5 Albanian Foods to Try

Albanian food is good, first of all. It’s heavy on meats and cheeses, but with Greek food alongside to balance things out. The nation Greece is just to the southeast, which explains the presence of giros as pretty much the only available “fast food”. (Hey, none of us are complaining!) This also means that Greek salads, God bless them, are on the menu wherever salads are sold.

A common lunch, pre-dinner first course, or side dish might consist of a plate of tomato, cucumbers, and djathe lope – a white cheese reminiscent of feta. And bread, of course – no Albanian meal is considered complete without bread! Sour cream is a universal handy sauce for everything. Baklava is commonly exchanged around Christmastime and New Year’s the way fruitcakes used to be in the west, and believe it or not, some foreigners get heartily sick of it! It’s homemade and of, uh, occasionally varying quality.

Below are a few more specific traditional dishes that I’ve had the privilege of trying in the months that I’ve been here.

Qofte -Sounds like CHOF-tuh. These fried meatballs are the national dish of Albania. Also popular in Kosovo, they were first introduced by the Turks and are the Balkan version of a dish popular throughout the Middle East. (According to Google, that is; ain’t learning great?) Sometimes they’re made into patties, like in the above image. They’re delicious, by the way. Shoutout to Arsi, my roommate’s sister, for making the lovely New Year’s Eve dinner pictured above.

Kernaçka – A kind of sausage or sometimes meatball unique to Korce, and a variant of qofte. Most times I have seen it ordered, it is served by itself as in the picture below, instead of mixed into other foods like I do when I try to cook them. Once time yours truly bought the raw frozen ones and accidentally undercooked them, leading to a speedily resolved case of food poisoning. Oh well, live and learn. They too are delicious.

Petulla – Fried dough balls, called pancakes but that seems like a bit of stretch. Served in the below picture with butter and honey, but can also be served with powdered sugar or with savory flavors like feta cheese. They’re good, but don’t go in expecting something as sweet as an actual pancake or donut or you’ll be disappointed. What can I say, I’m such a hopeless devotee of actual pancakes.

P.S. That’s the remnants of Turkish coffee in the picture, by the way. Goodness, I thought I was going to enjoy that a lot more than I did. “Brewed with sugar” – what could go wrong? Feeling like my teeth are covered with coffee ground sludge afterwards, that’s what could go wrong! No hate intended, but I think from now on I’ll stick to pouring sugar into espresso because it was served with sugar next to it, never mind accusations of how “weird” that sounds. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.

Fasule pllaqi (sounds like fah-SUE-lay – PLAH-chee) – These gigantic white beans are huger than any others I’ve seen in my life. At least twice as big. I don’t know what flavors or ingredients go into the little bit of sauce they’re cooked in, but they’re pretty tasty even if they are a bit bland. I don’t mind; I’m aways down for a nice little protein-rich side dish.

Patate e tzatziki – French fries in Albania are often ordered with a dish of tzatziki sauce to dip them in. Ergo, my life is complete. I always dive for them; that stuff never gets old. No picture to go with this, but then, none is needed. Instead, here’s a picture of chicken inexplicably but blessedly covered in French fries and shredded cheese.

Chicken is usually served whole as a sharing dish for the table. The practice of ordering a variety of dishes for the table is the same as in East Asia (China, Japan, Korea) and other collectivist cultures. Color me a fan.

Oh, before you go, our picturesque town of Korce is renowned in Albania for more than its traditional serenades and cool summer weather – the capital of Tirana actually has several restaurants that serve Korce’s specific cuisine! We’re kinda special like that. To brag for just a sec, we actually really like it here and wouldn’t trade it for any other town around these parts.

Published by gracexaris

Explorer, thinker, writer, teacher, woman.

6 thoughts on “5 Albanian Foods to Try

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: