At the edge of the Kopački Rit Nature Park in the Croatian historical region of Slavonia lies the Kopačevo village. As we found out, people here always lived “with one foot in the water and the other on land”. Usually twice a year the waters from surrounding wetlands rise and flood local pastures making raising cattle difficult but providing an abundance of fish. In the modern day, though agriculture is the main occupation for the majority of villagers, Kopačevo still holds an annual fish festival. The highlights include šaran u rašljama, or flattened carp roasted next to a fire and fiš paprikaš — a spicy fish soup/gulash.
During the festival it’s people who flood the village. Garlands of drying peppers – abundantly present in local dishes – decorate the arcades of characteristic, ornamented houses in the village. There are rows of stalls standing along the two main roads; fiš paprikaš bubbles in large cauldrons hanging over wood-fed fires. This simple dish is prepared using different kinds of fresh-water fish, large amounts of both sweet and spicy paprika and, usually, some white wine. Fiš paprikaš is served with egg noodles and (as everything else) with loads of fluffly, bun-like bread. It’s worth a try, if you’re in the area. We sampled alongside the crowds, from the festival cauldrons but there are also two restaurants in the village, one of them the Lonely Planet recommened Zelena Žaba .