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Second Taste of Albania

First, a word for Authors of Fantasy Whose Characters Eat in Taverns:

If ever you get slammed by critters/readers because your characters eat the ubiquitous bowl of stew, all you have to say is, "My world is loosely based on Albania, and there, they eat lots of stew."


The second day, upon arriving, I ordered takeout from a neighborhood restaurant, not yet ready to dive into adventures in cooking with two pots and a pan (and no cooking utensils besides soup spoons and freakishly flat forks). Sensing I hadn't a clue and couldn't speak a word in Albanian, the helpful server at the one-room eatery invited me behind the counter where the cook proceeded to lift the lid off seven of the ten pots she had on the counters and enormous range. Each and every one contained a different kind of stew.  Her husband (I think) took the lid off another to reveal what looked more like a soup--smaller pieces of what-have-you in a thin broth--something the locals eat for lunch; they didn't offer me that one. So, yeah, lots of stew-like dishes.  Oh, and if want rice, you ask for a "pilaf."  Easy enough, that.

And for breakfast that morning, in addition to a wonderfully tasty loaf of bread, Julien brought home a profiterole.  It looked like this:

Not at all what we are used to. Didn't taste at all like we are used to either.  Julien ended up eating it; I would have died of sugar shock had it been up to me to finish it.

In addition to stews, Albanians are verrrrry big on pasta.  And pizza.  You see as many, if not more, restaurants with Italian dishes on the menu than Albanian fare, and there's a pizzeria on every corner when you're trying to get home.... ahem, sorry about that.*

Fast food, hot dogs, "tost" (still don't know what they mean by that; grilled cheese maybe?), and "krepas" are pretty big, too, not to mention sanduiçs!** 
* please tell me you get the silly song reference.
** In Albanian, the cedilla is pronounced "ch"


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 18th, 2011 11:42 pm (UTC)
It might be too sweet, but it sure is pretty!

And pizza and pasta was NOT what I had expected of Albanian food. :p

I would have said tost = toast, but then I might be in for a surprise.
Dec. 19th, 2011 08:03 am (UTC)
I know! I was expecting things more influenced by Turkish and Greek...
Dec. 19th, 2011 09:43 am (UTC)
Yeah, C and I were guessing mediterranian-ish, but with influences from Eastern Europe.
Dec. 19th, 2011 12:52 pm (UTC)
Maybe we'll get more "traditional" stuff during our stay away from the capital.
Dec. 19th, 2011 01:16 am (UTC)
who knew Marco Polo was really from Albania.
Dec. 19th, 2011 08:02 am (UTC)
not I! Or if I did, I forgot it. :P
Dec. 19th, 2011 06:10 am (UTC)
In Israel "tost" usually means something like grilled cheese. It refers to any variation of cheese sandwich toasted in a sandwich press, which is a standard piece of equipment in an Israeli kitchen. (This can be a disappointing surprise for people who order a "toasted bagel" at an Israeli bagel place. Because instead of two nice toasted bagel slices you can spread butter or cream cheese on, you will get a flattened, dried-out thing with melted cheese oozing out the sides. Unfortunately, believe it or not, Israelis are not big on bagels and you will only find bagel places in areas with high concentrations of Americans. You will also not be able to find proper bagels in a bakery or supermarket except, maybe, in those areas.)

Dec. 19th, 2011 08:02 am (UTC)
Fascinating! I love learning this stuff. :D
Dec. 19th, 2011 06:05 pm (UTC)
Me too!!! *cultural geek*

Dec. 19th, 2011 03:24 pm (UTC)
So -- how *was* the stew? And can one tell the difference between those 10 variations by smell and looks alone, or do some look just like the others?
Dec. 21st, 2011 08:22 pm (UTC)
We tasted three (four now) different kinds. I'll go into more detail in another post. :)
Dec. 20th, 2011 01:16 am (UTC)
That dessert looks like a yummy custard! Too sweet? Impossible!

And good to know about taverns and stew :-) Do the different stews have different flavors, I wonder?
Dec. 21st, 2011 08:21 pm (UTC)
They do have different flavors/ingredients. I can't believe I didn't mention that. But my head has been so groggy and pained of late. I'll rectify it soon.
Dec. 21st, 2011 03:15 pm (UTC)
A hearty bowl of stew in a dark old tavern sounds perfect on this cold winter day! But I'm not getting the sense that you are terribly impressed with your Albanian experience thus far?
Dec. 21st, 2011 08:23 pm (UTC)
I'm still processing a bit, but I've had a lingering case of crud since I arrived and these last few days it escalated into Fullblown Crud. I've been blogging, when I do, out of obligation, and that is never good, or never as good as it could be.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )


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