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article imageCelebrating edible dormice on Hvar: Meet the Tartajun president

By Paul Bradbury     Aug 11, 2014 in Food
Dol - The biggest annual festival on Croatia's premier island is rather unusual — dormouse eating on Hvar. Meet the President of Tartajun.
Famed for its sunshine, lavender, nightlife and celebrity draw, visitors to the island of Hvar in Croatia are often surprised to learn that the most popular annual festival on the island each year involves eating dormice; Digital Journal met Tartajun President Jure Moskatelo on August 11, 2014 to find out why.
Located in the unfashionable inland village of Dol, the association Tartajun has achieved considerable success in documenting and promoting the history and traditions of the village since being founded almost a decade ago. What started out as a drunken idea to found a magazine for the village has blossomed into perhaps Croatia's unique festivals, the Puhijada, whose central mascot is the edible dormouse, just one tradition which defines a remarkable village. This year's festival programme, which culminates in a little dormouse on the grill, can be found here.
One of he dormice species.
One of he dormice species.
1. A dormouse festival? It sounds a little different... Do you really eat dormice?
It is a little bit weird and funny, but we do eat them and enjoy it, as well as our guests. It is a tradition in our village.
The puhijada is a 5-day event with something for everyone
The puhijada is a 5-day event with something for everyone
Sime Surjak
2. The festival is now the biggest event on Hvar, an island famous for celebrities, nightlife and big yachts. How did the festival start?
It first started as a joke during afternoon coffee at the village pub, Trocadero, in winter time, when we had nothing to do. The first step was to produce a magazine, Tartajun, and then after 3 years of planing we decided to organize an event where the magazine could be presented. After the first event, our sponsors and guests appreciated our idea and we felt obliged to do it again.
Jure Moskatelo  President of Tartajun
Jure Moskatelo, President of Tartajun
Jure Moskatelo
3. Dol does not seem to be the most fashionable destination on Hvar, but it attracts lots of artists, and has a nickname Little Marrakesh. Can you explain why Dol is so special?
Dol is special because of its untouched nature and quiet surroundings. It is in the middle of the island, not far away from other bigger places but still far away enough to have its soul.
4. Tartajun has done great work highlighting the traditions and history of Dol. How important is this connection with the village's past?
It is very important because if this connection did not exist, there would be no inspiration to start the magazine and to organise the event. Actually, most editions of the magazine were dedicated to the history of the village and their way of life and life philosophy.
There were two enthusiastic guardians of the living dormouse  including Hannah B. who gave her first...
There were two enthusiastic guardians of the living dormouse, including Hannah B. who gave her first television interview with Hvar TV
5. Like many other places in Dalmatia, Dol suffered from large depopulation in the 20th century. Are young people now coming back to the village, and how would you describe life in Dol today.
It is true, but in the last few years some things have changed. A few young families, whose parents are originally from Dol, decided to start their life in our village. We are happy because most of them are members of Tartajun. Life in Dol is very relaxed and anyone who has a job during the whole year is considered lucky. Most of the people are working in their own fields growing vegetables, olives and wine.
The efforts of Tartajun have led to the regeneration of life in Dol
The efforts of Tartajun have led to the regeneration of life in Dol
Sime Surjak
6. And finally, some tips on how to eat a dormouse?
We prepare it on the grill with liberal addition of olive oil and salt. Dormouse is best served between two slices of bread and with eyes closed. Hahahaha.
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