Those who have been following my journey know that I've been travelling non-stop for the past two years, in and out of airports, Airbnb to Airbnb, homes away from home to boat crew cabins... whether it's been to chase the next opportunity for fun and sail or to cook and learn, I can quite accurately say that I've been living like Mary Poppins out of a suitcase bursting with all the worlds trinkets and always just about enough to get me a ticket to the next adventure.
Along this time I've become obsessed with unravelling the core of tradition in food everywhere I go. I'm spellbound by how a dish is really made. Can I meet your grandmother? What's your mum cooking tonight? Whether it is stirring for hours, stretching for days, curing for months.. I'm curious and I want to be right there, embossing the process into my brain as I watch. I was thinking about this on my flight over to Croatia and how important it is for me to dig at the history behind a dish. I realise that my (mostly) solo travel probably has something to do with it and maybe it's why I'm always craving and longing for a sense of familiarity. And also that it's in history where I find myself connecting in a way I may not have otherwise. Like the momentous epiphanies I often find - 'this Croatian woman makes her potato salad the same way an Italian I know once made it, which is similar to how a Korean restaurant I ate at in Seoul had prepared it for banchan and that it had the same spices as mum would use in her salad dressings' WOAHHH?! - get me reeaaaal nostalgic.
Nostalgic of mums cooking, of where I grew up Sydney, of the places we use to go, of the food I ate as a teenager and then as a uni student. Nostalgia of what I cooked when I moved out of home, the food at fancy restaurants I've been to and at pot luck dinner with friends. This nostalgia thing has no doubt shaped my tastebuds and for that matter, my mind for life. That is why I travel out of this suitcase with pages full of notes and recipes, my knives from everywhere and baggies of spices, honeys and salts because at the spine of it all, I know how good it feels in the comfort of remembering a flavour, a taste, a time.
Three months ago I emailed my friend Vedran Sucic, the owner Uje Oil Bar and Pikulece Tapas Bar serving new Dalmatian food in Split, Croatia. I told him I wanted to come and learn about Croatian cooking and to possibly share some of my nostalgia too. Two weeks ago I arrived in Croatia with the opportunity to open a 2 month pop up at Pikulece in the middle of Old Town Split. Two days ago I finished my menu and this week, my first pop up restaurant, Lucy Lucija will be open to the public!!!!!!!!!!!!! I cannot contain the happiness I have inside as I'm so thankful to have the chance to share this labour of love in the incredibly rich and beautiful backdrop of Split.
Lucy Lucija will be serving my nostalgic cooking of some classic Croatian flavours. Come along for the next 2 months as I update you on experimenting with ingredients, things I'll learn and some new dishes.
LUCY LUCIJA @ Pikulece Tapas Bar
Split, Croatia 21000