My Citizens! It disturbs your Sentimental Sovereign – the mighty and always compassionate TFD! – that the U.S. media has failed to properly cover the recent terrible earthquake in Albania, where at least 105 people were injured on Saturday when a 5.6-magnitude earthquake struck the country. You can read details here and can contribute to help the Albanian people here if you are so inclined and I hope that you are!
Albania is one of the poorest countries in Europe, but they are home to an ancient and proud people with a rustic cuisine not well known outside their borders. My hope is that with this post, I can help raise the world consciousness around what is happening there while also giving TFD Citizens a new taste sensation in the process!
Albanian cuisine is a representative of the cuisine of the Mediterranean. It is also an example of the Mediterranean diet based on the importance of olive oil, fruits, vegetables and fish.
The cooking traditions of the Albanian people are diverse in consequence of the environmental factors that are more importantly suitable for the cultivation of nearly all kinds of herbs, vegetables and fruits. Olive oil is the most ancient and commonly used vegetable fat in Albanian cooking, produced since antiquity throughout the country particularly along the coasts.
Hospitality is a fundamental custom of Albanian society and serving food is integral to the hosting of guests and visitors. It is not infrequent for visitors to be invited to eat and drink with locals. The medieval Albanian code of honor, called besa, resulted to look after guests and strangers as an act of recognition and gratitude.
Located in Southern Europe with a direct proximity to the Mediterranean Sea, the Albanian cuisine features a wide range of fresh fruits, growing naturally in the fertile Albanian soil and under the warm sun. In consideration of being an agricultural country, Albania is a significant fruit importer and exporter.
Besides citrus fruits, cherries, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are among the most cultivated fruits. A lot of Albanians keep various fruit trees in their yards across the fertile country’s territory. Fresh and dried fruits are eaten as snacks and desserts.
Fruits that are traditionally associated with Albanian cuisine include apple, grape, olive, orange, nectarine, blackberry, cherry, persimmon, pomegranate, figs, watermelon, avocado, lemon, peach, plum, strawberries, raspberry, mulberry and carnelian cherry.
A wide variety of vegetables are always used in Albanian cooking. Due to the different climate and soil conditions across Albania, cultivars of cabbages, turnips, beetroots, beans, potatoes, leeks and mushrooms can be found in a rich variety.
Dried or pickled vegetables are also processed, especially in drier or colder regions such as in the remote Albanian Alps, where fresh vegetables were hard to get out of season. Particularly used vegetables include onion, garlic, tomato, cucumber, carrot, pepper, spinach, lettuce, grape leaves, bean, eggplant and zucchini.
Herbs are very popular. A wide variety are readily available at supermarkets or local produce stands across the country. The proximity to the Mediterranean Sea and the ideal climatic conditions allows the cultivation of about 250 aromatic and medical plants. Albania is among the leading producers and exporter of herbs in the world.
Further, the country is a worldwide significant producer of oregano, thyme, sage, salvia, rosemary and yellow gentian. Most commonly used herbs and other seasonings in Albanian cooking include artichoke, basil, chili pepper, cinnamon, coriander, lavender, oregano, peppermint, rosemary, thyme, bay, vanilla, saffron.
Quite the healthy and varied cuisine indeed!
This particular dish is enjoyed throughout Albania, and whilst I have kept the basic recipe intact, I have made a few very optional tweaks as noted in the recipe text. I especially like using smoked salt in place of regular kosher salt, as it was originally prepared over a wood-burning stove or campfire by shepherds! Feel free to leave this or any other edits out to enjoy the original recipe.
This will be a delicious snack for you and yours any time of the day or night, my Citizens – and please, donate to help the Albanian people today! For a tasty Albanian dessert, try their delicious syrup-soaked cookies!
Battle on – the Generalissimo