Stari Grad paprenojok – from cake to souvenir

Stari Grad paprenojok is synonymous with a cake which dates back to 1167, written about by famous Petar Hektorović in his ‘’Fishing and Fishermen’s Talk’’. The popularity of this authentic Hvar (Stari Grad) cake has begun to rise again in recent years with the recipe being passed from generation to generation. There are very few people on the island these days who know the ‘’secret’’ behind the process of making this cake, its special forms and decoration techniques.

Thanks to the Stari Grad Tourist Board and its president Danijela Vlahović the Stari Grad paprenjok has been placed on the list of protected Croatian cultural goods.

Paprenjok is in fact a sort of gingerbread, hand formed and decorated. Through history it was found without exception on the tables of island families for every family celebration (first communion, confirmation, weddings, Christmas…).

In the last few years this cake has experienced another application. Besides the fact you can sample it in most Stari Grad restaurants, it has also remained part of the traditional spread at island weddings, it can now be bought as a souvenir and taken home as a reminder of your time on the island. This paprenjok (souvenir) is not edible, it can be used as a decoration and it looks identical to the real one (cake). Some used it to decorate their Christmas trees.

Souvenirs we can buy on Hvar these days are mostly ‘’Made in China’’ and very few of them are authentic and carry a piece of the rich history of the island of Hvar. The transformation of paprenjok from cake to souvenir was made possible by Mrs. Branka Visković who we had the chace to talk with in Jelsa.

On the Jelsa riva in the facilities of the award winning vinery PZ Svirče we have conducted an extremely pleasant interview and photo session. This kind of paprenjok (souvenir) is a protected island product and it is made out of flour and salt. It is formed by molds and by hand, then hand decorated (just like the original cake) but it isn’t edible. It’s application is exclusively promotional and decorative. Mrs. Branka hands it out to for example passengers of the excursion boat Diadora used by her and her husband to do routes to the nearby Bol on Brač. 

Besides Hvar, within the Croatian island product mark cooperative (with the Ministry of Regional Development and European Integrations) , a store is planned to be opened in Zagreb, Dubrovnik and Split. Basically in every larger town. In this way a part of Hvar history would get its place under the sun and would be placed among the offer of other authentic Croatian souvenirs. Furthermore, for a few years now Mrs. Branka has been trying to get the islanders interested in protecting their products under the prestigious Croatian island product brand.

Widening the net of business associates and with a larger number of protected souvenirs and products this (and similar) souvenirs might find their place on island stands, in our hotels and souvenir shops and in that way promote the island of Hvar as a tourist destination with rich history and tradition.

‘’Paprenjok is the best souvenir in the Prefecture’’

A special commission of SDŽ Tourist Board within the ‘’I love Croatia’’ initiative has proclaimed the Stari Grad paprenjok the best souvenir in this area by awarding this prestigious award. (article by M. Crnčević – Slobodna Dalmacija - Croatian only)

More about this souvenir can be found on its Facebook page here, and in case you want to do business with them it can be used to make contact.

For OH: Igor Kolumbić

Photos: FotoFOR

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