Kaboga velika

Association Kinookus Continues with the Project of the Dubrovnik GCH Valorisation

Within the programme of the 71st Dubrovnik Summer Festival, on Wednesday, 15 July, in Bunić-Kaboga Summer Villa, Ivan Viđen held a lecture about the role of food in the diplomacy of the Republic of Dubrovnik titled “Food as Delicious Means of Persuasion”.

The programme Kinookus in Bunić–Kaboga Summer Villa is the result of a new cooperation between the Association and Dubrovnik Summer Festival, and Caboga Stifung Foundation, which in a way represents a continuation of different Kinookus projects whose aim is a systematic consideration and valorisation of tangible and intangible gastronomic and cultural heritage of Dubrovnik and its surrounding region.

The topic of heritage valorisation as a driver of sustainable economic, cultural and social development is regaining more and more importance as a result of the new situation in the world, which forced the countries as well as local communities to take time to seriously rethink the social and economic models they have been applying.

The idea behind the lecture was to “revive” the space of the Renaissance Bunić-Kaboga summer villa by telling a historical story about the delicacies which the Dubrovnik nobility, with their meticulously thought-through approach, employed to persuade their political opponents – the representatives of great powers and important centres of power at the time – to support them or at least to reinforce its own arguments and positions. And the lecture held was a success as all 60 places in the garden of the summer villa were filled while at the same time complying with the recommendations of the Croatian Institute for Public Health regarding the COVID-19 situation. All the visitors were given the booklet Slow Travel Book, one of the results of the project Slow Food Central Europe, the first travel guide for those who follow the principles of good, clean and fair food when choosing places to visit, stay overnight, shop, eat at or places for their pleasure and entertainment.

The lecture held by the art historian and archaeologist Ivan Viđen, which was based on the Dubrovnik archival records, Renaissance and Baroque literature and recent scientific literature, started with a short introduction about the project the lecture had stemmed from and by highlighting the specific values of the Bunić-Kaboga summer villa within the framework of the Dubrovnik country architecture.

Through a number of illustrations and anecdotes the audience was able to find out more about the food which was used and the way it was used in the famous diplomacy of the Republic of Dubrovnik, and what were the dietary habits of the nobility as well as the commoners. The centuries-old diplomatic practice also shows changes in the styles and fashion of food preparation and serving. Thanks to the abundant materials from the State Archives in Dubrovnik and efforts of few researchers today we know much more about the “around-the-table diplomacy” that helped the people of Dubrovnik to maintain their position among powerful neighbours and other European supremacies. Diplomatic gifts were not only the practice of Dubrovnik of course, but that practice provided ways of learning about the specificities of Dubrovnik and its wise governance throughout the centuries. Apart from being mentioned in the diplomatic protocols, the ingredients, cooking and dining were often referred to in the old Dubrovnik literature. Therefore, the lecture covered that aspect too in order to provide a better picture of dining culture of the people of old Dubrovnik. It is interesting that such a research eliminates some of the popular misconceptions of the proverbial Dubrovnik frugality.

After the lecture a short prize game followed where the audience had to provide correct answers to the lecturer’s questions, that is to find the odd ones among the suggested answers containing information about the ingredients mentioned in the lecture.

While preparing the lecture it has become evident that despite many studies sporadically mentioning this topic, actually there is no scientific work where the role of food in the diplomacy of the Republic of Dubrovnik is a central topic. Therefore, the lecture held by Ivan Viđen has shed a different light on this undoubtedly interesting topic.