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Gastronomy / The cuisine of Slovene Istria

The tastes associated with Slovene Istria are simple and straightforward, yet delicious. In general, Istrian dishes are far from complex, however their preparation can be challenging. In the past, Istrian women would devote much of their attention to food, especially cooking. They would engage in the preparation of meals with devotion, care, respect, and gratitude to God and the land which bore the fruits. Even though ingredients are limited in number, Istrian cuisine is a combination of an abundance of creativity, hard-work and especially love. And it is the love that is particularly important. In Istria, top quality ingredients are available throughout the year, which is unheard of elsewhere in the world.

Istrian cuisine is composed of plenty of vegetables native to Istria, its great taste the result of an abundance of sun and the nearby sea, often with peculiar local names, including among others kale, radicchio, fennel, zucchini, chard, aubergines, peas and cabbage. As a rule, the vegetables are prepared with olive oil and plenty of garlic.

In Istria, cooking is preferred over baking. Also typical are herbs, especially of the wild variety, which are abundant in Istria. Also common are fish. Dishes are always seasoned with wine vinegar, sea salt, home-made olive oil and wine.

Vegetable minestrones are common regardless of the season. Particularly typical are the bobiči (corn), fennel, barley etc. minestrones. Minestrones are usually garnished with pesto. Home-made pasta is usually served in soups and as a side: noodles, lasagne, macaroni, bleki and the characteristic fusi. Fusi are commonly served as a starter or a side together with different sauces. Polenta and gnocchi, though not native to the region, have become a staple in Istria.
Cooked meat dishes (fish, mutton, poultry, beef) are typically prepared with native Istrian spices. Many dishes are cooked in a padelle(pan with handle) or under the so-called "črepnja" (lid for baking with coals). Also worthy of tasting are fish stews, marinades and other fish dishes.

In the past, there was a divide between the seaside and inland Istrian cuisine, which is perfectly understandable. The former was based particularly on fish, shellfish and sea food, and the latter on pasta and vegetables. The separation has been long gone, resulting in a uniform Istrian cuisine. A nice example of the fusion of both the inland and seaside Istrian cuisine is represented in cuttlefish with chard and polenta.

Istrian cuisine is markedly unique, despite having development under the strong influence of Italian cooking. To taste Istrian cuisine is to experience its most precious characteristic: that is the modest and enduring sensation of natural delicacies. Istrian cuisine, though with enormous potential, is still largely unexploited.

RECIPE: Fusi with garlic and truffles

Flavourful pasta that will not disappoint.

Sestavine za 4 osebe:

  • 500g Fusi
  • 4 tbs Olive oil
  • 4 cloves Garlic
  • 40 g Truffles
  • 50 g Parmesan, grated
  • half tsp Salt


  1. Put pot with litre of water on the stove, then add salt. Bring water to boil, then add the fusi. Cook according to packet instructions.
  2. In the meanwhile, peel garlic and finely chop. Heat the pan and add oil. Add garlic and fry for about one minute.
  3. Drain cooked pasta, then add to pan. Season with salt to taste, then mix thoroughly with fried garlic. Divide between plates and scatter with grated truffles and parmesan. 
  4. Serve.
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