Those of us who have family near the sea have had it drummed into our heads from an early age – do not mess with Bura! Countless stories or just one first hand experience at sea are more than enough to show you the dangers and ferocity of this particular wind.
Although seemingly not so strong at first, one quickly realises the chilly gusts it brings (or “Refuli” called locally) are strong enough to topple over people, boats, vehicles and other objects as well as swiftly bring on hypothermia if one is not wrapped up adequately. A particularly strong wintertime Bura causes the sea to foam up and produce an unbreathable layer of foamy sea above the surface. Sailors paid with their lives if they had the misfortune of ending overboard during these conditions.
However, its not all bad. Croats have learned to respect and use Bura to their advantage a long time ago. All of coastline’s architecture was built with strong stone which can resist these windy assaults. Bura, being a particularly dry wind was perfect for curing fish and meat attributing to some of the most respected authentic Croatian delicacies – Dalmatian cured ham being one. If you had the luck to try an authentic (nope, not store bought unfortunately) piece of this, it is on a whole other level compared to Italian Parma Ham, a spectacle of sweetness and saltiness wrapped up in amazing smell, colour and texture.
Up next, Pag cheese (Pashki Sir), from the island of Pag. Where wintertime Bura has been the strongest recorded in Croatia – at 134mph. It beats the sea water and washes it up on the island’s grass, which is then eaten by a special breed of local sheep, which in turn produce this amazing cheese. You can buy it in most stores in Croatia, although for the authentic experience probably best to head for the Island of Pag.
And finally – Bakalar. Now, this is real authentic food here, it is usually eaten at Christmas but families have known to indulge at other times. Take a whole cod, salt it, stick it in a curing basket. Let it out to cure in Bura, and you have the prime ingredient for authentic Croatian Bakalar! This is a fish type stew, very moorish and hearty. You cannot get any more traditional than this. You will find a plethora of recipes online on how to make this recipe with salted cod, but again, it is a whole other experience to be eating Bakalar made with the authentic Bura cured cod.
Croatian Bura, we salute and pay our homage to you!