Croatia has some of its food products protected at both a national and European level, their status designated by their unique place of origin. Lika potatoes (Lički krumpir) are one of them.
You could point to the huge mountain ranges, cut by deep river gorges, and the lack of any significant tracts of arable land as the reasons why the region of Lika is Croatia's least populated, least prosperous and one of the most difficult in which to cultivate crops. But, this rough and wild terrain existed here long before any inhabitants. So, it is perhaps unfair for us, as very recent arrivals, to regard it as these facets as any kind of impediment at all. After all, it is this geography which gifts us two of the countries best-loved and most visited natural areas, the waterfall-filled Plitvice Lakes National Park and the Velebit National Park.
The cuisine of Lika is shaped by this persistently uneven and mountainous terrain and by its cold winters. Few grain crops can grow here, nor vegetables. Indeed, if you have a family member who is unfortunately averse to eating vegetables, you could do a lot worse than to take them for a meal in Lika. The region's simple, traditional, homecooked and hearty cuisine is mostly based on fresh, local ingredients such as lamb, pork and dairy products, facilitated by the successful rearing of animals such terrain enables. Of the few vegetables which do thrive here, thank goodness that Lika potatoes are one.
Potatoes from Lika contain more starch, vitamins, minerals, and fibre than almost any of the others grown in Croatia. These properties are attributable to the rich soil which exists there. Mainly comprised of the Bintje, Desire and Victoria varieties, Lika potatoes have yellow-brown skin and a white-yellow interior. These are the dry kind of potatoes perfect for roasting or making homemade, thick-cut fries. When cooked in either of these ways, they crisp up on the outside while turning incredibly soft in the middle. They're also great for potato salad, potato pies, and soups, so long as you're careful – unlike their waxy cousins, these will break up and disintegrate if overcooked. In Lika, they are put into stews (alongside cabbage, beans, celery and root veg like carrots), used as an ingredient in the one-pot peka style of cooking or served as a side to roasted meats such as Lika lamb or the popular trout which is successfully farmed here.
Click here to find out what European recognition does for Croatian produce and see all of Croatia's best delicacies which are protected