I’m now on my third week of staying in Tirana and whilst I have been blown away by the foods, I have yet to write almost anything about the cuisine of this fascinating country! It’s been a slow Friday, so here’s the Street Food Guy’s guide to Albanian cuisine.
Albania might have been one of the most closed countries on earth, but in Tirana, at least the red times are over, and it is now a bustling city filled to the rafters with cafes and bars, which amazingly are full at any time of the day. Seems that no one actually works in Tirana, but I digress – a bar article will come later.
Albania (in case you need a geography lesson) is located in the Mediterranean bordering Montenegro to the north Kosovo / Serbia, Macedonia, Greece, and is just a short ferry ride from Italy. These are some pretty good neighbors to have when it comes to cuisine!
Quite understandably Albanian cuisine (Kuzhina Shqiptare – I’m learning) is very indicative of the cuisine of the Mediterranean, or as the cool kids call it the new health fad of the Mediterranean diet. In fact, as my mate pointed out Albanian cuisine could end up a fad in itself, maybe I will start the fad.
As with the rest of the region, Albanian Cuisine is rich on olive oil. As well as olive oil, it has all the other fun things, potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, fish, amazing feta cheese, and meat, lots and lots of meat. If you are on the keto diet, Albania is a food haven, but you would not want to be a vegan in Albania.
Breakfast in Albania
Breakfast in Albania is the weakest of the meals to be fair, but the bread in Albania is awesome, and you will usually get bread, butter, cheese, yogurt, and even jam. And what do you drink with breakfast? Coffee, check, tea, check, and raki. That is right I said raki, it is not uncommon to have a shot with breakfast, much like in Serbia. Another drink that pops up in the morning is called Dhalie, and is very much an acquired taste! It is a drink made by mixing yogurt, with water, milk, and spices and is a little carbonated.
An Albanian Lunch
Lunch in Albania tends to bet the biggest meal of the day, something you will see when you go out at lunchtime literally everyone is in a cafe or bar. Unsurprisingly, a Greek salad is popular here and then usually people will have a main dish of slow cooked meat. Meat is not done raw in Albania. Drinking wine, coffee, Albanian beer or you guessed it raki…..
Dinner in Albania
Dinner in Albania, as mentioned is not as important as lunch, and there are no real differences between the lunch and dinner menu’s, but slightly smaller portions of the meat. As things have gone with me, I tend to go for something like sausages, and lamb chops. One thing I love with dinner in Albania is that when the meats come out they have a salt on the side of the dish, lemon juice, olive oil, and vinegar. These literally are a few of my favorite things. And for drinks? It seems like half the people in Tirana share a bottle of water with dinner, the other half is beer and raki raki raki!!!! Raki will get its own blog don’t worry.
Dessert in Albania
When Italy is your neighbor you are going to do well with dessert. You guessed it there is GOOD ice-cream in Albania, as well as pastries, and Baclava that have been borrowed from other friends around the region. One good traditional dessert in Albania is called Zupa, which consists of cookies, sponge cake and pastry cream, not bad.