In the picturesque Croatian region of Istria, a unique gastronomic event dedicated solely to potatoes, known as the Gramperijada, took place on Thursday in Kaštelir, celebrating its 19th edition.
This year’s gathering was the grandest so far, drawing numerous locals and tourists who were introduced to the most significant gift of the Kaštelir area – the “gramper” or potato.
It’s worth noting that only in Kaštelir, the local dialect refers to potatoes as “gramper,” a legacy from the Napoleonic era when French soldiers first brought potatoes to the region and taught the local population how to grow and prepare them.
Nowadays, thanks to the characteristics of the local soil and climate, the Kaštelir potato, or “gramper,” has gained a reputation as one of the finest varieties in Istria. Additionally, in recent times, gramper potatoes are cultivated using ecologically sustainable farming practices.
The Gramperijada tradition showcases various ways of preparing potatoes in a wide array of dishes. This year, about thirty different potato-based meals were presented.
The members of the Retirement Association of Kaštelir-Labinci prepared dishes like potato moussaka, potato croquettes, spicy potato salad, potato pie, potato boats, savoury and sweet potato fritters, and potato wedges topped with ham and cheese.
Meanwhile, at the beautifully arranged Kaštelir Plac, members of the Kaštelir Fire Department “Grom,” the Handball Club 28th April, and the Kaštelir Football Club fried potato fries and potato spirals, offering them with a variety of sauces.
The association “Mladi za sve” was responsible for making delicious pancakes and popcorn, while the local agricultural association “Vitis” provided a whopping 300 kilograms of potatoes harvested from their members’ fields for the preparation of dishes at this Gramperijada.
Adding a special charm to the gastronomic offerings, participants from Herešin, a village near Koprivnica, presented delicacies from their younger potato-focused festival.
The Herešin Women’s Association showcased a small selection of the dishes typical of their festivity: meat potato pie, potato roses, potato muffins, potato strudel, roasted potatoes with bell peppers, potato and zucchini lasagna, mini potato burek, potato casserole, crumpled potato pie, two types of potato burgers, twisted potatoes, French-style potatoes from the Podravina region, potato pie, potato “dress,” potato cake, potato gibanica, and finally, potato bread.
To complement the flavours of potatoes, various local producers offered olive oils, wines, craft beer, brandies, and non-alcoholic drinks at the Kaštelir Plac. The recently refurbished and attractively equipped “Butiga” store, featuring local agricultural and food products, also enticed many visitors. Throughout the day, guests could also enjoy an exhibition of artworks by members of the Italian Community Labinci and the Retirement Association of the municipality.
The Gramperijada was not just about delicious food; it was also a day filled with entertainment. In the afternoon, the “Gramperolimpijada” entertained children with fun games, while in the evening, adults competed in various potato-related skills.
The adult competitions had a humorous twist, and participants had to creatively face unexpected challenges to outdo their opponents. For example, the fast potato peeling contest was made slightly harder by using dull peeling tools, and in this situation, the best performer was Đanluka Banko, a local from Kaštelir, who peeled a staggering 455 grams of potatoes in just one minute.
In the fast potato eating competition, participants were offered a potato salad drizzled with olive oil and spiced up, making it quite a challenge despite the small portion. In the end, Vanessa Weber, a guest from the German city of Hachenburg, emerged as the winner.
The day at the Kaštelir Gramperijada concluded with a performance by Gustaf and DJ DeJviDa, marking the climax of this exceptionally well-attended event organized by the Municipality of Kaštelir-Labinci and its Tourist Board.