Croatian ambassador mixes diplomacy, culinary arts

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 If there are two things the Croatian ambassador to the Holy See takes seriously, they're his diplomatic work 

The day before he's to host a lunch with 28 colleagues from other embassies, Neven Pelicarić is hard at work in a nearby kitchen. Meticulous attention is shown to every detail of the handful of dishes he's preparing. 

The gathering will not only join Pelicarić's peers, but also honor a special guest – Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin – who the Croatian ambassador assures has made a special connection with his country. 

NEVEN PELICARIĆ Ambassador, Croatia
“The secretary of state visited Croatia last October, the same month when my prime minister of Croatia made his official visit to the Holy Father and the secretary of state. There's a strong dynamic between the countries, and this opportunity to welcome the secretary of state into the Croatian embassy is a great honor for me and one for the continued building of these strong, friendly ties.”

As the meal is also an opportunity to showcase his nation and its culture, Chef Pelicarić aims to give attendees a distinct taste of each of the country's regions. 

NEVEN PELICARIĆ Ambassador, Croatia
“We hope they enjoy this trip through the Croatian gastronomic and oenologic landscape. Each person will like some things more than others, but we hope, all in all, it will be a beautiful mix.”

While some of his peers might've just hired a catering company, Pelicarić himself shows a true passion for all things culinary art. After a full afternoon and early morning of preparation, the table is set, and the feast is ready. 

First, though, “Grace” must be said; and who better to lead it than Cardinal Parolin himself?

“Bless us, Oh Lord...”

Following a five-course spread complete with octopus and wild boar, all parties involved are satisfied. Among them is Ambassador Tomaž Kunstelj, who may have been one of the few people who were familiar with the entrees. 

TOMAŽ KUNSTELJ Ambassador, Slovenia
“The atmosphere for me, coming from a neighboring country to Croatia, was a taste of proximity, of friendship. Many ingredients have been used which are also common in Slovenia, so I really appreciate how the ambassador prepared the whole story of different dishes at this event.”

His Croatian counterpart's taste is not limited to his own country. Before arriving in Rome in 2016, Pelicarić served as ambassador to Spain for four years. While that of his homeland could never be replaced, the Spanish cuisine has surely found itself a place in the diplomat's heart. 

NEVEN PELICARIĆ Ambassador, Croatia
“Spanish food is wonderful. There's a wide range of dishes from people who are truly poor, but cook them at a very high level. The Spanish tortilla is a poor, but extremely interesting dish. I offer it to my friends very often because it's so representative of Spain.”

Whether it's a meal with friends, or one to celebrate the Vatican's secretary of state, Neven Pelicarić has plenty of secrets in his cookbook. 

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