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Traditional Food of Albania

Fertile climate, nearness to the sea and cooperation with the neighboring countries have had a huge impact on diversity and profusion of Albanian cuisine. Variety of dishes was adopted from the Byzantines, Venetians and Arabs. In Albania you can taste spider crab brodetto or risotto just like in neighboring Spain. The Albanians borrowed chevapchichi, razhnichi, many types of moussaka and sure enough pilawa from Yougslav cuisine (Figure).

The basic components of almost all dishes are meat and vegetables. You can taste practically traditional croquettes called «chofte», shish kebab and other familiar dishes here, but each chef adds his own traditions and tastes to them.

 

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Albanian cuisine can be nominally divided into three regions:

1. Cuisine of northern regions of the country.

The main foodstuff here is grinded corn. It is used to bake bread and make various types of sweet and salty national dishes.

Kidney beans, potato, carrot and cabbage are grown and consequently used for making food in the northern regions of the country as well. Onion and garlic are added to almost all dishes. Climate of the north is favorable for growth of cherry, pump, walnut and almond. Plump is the main component of the Albanian national drink Rakia.

Traditional dishes here are meat or vegetable casserole, petula (which resembles Russian bliny), rice boiled in meat or vegetable broth, pasta, chicken and rice, sudjuk (a kind of salami), eggplant and egg or parsley filling, sweets and corn flour cakes.

Culinary art of Shkoder is at the head of the table of all northern regions. Fish dishes are extremely popular here as there are a lot of rivers and lakes in this town. Carp and acne are the most common food ingredients, they are roast in an oven or a baking oven, grilled and used as a soup ingredient.

 

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2. Cuisine of central part of the country.

Plentiful soil and fertile climate of the center of Albania are favorable for growing almost all vegetables and fruit. Variety of animals and poultry is also a characteristic of this region - chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys are raised here. Variety of such fish as flounder, perch, acne, sole, gray mullet lives in the Adriatic sea.

Traditional dishes here are meat baked in yogurt (Tav Elbasani), curd stew, egg cakes, cabbage cakes, spinach cakes, white cheese cakes, nettle cakes, liver and curd and balokume dessert.

3. Cuisine of southern region of the country.

Stock-rearing is popular here, so milk and other dairy are often used as foodstuffs. This part of the country is also well-known for its production of various types of hard and soft cheese. And kefir made in the south is so thick that you to cut it with a knife. Warm marine climate provides ideal conditions for growing citrus cultures and olives. Olive oil is also everywhere here – people use it for frying, they add it to different salads and use it as a skin humidifier. The olives are canned and added in various dishes.

 

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Popular meat dishes are stewed meat and onion (chumlek), veal stew (ferges), lamb meat and yogurt (tave-kosi and tave-elbasani), beef roast in fermented milk sauce (rosto-mi-salche-kosi), sheep pluck stuffed with meat and vegetables (kukurech), beef stew (chomlek), cabbage rolls (sarma), meat stew with vegetables and potato (guvech), roasted whole sheep head and barbeque with vegetables. Meat is traditionally served with pilawa (rice) and miscellaneous greens.

In summer cold soup called «tarator» serves before the second dishes is highly popular. This soup contains water acidified with vinegar or sour milk, lettuce or cucumber, garlic, fennel, walnut, olive oil and spices. Tarator is sometimes served with ice.

 

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Fish.

Local cuisine doubtlessly prioritizes landlocked trout, carp and acne from Shkoder and Ohrid lakes. Sea-fish is used for cooking everyday dishes and is cooked to traditional recipes.

Sweets and desserts.

Crystallized or desiccated fruit «oshaf», sweet cakes with rice or honey, sheep milk puddings, wheat (ashure) or rice (sultash) puddings, fruit syrup or juice are usually the dessert. Fruit are eaten the year around in Albania. Au natural they are used for desserts. Compots and jams are made of them. They are canned in whole or as juices. Favorite fruit and berries of the Albanians are cherry, black cherry, pears, apples, peaches, apricots, melons, watermelons, figs, grapes, lemons, oranges and persimmon.

Walnuts, almond and chestnuts are often used while cooking various dishes.

Drinks.

Major national drink in Albania is grape brandy Rakia drunk as an appetizer before supper.

As for Albanian wines, they are not very well known in the international market, but have excellent taste, bouquet and low prices though. White wine compared with red one is of higher quality but it a matter of taste as they say.

 

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Red wines

«Shesh» and «Zi» made in Tirana and Durres;

«Cabernet» and «Merlot» made in Berat, Lushnje, Vlora and Permet

«Calmet» made in Shkoder and Peshopi

«Mavrod» made in Leskovik and Lushnje.

White wines.

«Shesh I Bardhe» from Tirana

«Riesling» from Durres;

Besides, a high-quality cognac titled «Skandenberg» which has received various international awards is made in Albania. Different fruit liquors are known as well. The best of them are «Fernet» herb liquor made in Korca and «Ouzo» anise liquor.

Besides local alcohol drinks you can buy imported beverages such as Macedonian wines, Greek liquor «Uzo», Austrian and Macedonian beer in any store in Albania. Local beer brands «Тirana», «Norga», «Kaon» and «Stela» also possess good taste and quality.

The favorite non-alcoholic beverages of the Albanians are Turkish coffee and espresso. By the way, coffee is really strong here, in fact it’s much stronger than in other European countries.

 

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Restaurants:

There is a mess of restaurants, cafes and bars in Albania notable for gorgeous cuisine and really low prices for a European country.

Tirana.

«Metropolitan» is a restaurant with a terrace at the five-star «Sheraton» hotel. This modern delicate-taste restaurant offers you dishes if international cuisine with elements of Mediterranean cuisine and some Albanian touch for breakfast, dinner or supper. All dishes served here are made of fresh high-quality foodstuffs and are always elegantly decorated.

Berat.

A restaurant at the Mangalemi» hotel developed its flawless reputation for serving the best traditional dishes of Albanian cuisine.

It is situated in the heart of the town near the bridge over Osum river and the fact that more than 100 visitors can be seated here makes it the perfect choice for various events. This restaurant is famous for its decent wine card and miraculous cooking traditional Albanian dishes.

 

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Durres.

The Italian restaurants of this town even make Italians realize that Albania is the only place where you can enjoy real Italian cuisine. Besides that you can taste motley dishes of marine cuisine, and Greek, Turkish and national Albanian dishes will surprise any exact foodie. The best Albanian wine factory is placed in Durres, and «Shesh» and «Zi» (red wines) and «Riesling» (white wine) are made here.

We strongly recommend that you visit a tree-star Italian restaurant «Villa Belvedre» with jaunty aristocratic atmosphere. If you want the real taste of traditional Albanian dishes, you can get it at the «Yuli Detit» restaurant.

Vlora.

The «Kuzum Baba» restaurant is the pride of Vlora. This place is situated at the highest point of the town so you can enjoy stunning land view. Tall palms, breezy sea air, high-class service, lovely cuisine and best wine brands will make remember a night in this restaurant for the rest of your life. Besides delicious sea foods you can have a local delicacy – fine grilled ram meat and sheep yogurt.

Pogradec.

This town is really attractive for foodies. Nearness to the Orhid lake assures you of wealth of fresh fish dishes which are necessarily local wine brands and strong brandy named Rakia as an appetizer. Hotels and restaurants are placed along the lake beach, five kilometers away from Pogradec.

Saranda

The «Paradise» restaurant placed at the quay of Saranda and right near the water greets its visitors with «Welcome to Paradise!» sign. Sea foods, various salads and lots of local wines are served here.

Restaurant at the "Mario Royal Resort" hotel placed two kilometers away from Saranda encourages its visitors to try miscellaneous dishes of traditional Albanian cuisine. This place is popular both with locals and tourists.

 

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Restaurant prices.

Average price for a dish is about 2-3 euros, and dinner or supper for two in a restaurant with masterfully cooked meat dishes or fresh sea foods together with wine will cost you 15 or 20 Euros. A cup of makkiato – espresso topped with fluffy milk – is only 0.85 Euro or 1.8 Euro – that is in the best restaurant of Tirana.

For a meal and wine for two in a fish restaurant you will have to pay approximately 15 Euros and the serves are so big that most likely you won’t manage eating them up in which case you will be offered to have them wrapped so that you can take them out.

 


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