Food is an important part of culture. Countries like Italy, Japan, and India have immediately recognizable styles of cooking that are known the world over, but what should Liberland’s style of cuisine be? One of the most exciting things about Liberland is that it is a blank canvas where brand new culture can easily be added and experimented with. Let’s muse a while on what Liberland’s food culture should be and why.
If we take America as an example, their national dish is the Hamburger. Despite not inventing the hamburger the Americans have claimed it as their own and it is now known internationally as the food of the United states. It was originally cooked in the German city of Hamburg, but New Yorkers were the first to put the meat patty between two pieces of bread and add all of the toppings we now associate with the food. Liberland could follow this model: take a beloved food and try to improve upon it, or we could follow the more traditional model.
Japan’s famous national dish, Sushi, came about from the countries geography and history. Wheat doesn’t naturally grow in Asia so rice has been the main carbohydrate for centuries, and early Japanese islanders stopped eating meat after Buddhism and Shintoism became so important that the killing of animals for meat was seen as wrong. This is an example of how a national dish can develop naturally. Most other nations have a similar historical tale behind their foods, but Liberland is so young that it has to take a different path.
Believe it or not the most popular food internationally is salad, according to Farm Flavors. Salad is the world’s most eaten food because it can cross all cultural boundaries. Wherever you are, a salad is health for the human body. Whilst it may be healthy this writer doesn’t want Liberland to be the country known for its salad. Somehow sacrificing taste for the hopes of a timely bowel movement doesn’t quite capture the ‘Live and let live’ ideals of this nation.
A national dish shouldn’t be chosen because of its health benefits. A nation needs a food that can be enjoyed; if it’s healthy that just a nice bonus. Cheese is a food loved across all of Europe. It’s used in all sorts of dishes both modern and traditional. With Liberland so close to Italy we can’t ignore the idea of a Liberland Pizza. There isn’t a country on earth that doesn’t love pizza, each one adding their own spin such as banana pizza in Sweden and Mayonnaise topped pizza in Japan. If we find an individual topping, like Hawaiian, it could become part of the nation’s identity.
Looking to Italy for food inspiration is never ill advised but there are two closer sources of inspiration. Liberland is sandwiched between Croatia and Serbia, both nations with their own cultures and cuisines. If Liberland wanted to explore its Balkan heritage and try to get to know its neighbors a bit more, food might be a good place to start.
Croatia has more seafood dishes, such as oysters, due to its lengthy coastline . This might be a bit challenging for Liberlanders as the country only has access to freshwater and much of the world’s population does not eat fish. Liberland’s citizens are from all around the globe and thus future restaurants will need to cater to diverse tastes. Of course, Croatia’s cuisine is more than seafood; they eat a lot of cheesy dishes like zagorski štrukli, a pastry baked with soft Croatian cheeses, butter and cream. It has a very soft texture and a smooth but often tangy taste.
On the other side, Serbia is all about the meat. Serbians love cevapi, kebab-esk sausages of meat that are served with flat bread and maybe some vegetables on the side. There is also the Serbian hamburger; pljeksavica, that is grilled meat sometimes stuffed with cheese. I’ve always enjoyed combinations of meat and cheese, this may even be a good way for Liberland to respect its neighbors and help inspire peace in the region. By experimenting with Serbian meat and Croatian cheese Liberland could create a cross cultural meal everyone could enjoy.
All of these ideas sound good to me. In fact, I am getting hungry just writing this. It’s fun to think about how the future of Liberland will be, but the truth is that a food culture has to grow organically. We can’t truly predict how people will eat in this little nation until people are living their lives shaping the culture with ever decision, no matter how mundane. We could eat cheese and bread like Europe, rice and beans like Asia, or tinned foods and fruits like tropical island nations.
Only time will tell.