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Dormouse - From Catching It Towards Creating Regional Speciality
; Institute of Ethnology and Folklor Research, Zagreb, Croatia
Puni tekst: hrvatski, pdf (875 KB)
Rittig-Beljak, N. (1999). Puh - od ulova do regionalnog specijaliteta. Studia ethnologica Croatica, 10/11(1), 111-124. Preuzeto s http://hrcak.srce.hr/48541
The author deals with the identification of the dormouse (myoxis glis) within the ethnographic picture of Istria (of the part of Kastav near Rijeka).
In the Apici's cookbook from the first century a dormouse is stated as one of the Romans horse-d'oeuvres (stuffed dormouse) but there is little evidence on the continuity of enjoyment in the meat of the dormouse in Croatian historical literature.
Identification of mutual cultural borrowings is a demanding task, not very likely to succeed. However, considering that the Roman cuisine with its crockery, cutlery, hearth and refined taste had reached the peak which was later imitated and gained upon by the generations of cooks throughout Europe, we can assume that the consumption of dormouse survived in certain simpler variety whose links with the Romans can be neither confirmed nor denied.
Still, scanty data indicate much broader area of enjoyment of dormouse meat in the past, while today we begin to consider it a regional or local specialty. If we look for legitimacy of the Roman dormouse in Istrian peasant menu, we'll find a strong hunting tradition and its patterns which weren't embodiments of antic lifestyle. Istrian dormouse is a male hunting speciality, like the other natural food from the nearby forests whereas the dormouse Roman way, according to Pierre Ricci's evaluation would have to be female food. In Istrian cuisine it is a popular, not a patrician meal. The stories of the hunters that the author values as the basis for the notion of dormouse as a meal, reiterate the fact that salted dormouse used to save people from hunger during winter times. That highly developed social enjoyment from the past (of catching, roasting and eating of dormouse) is nowadays maintained by some ten families in Kastav. Out of several hunting techniques, these days dormice are mostly caught by traps or air-gun and torch.
Present day dormouse hunters (dormouse hunting being a special branch of hunting) take care of environment within the framework of the hunting club, they are interested in the advancement of hunting, go on joint excursions to neighbouring Slovenia where dormouse hunting is more advanced, and which is also embedded into present symbol of Notranjska region. It is to be expected that under Slovenian influence tourist dimension of this social fact would reinforce, and the dormouse would become a part of gastronomic offer of Kastav not only on Beta nedilja (first Sunday in October) when it is usually served in goulash for visitors of traditional Kastav fair. That breakthrough of limited regional taste will certainly remain exclusive because of the Croatian law on the protection of dormouse.
The author also deals with the standard of taste in Kastav. Using the example of dormouse she wants to show that the idea of tastefulness varies not only in different cultures, but within the same cultural surrounding in common region. Besides, nutritional standards change. Consumption of ancient meals is a part of new movement towards strengthening of local identity, especially in communities that were spread out throughout the world. The motive for consumption of dormouse has essentially changed: it is no longer a roast meat for the poor or stock of proteins in meagre food provisions for winter.
dormouse; regional speciality; Istria
Hrčak ID: 48541
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