On our culinary journey through the Balkans, we were visiting Albania. A country that left us surprised by the kindness and sympathy of its people, its beautiful beaches, its extraordinary mountains, panoramas and, as expected, its food.
A common language
Albania was our first contact with the Balkans, after spending a few days in Greece and I must admit I knew very little about this wonderful country. I was, however, positively surprised to find a country in the Balkans where Italian is spoken so well, a language with which I feel fully identified because my husband is precisely Italian. This was then the first barrier we broke when arriving in this country, hitherto unknown to us and it was precisely what made it easier for us to enter the chefs and their kitchens
In a first impression, the gastronomy in Albania seemed very similar to that of the rest of the countries in the Balkans, but the more we got into the day-to-day life of this beautiful and very particular country, the more we discovered its peculiarities. On the Adriatic coast, as expected, fishes and seafood are everywhere. The use of olive oil, olives, tomato, feta cheese and yogurt are also common in Albania.
Meat is widely consumed in the north of the country. You can find as well many recipes with beef although innumerable dishes with lamb are also served. As far as poultry are concerned, chicken, goose and turkey are commonly consumed. Its national dish, the Tave Kosi, is lamb meat and rice baked with a special sauce of yogurt and eggs, which can remind us of some Greek dishes.
In Albania we tried for the first time the Cepavi, a kind of spicy and elongated meatball that can be found across the Balkans and it is generally served with French fries. We also tried their version of Musaka (delicious!!!) and seafood in all its versions.
We were able to confirm the strong Turkish influence in the cuisine in Albania, which highlights the boreks, sucuks, sarmas. The Albanian gastronomy map, however, is also influenced by the cuisine of countries like Italy and Greece.
Vegetables and fresh fruits are common in the Albanian diet, thanks to weather permitting.