Secret Dalmatia Blog - Travel Experiences in Croatia

Date-shells in Croatia – Culinary sins

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Recently I had a chance to get some date-shells but I refused…

More than one reason for that.

The date-shells traditional way
The date-shells "traditional way"

Date-shells are the “no,no” food in Croatia and don’t order them, don’t ask for them, don’t try to buy them. And, if someone offers you to join at their table, say no. It is better than to keep thinking about the “forbidden fruits of the sea” forever after and you can also get fined up to 6000 USD for just ordering them!

Last time I had them was several years back in one restaurant on Kornati Islands. We got there at the time of lunch and we were offered to join by the owners whom we knew well (they closed since…). I still remembered the taste since the childhood when they were not banned…

The problem with date – shells, or PRSTACI in Croatian, is that the only way to get them is by breaking the stones where they live in the sea. These stones, rocks are very recognizable since the date-shell creates a hole for it’s growing shell. The easiest way is to brake the rock using a hammer and that causes terrible devastation of the coast. Kilometers have been devastated in the past…

All this for a meal or two…

Date-shells cooking
Date-shells cooking

There has been an attempt to regulate the devastation by allowing some fishermen to use tweezers but that was taking too long for some. After the government saw that the problem is getting out of any control, they raised the fines to serious amounts.

It takes about 20 years for date-shell to reach 5 CM (2 Inches) and up to 80 years to reach it’s maximum length of 12 CMs. Also remember that a meter of the coastline is destroyed for every 20 pieces…

Still, some irresponsible restaurants keep getting the date-shells and offering them “under the table” to their best guests. The cost went from 300 Kn (some 40 Euros) few years back to whooping 800 to 1200 Kn for a kilo (almost 120 -170 Euros)

The government camapign for protecting our date-shells
The government camapign for protecting our date-shells

Government is severely punishing everyone caught but the demand is quite big in high-end restaurants that the “war” is not over yet. The newspapers keep bringing the news of new arrests almost weekly. The punishment is about 50 Kn (about 10 USD) for each shell found.

Although tasty, simply not worth it. Say no to date-shells.

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