How to begin the story of lumblija?
We could begin this story by stating the fact that lumblija is a cake made from yeast-leavened dough that owes its distinctive taste to the dedication and love needed for the long process of its preparation and baking, but of course also to its special ingredients that are picked during the summer: it contains almonds, walnuts, raisins, orange and lemon, various spices added in carefully defined proportions, and the dessert’s essential ingredient, varenik, a syrup made from must (“young wine”) that is slowly cooked for several hours until reduced to a dark sweet syrup.
The best way to experience lumblija’s full Mediterranean flavour is if you try it on the island of Korčula. Once you try it, you will most definitely never forget it… Why? Because its aroma, taste and smell evoke memories and, more importantly, bring us back to our roots and connect us to our ancestors, as well as to the people we don’t want to forget, those who are especially dear to us, those who are far away from us or, unfortunately, no longer with us.
Lumblija as a traditional delicacy tells the story of a traditional way of life on the island, its environment and living on the island of Korčula. In addition to the historical tradition it connotes, it is also linked to a legend: a love story that our visitors find very appealing.
Given the centuries-old presence of lumblija in these areas and its importance not only in gastronomy, but also in the cultural, historical, traditional and, more recently, tourist sense, the story of lumblija cannot be summarized in a single tale... especially when taken into consideration that the Croatian Ministry of Agriculture has protected in June 2021 on a national level “Lumblija” as protected geographical indication (PGI). The procedure has been initialized by Kumpanjija Knights’ Society Blato and Olive Oil Producers Association Vela Luka.
The legend of lumblija: first encounter
Lumblija is a traditional cake made on the island of Korčula. Its recipe is over two hundred years old, and there is also a legend associated with this traditional dessert.
The story that goes hand in hand with the ritual of making lumblija, even to this day, tells of two young people in love: a French army baker and a young girl. Unfortunately, they had to part ways due to a combination of circumstances. The soldier left, Napoleonic rule ceased, and the young girl and her name were lost in countless love stories, but lumblija remains as a remembrance of those days. The words n’oublie pas sounded like “lumblija” to the girl, but the message was clear and the language barrier overcame.
Lumblija is usually prepared in early November, a time when people remember their loved ones. Thus, it retained its initial meaning: remembering and connecting with a loved one, and today it often signifies connection with the homeland, too.
Every year on All Saints’ Day in Blato, on the main square Plokata just under the beautiful walls of Blato’s loggia, the blessing and tasting of traditionally prepared lumblijas is held with the aim of preserving the town’s traditions and customs. Lumblijas are prepared by the students of Blato Secondary School, with the help of their professors and parents. The traditional manifestation “Days of lumblija is organized as well.
The Kumpanjija Blato, knights’ society, also cherishes and conserves the tradition of preparing lumblija in its Food Folklore Section, while members and friends of the society also prepare it for the traditional House Feast (“Kućna zabava”) which is held every year in early February.
In all households on the island of Korčula, making lumblija is a centuries-old historical tradition, together with carolling and the celebration of All Saints’ Day.
Gastronomy and indigenous, traditional desserts are a part of history that connects our islands and their expats. In times of great poverty, when material goods were scarce, the only thing they could take with them to the unknown distant world were the tastes, smells and memories of their homeland. So many of them retained memories of dishes that took them back to their childhood and places where they grew up. As they were leaving, they hoped for a better life and that they wouldn’t forget the place they left behind. Among countless other memories and recollections, they also retained the memory of lumblija and its delicious taste and aroma.
This symbolism is still present, as lumblija represents a cake of remembrance and reminiscence.
Its ingredients make lumblija a long-life dessert that tastes better the more it rests.
“Forget me not” is a message sent every year that lasts for a very long time.
Registered lumblija's producers in Blato:
- OPG Mirjana & Danko Mirošević 00385 99 684 6546
- OPG Protić Sanja 00 385 91 763 3130
- Moja Nadalina j.d.o.o. 00385 95 843 2220
- Konoba- pizzeria Zlinje 00 385 91 576 2221