Visiting the farmers’ market is one of my favorite weekly rituals, wherever we’re living. When I lived in Brooklyn, I shopped for weekly groceries each Saturday at Grand Army Plaza. In Montreal, we took long weekend bike rides to Jean-Talon for cherries and nectarines. In Portland, Maine, it was a quick stroll to Deering Oaks Park for the makings of clam chowder.
We’re now living in Split, Croatia until mid-March. The woman renting her apartment to us gave us the lay of land upon arrival: “The Split greenmarket is down this road every day. The butcher is over there. The bakery is around this corner.” From that point, I knew I’d love my time here.
Shopping in Split takes place primarily via the daily greenmarket and fish market, the local butchers and bakers. We’ve been walking the five minutes to the market most mornings before starting the work day. Since we both work from home, two or three home-cooked meals a day for two people requires frequent replenishment.
Strolling to the Split markets often brings us to Diocletian’s Palace. The Palace forms the old part of town; Roman Emperor Diocletian built the walled-in medieval structure as his retirement home. The greenmarket lies just outside the Palace’s Eastern wall, for instance. Shopping for the day’s fare in the shadow of a Roman palace from the 4th century is… distracting. I buy a jar of honey. I gawk. I grab a scoop of walnuts. I gawk.
I’ve read you have to haggle at the Split greenmarket, although we haven’t gathered the courage to do so yet. For now, we’re doing our best to communicate what we want, learn how much it costs, and hand over our kuna (the Croatian currency) in the correct amount.
What’s seasonal and available mid-winter along the Dalmatian coast? We’ve stocked up on citrus of all sorts, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, carrots, and plenty of potatoes.
We also get Dalmatian cheeses, fresh eggs, and scoopfuls of nuts, dried fruits, and dried beans. We’ve been noshing on walnuts, almonds, and prunes all week.
Our meals revolve around whatever looks tastiest. This is especially true at the butcher, where our options change with each visit. The language barrier pushes us to shop with our eyes here. We recently came in for the lamb shank — we’d seen some the other day. Instead, we left with a loin cut (I think?). No matter. Joe slow cooked it with our day’s vegetable haul, white wine, and Dalmatian spices for a delicious dinner.
(What does remain constant: The ‘gratis’ pork sausage the butcher adds to our purchases.)
Joe’s favorite: the bakery around the corner from our apartment. They sell their breads right from a window on the sidewalk. We walked in for a half loaf of bread and walked out with a full loaf of pinca. It’s a sweet loaf, served on Sundays and Easter, that’s lemony and eggy with a crunchy topping. We tore it apart standing right at the kitchen counter.
Settling into each new home can be stressful. We need to establish new routines. Explore our new surroundings. Adjust to a different time zone. Learn our way around a new apartment. Exploring Split by way of its markets has helped ease the transition.
And now that we’ve settled in: Where should we go? What should we do? What should we EAT? Croatia is our home for the next six weeks — plenty of time for adventuring.