just olive oil and vinegar. Serve with a hard boiled egg and enjoy!

IMG-20140309-01198

 

And here’s a very short video about “the hunt” :)

Mmmm… smells lovely, and costs nothing

Reason #73: in springtime you can pick flowers in the wild and your house will smell great

Did everyone else already know this but me? That freesias smell great!

IMG-20140303-01084
Don’t know if you can tell, but the cat is very pleased with the freesias, too.

The great thing about it is that you pick these flowers in the wild, meaning you’ve had a nice walk outdoors and they were for free (which we, Bračani, really like :)).

Also in the wild: daffodils, hyacinths…

IMG-20140306-01130
There’s wild asparagus in that bunch, too. Not for smelling, for eating :)

…. and cyclamen.

IMG-20140306-01119

And tons more. Just come on over to Brač in early spring if you like flowers and hiking.

To all the Selčanke

Reason 67: the women of Selca

Here’s a bouquet of wild flowers for all the ladies of Selca on this International Women’s Day.

IMG-20140306-01133

To all the moms, grandmas, sisters, daughters, aunts . To all the married ones, single, widowed and divorced ones. To stay-at-home moms, to entrepreneurs and other working women. You cook and clean and bake and take care of everyone. To the wonderful nuns who take care of our grandmas at the old persons’ home . To our doctor and nurses. To the waitresses in our cafes. To the teachers and the staff at the elementary school. To our hairdressers. To the women working at the općina, tourist board, pharmacy, supermarket… to all of them. You are wonderful! :)

And did you think today would go by without a party? No way, check this out:IMG-20140304-01097Poster inviting us to a Woman’s Day party at Ružmarin (restaurant in Selca). There’ll be live music by Trio Brač and lots of food and drinks, of course. 

I was told there’s going to be old-fashioned ballroom dancing, so that’s exciting. But I was also told you need a date for one of these things, so I’ll have to give it a miss. Maybe next year :)

UPDATE: the ball was cancelled and later I found out that there was a strip show in Povlja. A strip show, with an actual stripper. A male stripper…. and I missed it!!!

IMG-20140310-01204
Poster advertising a Women’s Day show with live music from Duo No Stress, plus a male stripper. The poster is stuck to a bus stop in Novo Selo. 

Wild horses on Brač

Reason #65: you could run into a horse in the wild

They say they’re not wild wild, more like semi-domesticated slash wild. But they rein free and nobody owns them, so that’s all that matters.

Wild Horses
Photo was taken by Malcom, (aka Selca on Flickr). Thank you for letting me share!

I hope I run into one of these gorgeous creatures some day.