The Pag cheese tradition
Pag cheese is a beauty
made of sage and immortelle, mugwort and cistus,
Jerusalem thorn and fennel
salted by hurricanes from two basins
eaten by Biliška and Mrkuša
Kaloka and Rogulja, Ćala and Pećara
hiding among babulja rocks.
Šime Gligora continues his father's verses:
The bora, the sheep, the man. And the island of Pag. Here comes the recipe for Pag cheese, the most famous Croatian autochthonous cheese.
The bora – the cold wind, rough and dangerous, unpredictable, moody, and so much needed. Needed for survival of the fittest. Only the plants such as sage, immortelle, cistus, Jerusalem thorn, fennel, could survive growing in the salty soil receiving the sea water from two basins: the channel under Velebit, and the Bay of Pag, and containing the salutary aromatic substances.
The Pag sheep – called Biliška, Ćara, Pećara, Rogulja and Kaloka, resisted to the bora during centuries. The sheep eat aromatic plants in the meadows, among the rocks called babulji.
The sheep are fully accustomed to the rough island weather and present an autochthonous species being kept freely on the pastures.
Only the strongest and the most resistant can survive on the island. Together with the Pag sheep humans also survived here. They received the wool, the skin, the meat and finally the cheese from the sheep. The cheese is the Pag's essence, the beauty. But it is not easily obtained. People used to get up before the dawn, build drystone walls, milk the sheep with their hands, turn the cheese around to preserve it…. a battle. Who is the strongest one? The bora, the island, the sheep? The human?
But the effort is always recognized.
The island of Pag is most diverse Adriatic island with the highest number of basins, where the mild Mediterranean climate and the rough and cold continental climate of the snowy mountain tops meet thanks to the nearby Velebit, the most beautiful Croatian mountain.