How the sea shaped the Dalmatian way of life July 31st, 2017 TAGS Traditional culture relying on sea and land The Dalmatian lifestyle is interconnected to the Adriatic sea since ancient times. A way of life arising out of pure necessity. Utilising the natural resources of land and sea, activities such as sea travel, trade, fishing, boatbuilding and agriculture evolved. Small-scale fishing in the Adriatic Sea is a Dalmatian tradition that has endured for centuries. People in Dalmatia always lived from olive oil production and wine making, producing for their own consumption, with some to spare. Each family, each village, and each community participated in olive and grape vine cultivation and many still continue today. This was supplemented by growing other food staples including vegetables and grains. They also reared sheep and goats for dairy produce and occasional meat. Inspired by the sea, the Dalmatian way of life remained almost unchanged until the mid 20th century. Incredibly, the Dalmatian people sustained this way of living, mostly until recently. In fact, Croatia is the only Slavic country in the Mediterranean, which embraces a maritime tradition that became deeply embedded in the customs and daily lives of our people. Labour of love and enjoyment It might seem that life was hard. In some ways it was, as work was very labour intensive. But it wasn’t something that people complained about. The whole thing about the evolution of our lifestyle is that people enjoyed working with their hands – creating – outdoors in nature. For a very worthwhile result. Olive oil production is embedded in the Dalmatian way of life supplementing food sources from the sea. People didn’t always work solo. At times it was a collective effort, where work was accompanied by engaging with family, neighbours and friends. With that came a sense of community and involvement, and producing something worthwhile and meaningful. Gaining skill and intricate knowledge in perfecting a task, having received the knowledge from one’s ancestors only to add something of your own to pass on to the next generation, was priceless. Tradtional wooden boat building arose as a neccessity from living by the sea. Every family had their own boat for transportation. In Murter the boat building tradition is now culturally protected. Balancing work and leisure The Dalmatian people were fortunate to enjoy an ideal work-life balance. A key aspect of the Dalmatian way of life is the relaxed mentality and attitude towards life. Despite hard work being necessary, it was also seen as rewarding. Meal preparation was enjoyed and appreciated just as much as the consumption of it. Typically, meals were prepared and enjoyed outdoors as often as possible. Dalmatian people have engaged in wine production for centuries. Food and wine were appreciated and enjoyed fully. Importantly, meals were enjoyed in the company of others, especially extended family and sometimes neighbours, and was never rushed. People also enjoyed laughing and doing what made them happy. Meal times were followed by the art of conversation, jokes and story telling, a form of entertainment that can never be replaced by modern technology and devices. A lifestyle to aspire to The sea-based Mediterranean lifestyle has been the subject of many studies, concluding that it’s the healthiest in the world, and it is recommended everyone should follow by example. Our diet is inscribed on the UNESCO world heritage intangible culture list. Centuries’ old tradition of salted sardines, a specialty from the Adriatic Sea, is a staple of the Dalmatian diet. It’s not just the diet (that is a story for another time). The key components of the Mediterranean lifestyle revolve around: exercise and movement – with a purpose; enjoying the fruits of one’s labour – homegrown food and wine; in the company of people – especially extended family, friends and neighbours; and, an easygoing attitude and relaxed mentality – devoid of serious stress. It’s this whole package that contributes to a healthy and disease-preventative lifestyle. Traditional method of drying figs in the sun, grown along the Dalmatian coast, remains unchanged today.