Konoba (from the Latin canaba, meaning a hovel, hut or shed) can refer to a catering object made and designed for an ambience suitable for littoral area. Tables, chairs and other inventory are all made of high-quality wood. Konoba is a synonym of a place where one expects to find specialties typical for littoral and Dalmatian cuisine like fish, clams, prosciutto, domestic cheese, and from beverages brandy (rakija) and wine. Konoba may also indicate an object which is not used for catering, but private purposes only, like a wine-cellar with a fireplace for preparation of various dishes.
In the past, konoba denoted a vineyard tool shed, but also a storage room for the wine itself. History of konoba is not just related to Croatian littoral and Dalmatia, but also to wine-cellars in the hinterland. A place called Petrovsko in Croatian hinterland is mentioned in 1334 under the name Konoba, the name itself being derived after cellar, i.e. konoba, of a nearby seigniory. More recently, in the 19th century, konoba denoted an auxiliary building of taverns, envisaged as a storage room for wine and food supplies. Hence, the root of the word ‘waiter’ (Croatian ‘konobar’). Waiters used to be support staff who would bring wine and food from konoba.
Croatian writer from Hvar Miki Bratanić is the author of the book “Konoba“, a truly interesting piece of work to read. Dalamatian klapas, music, wine, vinegar, olive oil, prosciutto, anchovies or other gastronomic delights and other Dalmatian sacred treasures are born in konoba. The key to the door of konoba still preserves the threads of memories where young wines and proscioutti aged. To peek into this world means to peek in thyself, to realize who we are and comprehend the language of our ancestors. So, when we talk aboout Dalamtia, when we praise it and sing in its honour, we need to know that everything Dalmatia once was and now is, came out from konoba. Konoba is the cradle of Dalmatia, Bratanić says in his book.
Dalmatian konoba is recognized as a place which unites material and non-material heritage through local gastronomy and preservation of everyday tradition. Hopefully, it will soon be recognized formally as well, and will acquire a title “true Dalmatian” (cultural heritage). This new quality label for products and services from different fields are precisely being defined by the authorised institutions of Split-Dalmatia County.
Additionally, true Dalmatian konoba is defined as a catering place that must comply with certain enogastronomic standards in its form (appearance) and content (offer), providing affordable prices.
Konoba, as an elementary unit of Dalmatian cuisine aimes at keeping local gastronomic tradition and encouraging (micro)local food and dishes.
Many songs also honour konoba as the place of love, tradition, cookery, tourism, beauty and cosy friendly meetings. Konoba mine, joy all of mine….!