Ljubitovica Šarac Garlic

Vegetables and vegetable preserves - Croatia

The town of Trogir is one of the pearls of the Adriatic. Built in Venetian times on an island, it is linked to the mainland by two bridges. Its white stone buildings and stupendous Romanesque cathedral have qualified it as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is located on the Dalmatian coast half way between Split and Zadar and the local economy, driven by ever growing tourism, is booming. But just a few kilometers inland, you find the real rural Dalmatia, a little known and sparsely inhabited area. The land rises steeply from the coast, making agriculture particularly difficult. The karst soils must be cleared of stones in order to be cultivated. Houses, roads and boundary walls are all built using material removed from the land. Cultivated areas are usually small and used for growing grapes and olives. One of Dalmatia’s best known and most important wines, Babic, is produced in this area. In Ljubitovica, a village a few kilometers from Trogir where life seems to have stood still for centuries, a variety of garlic famed throughout the region is grown. Known as Luk in Croatian and Cesnjak in Dalmatian, this Allium sativum is a preservable, full-flavored and fragrant variety that is often streaked with reddish veins. Grown by local families to augment their incomes, it is gathered into strings and sold mainly by women at markets in Split, Trogir and Sibenik, or to tourists traveling the coastal roads in summer. The women of Ljubitovica gather along the sides of these markets, displaying their strings of garlic, dried officinal herbs and, occasionally, some alcoholic distillates (such as travarica herb grappa) on wooden crates. They proudly gesture, repeating that the garlic was grown and prepared in Ljubitovica, where the product is better and keeps longer than the regular garlic sold on the market stalls.