Sunday, July 07, 2019

Shopping in Croatia

Foreigners Beware

By John Fisher

Going to the open air market is always worthwhile, even if the experience is negative. I've shopped in markets in Kosovo, where I've been living for six months, and the experience has always been positive. I have never been taken advantage of. Rather I was always welcomed, maybe because Kosovars like Americans so much.

But, in Senj, Croatia, I feel I was cheated - because I was a foreigner. At the Saturday morning market, I was swindled at every stand except one. The merchants made a pretense of weighing the product, but then they added much more than it was worth. I know because I had already paid regular prices at the super market. A small melon was listed at 15 kuna per kilo. It weighed about 400 grams and the price I was charged was 15 kuna (about $2.25). 

I bought a single fig at one stand and paid 1 kuna (15 cents). Then at another stand my wife went to pick up two more figs. She gave an old lady a 20 kuna bill. (I'm seventy-one. Anyone who looks older than me is old). The lady gave back a 10 kuna bill and then I started arguing with her. I didn't speak Croatian; she didn't understand English, but she knew what I was talking about. She looked up in the sky and crossed herself with a look of disgust on her face. I thought, "Who is the patron saint of liars and thieves?" She gave me back 5 more kuna. Two figs ended up costing 75 cents.  

At one stall, my wife went back several times. The products were good, but I think she really liked the way she was treated by the woman. She sensed something different about this woman. That she was honest and fair. Her final purchase was a half dozen small potatoes. The merchant said, "Take those - they are my gift to you." She must have known how frustrated we were by the whole experience. 

Vegetables and fruits I would have paid five euros for in Kosovo cost three times as much in Croatia - 100 kuna or about $15.

A vegetable stand in Senj, Croatia

Indoor market in Senj
Clothes and flowers
The offending melon up front
Later we went to the hospital to visit a friend. She is 81 years old. We met her in Canada 30 years ago. On the way we walked under a fig tree along the public sidewalk. We picked our fill of figs and had more to take back to Pristina. I like dried figs. Fresh figs from the tree are many times sweeter and better.

Picking figs straight from a tree

Zucchini Couscous Salad


Zucchini Couscous Salad

This delicious salad tastes good cold as a leftover. It is made with couscous and cooked zucchini.
Feeds: 4 people
Preparation Time:10 minutes
Cooking Time:15 mins
Total Time: 25 mins


  • 1/3 cup chopped red onions
  • 1 big zucchini — sliced and fried in olive oil and garlic
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 cup whole wheat couscous
  • fresh parsley leaves 
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes — cut in half
  • 1 tsp green onion
  • 3 tbsp white cheese like feta
  • 1/3 cup homemade vinaigrette of olive oil, squeezed lemon, basil, salt and pepper


  1. In a medium heatproof bowl, pour 1 1/4 cup boiling water (boiled with vegetable or chicken bullion base) over the couscous.
  2. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes.
  3. Uncover, fluff with a fork, and set aside to let cool for 5 minutes more. Add fresh parsley leaves.
  4. In a medium bowl, gently toss the zucchini with 1 tbs olive oil, salt, and pepper. Cook over a grill or in a frying pan. Use fresh crushed garlic and red onion in frying pan.
  5. Turn zucchini occasionally, until it is browned and softened but not mushy, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  6. In the same dish used to cook the couscous, add zucchini and cheese and tomatoes. (Add green onion if you like onion.) Stir well adding the vinaigrette. Homemade vinaigrette is made from olive juice, squeezed lemon, and basil. Salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Taste and adjust the seasoning if you think it is necessary. Serve immediately or cold as a leftover.

Nutrition Information

Amount per serving (1/4) — Calories: 220, Fat: 16g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 8mg, Sodium: 392mg, Potassium: 184mg, Carbohydrates: 16g, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 4g, Protein: 4g, Vitamin A: 12%, Vitamin C: 6%, Calcium: 5%, Iron: 2%