Looking for a traditional souvenir from the island of Hvar? Try Starigrojski Paprenjok – 800 years of Hvar tradition.
Another day, another invitation to a festival with a Hvar business promoting its products, this time the Crotour tourism fair in Zagreb from May 9-12, at which local Jelsa company will be promoting its wonderful island sounvenirs – the honey-based island pepper biscuit cake called Paprenkjak or Starigroiski Paprenjok in dialect.
Starogrojski paprenjok is an original souvenir made as a homage to a traditional biscuit which the women and girls of Stari Grad on the Island of Hvar have lovingly prepared since 1167 for their sons and husbands, packing them in sailor’s chests before their loved ones’ departure on long and faraway journeys.
These cakes are prepared according to a carefully preserved recipe of the old island women and have retained the traditional shapes of amphora, fish, heart, clover and other imaginative forms lined with sweet stripes and playful dots.
The earliest mention of the famous cake from Stari Grad, Starogrojski paprenjok, was left by Petar Hektorović, in his famous poem, ‘Ribanje i ribarsko prigovaranje’, from 1556. The work is a description of a three-day fishing trip from Stari Grad to the island of Šolta and back. In it, the poet Petar Hektorović sailed in the company of two fishermen, Paskoje and Nikola. They took with them: good wine muškatil, sweet wine (prošek), turta (cake), honeycomb, kaškaval cheese, fruit and paprenakov.
The main ingredient for paprenjok is honey. In the castle, that is, in the flaunting park, the Hektorović family cultivated poultry, silkworms and bees.
Hektorović’s farmers cultivated wheat in the fertile Stari Grad fields; they milled it in the mill located in Tvrdalj. Another important ingredient was also olive oil. The Hektorović family’s olive groves were located in the southern part of the town.
To prepare a paprenjok they also needed prošek (prosecco). Prošek was made from good quality grapes in the tavern in Tvrdalj.
The only thing which could not be cultivated in Tvrdalj were the aromatic herbs – cinnamon, cloves and nutmegs.
But in that period they were easily obtained, as the port of Stari Grad was located on the route between Venice, Dubrovnik and the numerous Mediterranean ports with which trade took place.
In Stari Grad cinnamon, cloves and nutmegs were, until the first half of the 20th century, known by the special name – papor. This gave the name of paprenjoki to these pastries.
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