The Winter Fair and ČvarakFest, Croatia’s famous pork cracklings festival, took place again the weekend before last in Baranja and it was another huge success
by Josip Vujinović
The Winter Fair is held every year in the Ethno village of Karanac in Baranja, in the eastern part of Croatia. At the fair stands, visitors can find traditional rural and handicraft products, Baranja gingerbread, cakes and lángos, cured meat delicacies, brandy, wine, honey, wooden toys and souvenirs.
The Winter Fair is an ideal event that offers products of almost 100 local producers of local products, mostly Baranja and Slavonian family farms. You can find famous Baranja cured meat products – kulen, bacon, sausage, ham, čvarci (pork cracklings), lard, wine, brandy, juices, cheeses, pastries, cakes, honey, ground red pepper, wicker baskets, wooden kitchen utensils, souvenirs and antiques.
As part of the Winter Fair, the now traditional ČvarakFest is organized – a gastronomic experience for all lovers of specialties from the pantry and smokehouse. The festival tries to show guests the real experience of traditional Baranja pork slaughter – melting cracklings (čvarci), preparing sausages and other specialties. In the end, a winner in melting cracklings (čvarci) is declared.
The event was first held in 2009 and since then every year attracts more and more visitors and fans of this traditional Baranja delicacy. It is held on the last Saturday in November on the fairground meadow next to the Church of St. Donat. This fattest and most delicious festival in Croatia is dedicated to “Baranja truffles” – ČVARCI.
Of course, as it would be in Baranja without the well-known local cuisine, so at the Fair you can also taste shepherd’s pie, beans from a clay pot, cauldron, roasted sausages, carp on forks and all this “pour” with top quality wine. Before lunch, don’t forget to taste a cup of homemade brandy.
Delicatessen snacks prepared according to the original recipe are also called Baranja truffles. These are cracklings that have their most delicious and fattest festival in Karanac. The organizers of ČvarakFest say that there is a solution for everything, including the challenges of the times in which we live, and it reads – happy friendship and good food.
At ČvarakFest in Karanac you can eat well, drink a little and talk a lot. And the hosts tell us, you need to know and mix well. Proud Baranja people are ready to emphasize to every guest the difference between Slavonian and cracklings (čvarci) made in Karanak. The Karanak cracklings (čvarci) are long and thin, and in Slavonia they work like a sugar cube. “We say that I have said that a hundred times, if you are going to eat cracklings – eat cracklings, not hazelnuts,” says organizer Vladimir Skrobo, from the Association of Guardians of Old Crafts in Karanak.
As the hot greaves came to the stands, they disappeared so quickly. And how could it not be when it is known that this delicacy can also be part of a balanced diet. In Baranja’s gastronomy, fish is equally represented along with meat, so in addition to fish stew and forks, carp ended up in cracklings (čvarci).
– Turn into flour with pepper and fry in hot oil, nothing else. It is topped with garlic – explained Arpad Šipec from Suza.
For organizers and tourism workers there is no doubt; autumn is the most beautiful season in Baranja.
– It is good that this event is recognized throughout Croatia, so today we have several buses from northern Croatia, even from Istria and Opatija. We are satisfied – says the director of the Tourist Board of Baranja Matej Perkušić.
Where there is happy friendship, it is better to eat; cheerful Baranja people say as they invite guests to return to their table next year.