Small fishing academy Pilchard
– Fažana’s challenge in the fishing net of tradition
Freshly caught, still hot, taken right off the grill, pilchard in Fažana is the fish with a special taste and smell of the Adriatic Sea. As the finest breakfast, main meal, any meal at all… Prepared in many different ways, the best reason for chasing it down with a glass of Malvasia or Teran, this fish has its own Academy in Fažana – Small fishing academy “Pilchard” – in the vicinity of Pula and within reach of the Brijuni Islands!
Famed for its crystal-clear sea the Fažana Channel connects Fažana and Brijuni. Here on the terra firma the fishing tradition was mentioned as early as the Middle Ages and has remained a well-known theme up to the present day. Fishing boats, dinghies and batane rocking gently along the two wharfs in Fažana; boats leaving port in the evening with their fishing lights and the morning activities at the waterfront. Fishing is part of the family bond: even today you can see the diligent women from Fažana as they clean and mend fishing nets after the fishermen return from sea. Pilchard, anchovy, mackerel… This is the most frequently caught fish in Fažana’s fishing nets! It was sold to the neighboring population, served in hotels on the Brioni Islands at the tables of élite guests or transported to the fish processing plant. But, fish from Fažana was exported as well. The regular boat service between Pula and Trieste also included Fažana as its port of call, so fish as well as lobsters and crabs “grancevole” could be taken from Fažana to be served at banquets in Trieste and Vienna.
Pilchard is included in nearly every catering offer of Fažana and Valbandon. Along the Pilchard road at the waterfront, which you can easily pass on foot, traditionally prepared pilchard in restaurants and inns will surely please every guest. The possibility of tasting pilchard, together with instructions explaining the preparation are all part of the tourist offer and local traditions, whereas the yearly programs cover specific thematic events.
Within the program of the Fishing academy “Pilchard” an especially interesting event in May is the Fažana school of salting pilchard. The right quantity of fish, as well as salt, how it is arranged in the container, oil and seasoning, all the secrets of skilled Fažana fishermen are there for you to see. In any case, the fish should be salted properly! And that is why such a school is needed.
Sea on the table (June) and Rhapsody in blue (September) offer a wide culinary variety of preparing pilchard in 100 different ways based on imaginativeness and skill, transforming simplicity into sumptuous dishes. Tasting fish in Fažana, together with olive oil and a glass of homemade wine, is the perfect opportunity for new encounters and ideas. The sea is the school of life. Storms and tempests, open seas and sheltered coves… are all reflected in the faces of fishermen, while their hands weave nets out of old and new knowledge.
Pilchard festival and Things that fishermen know (August) are fisherman’s festivals where these men of the sea present their traditional skills in various ways. Fishermen display different examples of marine life and needed equipment. They explain to visitors how certain fish is caught, how fishing equipment is handled and used, how fishing nets are mended and fishing needles are wound… So, everyone becomes a fisherman: children, tourists, chance travellers and visitors. The world of fishermen and fishing tradition in Fažana is also reflected in artistic creations. Here, where the wavelets reach the very tables of nearby restaurants along Fažana’s seaside promenade, where the sea keeps up with the times, past and present – this is the site of the distinctive open-air gallery: Pilchard park !
This sculptor’s promenade has been thematically organized by evoking the silvery blue fish in the traditional words used by old fishermen of Fažana. Laštra, frega, ardor, šušana, buriole are the names of sculptures dedicated to the “little provider, modest nurturer” known as pilchard. Both with its heart and offer, the tradition of this fishing-tourist town is turned towards the sea, calling out to skilled local fishermen, children and their parents, tourists and modern Argonauts. It is an invitation to the authentic atmosphere and tales of old fishermen on the luck and skillfulness, on shallows and positions, mercy of wind and waves, through stories echoing the words of our ancestors and challenges of modern times.
Award presented by the Istria Tourist Board
Zlatna koza – Capra d´oro
– in 2004 for the Fishing academy Pilchard project
– in 2006 for the Pilchard Park project
Simply the Best
– in 2017 for the Fishing academy Pilchard project