Saturday, November 21, 2015

Let's have Coffee-- in Croatia!

Thanks so much for your kind comments on my Paris Love Story. After the recent tragic events in that city we've visited so often and love so dearly, I wasn't sure whether I could continue with the many posts I'd tentatively planned about our recent time there. But for some reason, I kept flashing back to the image of Pater waiting for me at Notre Dame, and somehow the personal and particular allowed me a re-entry. I've decided to go ahead and unroll those pieces on restaurants and exhibitions and travel thoughts in general, over the next several weeks -- Paris will continue to depend on tourism, after all, and if Parisians are making the effort to resume their daily lives, I hope my posts-to-come can pay them some small tribute. 

Meanwhile, though, we'll make another stop, elsewhere in Europe. A few weeks ago, Lisa responded to one of our mutual blog readers, a faithful (and bright and erudite) commenter who goes by the nom-de-plume Dottoressa, that perhaps D might write a guest post for her. I greedily piggy-backed on this suggestion, and the Doctor and I began an e-mail conversation that has resulted in this treat for you today.  Dottoressa's one apprehension over accepting my invitation was that English is a Second Language for her (she has several languages -- I'm envious and admiring!). I think you'll agree that she needn't have worried. I changed the spelling of one word throughout, but otherwise, this charming insight into Croatian culture is as written by D.

So without further ado, as they so often say in introductions, here she is. Grab your coffee and let's all pretend we're joining Dottoressa in Zagreb. . . Wouldn't that be wonderful?!

Hi! I'm Dottoressa from Zagreb, Croatia, EU. I am honoured to be invited as a guest of the Materfamilias blog , so I stopped by to have a cup of coffee with you. It is not a mistake, just wait a minute and see for yourself.

Visitors to Croatia from all around the world (we are a small, but very beautiful country next to the Adriatic Sea) assume that we are coffee addicts (and from our point of view we certainly are not) and find our coffee culture (yes, it's a culture!) quite peculiar.

Coffee in Croatia is more of a social event than a simple beverage with caffeine. Café (or coffeehouse) is the place we go to when we want to meet with friends to talk and have a laugh (or solve a problem with their help), to make (or break) a business deal, ask for a favour, go on a date (or sign divorce papers), or simply take a break and read the newspapers. And if someone invites you for a cup of coffee in Croatia, she/he usually picks up the check (we seem to be nice people, don't we?). However, if you don't drink coffee , no problem, because you'll go for a coffee and have a soda, some wine, beer or water (you can drink tap water in Zagreb, it is good and one usually gets a glass of water with the coffee) and even green or herbal tea. If you are a black tea lover (like me) and a connoisseur, it would be wise to bring your own tea bags. I apologize to all our cafés which may have good tea blends to offer. Let me know!

Something small can go a long way in our cafés. We may drink an espresso for more than an hour, enjoying every little sip ever so slowly (and our waiters take this as normal!). An average espresso shot is 1.7 fl oz and contains 77 mg of caffeine, which you can compare with Starbucks’ coffee sizes. A ‘short’ is 8 fl oz with 180 mg of caffeine in it and a ‘grande’ is 16 fl oz (wow!) with 330 mg caffeine (by NCA). Look at the photo:


Small package of Airways next to an espresso and a cappuccino (espresso with milk foam)

We have our favourite cafés (I have a couple of them in Zagreb and one at the seaside, even in London. A couple of weeks ago I had an excellent espresso with cream - I know, I know! - at the Saatchi Gallery Mess café, when I went to the Mademoiselle Privé exhibition.), a favourite barrista (espresso brewing specialist) and a waiter/waitress. We may know their names, and they know the type of coffee we order!

One of my favourite cafes:

Coffee came to Croatia with the Turks (who unexpectedly came to ”visit“ our neighbours in Bosnia) through Vienna (the biggest part of my country was then in the Austro-Hungarian union). Vienna was our capital and role model for almost everything, from dresses, hats, music, architecture to, well……coffeehouses! The first coffeehouse was opened in Zagreb in 1748, with many to follow. They were places where gentlemen and much later-Quelle horreur!- ladies, too, would spend their time drinking coffee or hot chocolate, reading foreign newspapers, meeting friends and chatting about politics, culture, fashion (and about friends who were not there, of course! Some things never change.).

Since the 1970’s a lot of us went on shopping trips to Trieste, a beautiful Italian town. We had a thirst for fabulous Italian shoes and purses, Italian fashion, jeans, pizza, gelato and, here we are again, Italian espresso. While trying to copy the things we liked, we failed with shoes and purses but mastered the art of preparing pizza and espresso.

Do we exaggerate with coffee and caffeine? No, I am serious now! Average person drinks between 1 and 3 cups a day. A lot of people drink tea, Nescafé or brew Croatian coffee at home, which we call Turkish coffee (and there is an art to brewing it, too, but this is another story).

I have a professional Saeco espresso machine at home (not a junkie J) and drink one cup at home in the morning (the most delightful way to start a day!), and then maybe another cup with friends or at a busines meeting (I sometimes even pretend to drink coffee at a busines meeting, but please, don't tell!).

Early morning coffee in the centre of Zagreb (my own photo)


and here's one that shows the crowds drinking coffee on a Saturday morning, again in the centre of Zagreb (photo courtesy of Putpodnoge)

When you come to Croatia and notice full cafés and their terraces, even in winter time, don't be fooled. We work very hard (if we have jobs at all). These are students, the retired, unemployed - the rest of us are simply on a coffee break or at a busines meeting!
If you wish to explore more how expats view Croatia and live in it, here are two blogs you might want to look at : Chasing the donkey and Zablogreb.

How do you like your coffee? Do you have problems finding it when travelling? Have you been to
Croatia alreadyJ?
Dottoressa

Thank you so much, Dottoressa. It was delightful having coffee with you this morning. I hope that someday, perhaps, we might meet, in person, and share a real cup or two. . . 

 As always, I welcome all comments to this post. Feel free, since this is a guest post, to direct your questions or your responses directly to Dottoressa, but I will be moderating as usual and also happy to chime in if you have comments for me. 


33 comments:

  1. Thank you for the small taste of Croatia. Monsieur and I visited Dubrovnik and some of the coastal towns. It is a lovely country with a coastline that looks a bit like our B.C.
    coast. Dotteressa, I have often read your comments on Mater's blog and I am sure that you would be an interesting coffee partner.

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    1. Thank you very much Madame,I can say the same to you. I'm so happy that you visited Croatia and liked it. Maybe you'll come back soon (you'll have to visit other parts,too!)and my invitation for a coffee will be still here :-)
      Dottoressa

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  2. Dear Mater,thank you very,very much for your kind words and hospitality! I was suprised,afraid and delighted when Lisa and you asked me if I might write a guest post for you both. I was afraid,because you both and your commenters write so perfect.
    I enjoyed and learned so much reading,so...... Could I dare? I admire you even more after I finished this post :-)
    Well,here I am
    I hope to see you and have "real" coffee as well ! It would be so nice!
    Here in Zagreb,it is late afteroon and I'm going to a concert and before that,for a coffee!:-)!
    If there will be any comments,don't be mad,I 'll answer tomorrow !
    Dottoressa <3

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    1. It's a great post, Dottoressa, and all my readers are clearly enjoying it! Thanks so much, and I look forward to our someday coffee together.

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    2. Me too:-)
      And the pleasure is all mine
      Dottoressa

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  3. What a wonderful idea, a guest post! And coffee is such a fascinating subject, mixing history, sociology (of consumption), economics, international relations (where does our coffee come from?) and ethics (fair tade) with pleasure, taste and good company. Back in the 60s there almost started a revolution in the GDR when the government tried to raise coffee prices. And that was when the coffee generally drunk in both East and West Germany was pretty awful! In the 70s people from West Germany started to travel to the south of Europe, especially Italy, and brought home with them not only the dream of pizza and spaghetti, but also of espresso and all its sidekicks. So nowadays every self respecting café has an Italian espresso machine and serves a decent espresso. My own machine is an "heirloom", left behind by a friend when she moved out of the flat we used to share. It is a Swiss brand, ancient but it clicks like clockwork (!).
    I got to know a small part of Croatia on a trip to Istria a few years ago. I remember the exquisite cuisine, delicious result of the combination of Turkish, Austro-Hungarian and Italian traditions mentioned in this charming post.

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    1. Thank you Eleonore, for a very interesting comment and for compliments
      Dottoressa

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  4. Dottoressa and Mater, this was such a nice visit! I miss the coffee culture. The moka pot on the stovetop is just not the same :(

    We have snow now in Winnipeg, so no sitting outside until spring I fear.

    I have not been to Croatia but have been looking at the map. Hmm...

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    1. Always a pleasure to read your comments Georgia,thank you!
      Croatia is just a little step from Venice :-)
      We had first snow in mountains,only rain here
      Dottoressa

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    2. We might get a sprinkling of snow here this wee (temps are dipping below freezing) -- and there is enough on the mountains that skiers have started their season, joyfully!

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  5. Lovely post! Great idea! Made me want to have coffee in Croatia.

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    1. Thank you givi! You are welcome!
      Dottoressa

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  6. Wonderful guest post. I really enjoy your blog, thank you for sharing!
    Suz

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    1. I love this blog very much,too! Thank you for your kind words!
      Dottoressa

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  7. I did try to comment on Maters last post but seem to be disappearing into black internet holes these days . But I try again . We visited the Croatian area over thirty years ago - beautiful Dubrovnik , lovely little Cavtat & inland a little to Mostar with its magical bridge . Then the war . To see the bridge collapsed on the news was heartbreaking & we wondered what fate befell the friendly locals we had met . So it is very nice to hear that things are good again in Croatia & you are sitting in the sun drinking coffee - & the bridge at Mostar has been rebuilt
    Wendy in York

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    1. I'm so happy that you liked your visit,you have chosen beautiful spots. I was in Mostar 30 years ago,too,and than again couple of times after the war. It really was a shame,hard to believe
      Thank you,I like to read your comments
      Dottoressa

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  8. Oh such a pleasure! Such a wonderful slice of life, a glimpse of another place and society. Here coffee has been overtaken by Starbucks and free wi-fi. I love your plazas. I look forward to my turn to host your guest post!

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    1. Thank you very much,it was your idea in the first place and I am truly grateful for yours and Mater's trust!
      I think you'll have to see our plazas ! And the coast! And Plitvice falls! And the pebbles!
      I am already working on your guest post :-)
      Dottoressa

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    2. and thanks, Lisa, for inspiring this post (and apologies for the idea-borrowing, except that I think we all benefit ;-)

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  9. What a lovely peek into a time-honored tradition. I'm not a coffee drinker, so when I visit Croatia (I hope to, one day), I'll bring my own tea! Thank you Dottoressa, for sharing your words and heart here on Mater's blog. A really great idea!

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    1. I hope,too :-)! There is a lot more than coffee here! And before you visit,I'll take an investigation in the tea department!
      Thank you Lorrie for your kind words,I like to read your comments ( especially this one :-))!
      Dottoressa

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  10. Brilliant! So pleased to read about coffee, my absolute number 1 pleasure. A day without coffee is a day wasted in my opinion. Espresso, flat white (in a glass, please!) simple Nescafe instant. It is all fine by me. And Zagreb: who knew? I have been to Dubrovnik twice and had the happiest times imaginable. And very good coffee, come to think of it. Plus fish. Plus sun. Plus cold beer.
    Well done, Mater. I like a guest writer. All grist to the mill.

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    1. I'm so pleased to host -- it's great to have a different voice, different perspective, isn't it?!

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  11. Thank you very much Annie. I am glad that you like Dubrovnik and had the happiest time! Maybe you have to continue exploring....:-)
    Your blog is great
    Dottoressa

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  12. Simply charming. I miss the lovely coffee shops we used to have. Starbucks has taken over and it has no atmosphere. I'd love to visit Croatia one day. The way you enjoy your coffee and cafes is so civilized.

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  13. Oh Jennifer,you are so kind,thank you. I hope you will visit Croatia soon and enjoy!
    Dottoressa

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  14. Thank you ...A wonderful idea ...I really enjoyed reading this guest post Dottoressa, as I always enjoy your comments on Maters blog. I love to sit outside drinking coffee with friends and family whether it's summer or winter! Such a sociable pastime :)
    Rosie

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    1. Thank you Rosie,I am very happy that you like it. I like to read your comments too :-)
      How do you know that my next guest post would have something (a lot,ha!) with mulled wine? And rakiya,too!
      Dottoressa

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  15. Just popping in to say that I'm following all these comments and enjoying Dottoressa's responses. Glad so many of you think a guest post was a good idea . . .

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  16. Hi to you Mater ... It was a good idea! Hope you're having a good weekend. Looking forward to your next post whilst enjoying Mulled wine and mince pies! :)
    Rosie

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  17. Hi to you Mater ... It was a good idea! Hope you're having a good weekend. Looking forward to your next post whilst enjoying Mulled wine and mince pies! :)
    Rosie

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  18. I just want to tell you all,including Frances and Lisa,once more, how thankful I am and so happy to found wonderful people far away. I really feel like having a coffee with dear friends
    Dottoressa

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  19. Well, this is jolly! Like a coffee morning. If anybody is ever in Leeds, there is a brilliant coffee shop called Laynes which does amazing flat whites and the best pain au raisin I have ever eaten anywhere. Made in York, apparently. And you can read Kinfolk there. What is not to like?

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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