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Source: Portal Kumice s Dolca
Kumica s Dolca – Zagreb, Croatia
This is local city of Zagreb term for a pleasant woman with woven basket on her head – women who came to the city every day, with baskets full of products from their gardens and farms, fresh fruit, vegetables, flowers…
Today, Dolac Market is the biggest, most popular and most important market in Zagreb. Small houses of Dolac, as well as the old city walls, were pulled down and the new market was officially opened in 1930. At that time, Dolac was one of the biggest and most beautiful markets in this part of Europe.
Nowadays, on top of the left stairway leading to Dolac, a statue of a woman proudly stands. It is the statue of the so-called “kumica” – a pleasant woman with woven basket on her head – to commemorate thousands and thousands of women who came to the city every day, with baskets full of products from their gardens and farms, fresh fruit, vegetables, flowers… They came from Prigorje in Zagreb surroundings: Markuševec, Šestine, Gračani, Čučerje, Remete and Vrapče. Very often they would make the long journey on foot, with a heavy load on their heads. In order to keep the memory of “kumica” – the hard- working guardian of the old spirit of Zagreb – alive not only as a statue, women dressed in Prigorje folk costume will once again come to Dolac from June to October to revive the memory of thousands of women who fed Zagreb throughout the centuries.
Dolac is typical open market. It is the most popular Zagreb market because it is situated in the center of the town. Citizens usually go to Dolac to buy food and to drink coffee in the coffee shops around market on the Saturday morning although Dolac is opened through whole week. There is maybe the best fish market on Dolac especially On Fryday and Saturday. And on Dolac nextdoor to the fish market is a little restaurant (in the arcade): downstairs is buffet and upstairs is fish restaurant that serves really fresh fish for popular prices. It is my favourite.
Croatia’s raw ingredients are exceptional in quality. In the Roman empire, Croatia was second only to Italy in importance of olive oil and wine production. The fertile Istrian peninsula produces high quality olive oil (as good as anything we tried in Italy) and sheep’s cheese. The Dalmatian coast is justifiably world-renowned for its plump sweet figs. The cauliflower we purchased in Zagreb was sweeter and tastier than any cauliflower we’ve tried before (so says Patrick, who generally finds cauliflower bland and insipid). We picked oyster mushrooms by the pound for only $2.00 USD, and marvelled at the texture and flavor of these hearty mushrooms. Kiwi fruits were sweet and slightly tart and brussel sprouts crunched when roasted. Truffle products abound and fish and meats are fresh and cut thickly.
Figs, dates, and kiwis at the Dolac market
In 1930, Zagreb opened the Dolac Market as a way for farmers to bring their produce into bustling Zagreb. This is, in itself, not surprising; public markets were opening or expanding all around the world in the early 1900s. The Mercat de Boqueria in Barcelona had its permanent roof put in place in 1911, the huge Los Angeles Farmers Market opened in 1934, and the large Testaccio market in Rome opened in 1912, and so on. I haven’t read any articles on why there was a rush to build farmers markets in this time period but I surmise that the pressure of World War I and the Industrial Revolution pushed people into cities and those city dwellers needed access to the agricultural goods that they previously grew and ate in the countryside. Hence, farmers markets opened all across the western world.
Peppers strung up at the Dolac Market
No, what’s surprising about the Dolac Market is that, when it opened in 1930, Zagreb and Croatia was part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (later renamed Yugoslavia). At that time, 75% of the Yugoslavian workers were employed in agriculture, and most of those individuals were subsistence peasants, living off what they grew. As the Great Depression’s cold fingers spread across the world, most of those peasants realized that they could not live on their farms and flooded the large cities of Yugoslavia. The nearby Axis forces of Hungary, Germany, and Italy quickly overran Yugoslavia and split the country amongst themselves though resistance forces battled hard for independence. After World War II ended, Yugoslavia had lost one million people to warfare and concentration camps, and joined much of Eastern Europe to become a Communist government. In the early 1990s, after the fall of East Germany and the U.S.S.R., Yugoslavia went through another round of brutal warfare as the country split into Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, and Macedonia. Through all this turbulent history, the Dolac Market stood.
The market square is ringed with cafes and bars, where you can perch and watch the grazing and haggling action, or better yet, grab a borek (cheese, spinach or meat-stuffed filo) and kava to line your stomach and clear your head sufficiently, then wade into the thick of it yourself.
We did just fall off the overnight bus from Dubrovnik, but geez, the old women around here look like they’re made pretty much of the same stuff as the statue above. So, bleary-eyed schmleary-eyed! Stiff upper lip, chug another double expresso, and in we go…
Turns out, the kaleiscope of colors will jolt you awake anyway. Given it was the height of summer at the the time, there was an explosion of berries. A new find for me were these pretty yellow raspberries.
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