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Albanian Cuisine

The cuisine of Albania has been influenced by many different cultures.

The cuisine of Albania, as with most Mediterranean and Balkan nations, has been strongly influenced by its long history. The occupations by Greece, Italy, and the Ottoman Turks have left its mark on Albanian cuisine.

Milk from goats and ewes is made into kos and many varieties of cheeses. Oranges, lemons, and figs are the main available fruits; some grapes and wild berries are made into fermented beverages. Mixed garden vegetables are used seasonally and are available. These include cucumbers, onions, peppers, eggplants, zucchini, marrows, okra, squash (kungull), potatoes, and tomatoes.

With the establishment of canneries, there has been a gradual increase in the consumption of canned fruits and vegetables in Albanian cuisine. The favored meats are lamb and mutton, and sometimes chicken. Liver is considered a delicacy Albanian food. Meats are usually prepared in types of stews, as pilafs with rice, or skewered and roasted over open fires.

There is also a variety of nuts grown locally: walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, and hazelnuts. These nuts are eaten as is or crushed (sometimes with garlic), and made as sauces over meats and/or vegetables. The most successful crops of the Albanian farmer have for centuries been grains. Predominantly corn, but also wheat, rye, oats, and barley are harvested. These grains have been used to produce a variety of flours for pieces of bread that are consumed mainly in coastal areas and cities. But the main type of bread—indeed the main food—is a flat pancake-shaped cornbread broken into pieces and enjoyed with kos or cheese.

Olive oil is used everywhere for cooking. Sweet and rich desserts are enjoyed which are made with nuts and syrupy sauces. The combination of thin, crisp pastries (identical to the Greek phyllo) with nuts, sugar or honey, "new" cinnamon, and cloves, and finished with a heavy syrup or very sweet puddings, are as beloved by the Albanians as they are by the Turks and Greeks.

People who favor very sweet desserts will almost certainly also enjoy highly seasoned Albanian food, and the Albanians are no exception. Generous portions of garlic and onions, tart touches of lemon juice or lemon grating, and the more subtle enhancement of dill and parsley, as well as cinnamon and cloves, waft through Albanian food. The combination of crushed or chopped nuts with garlic and oil, to be served with greens or chicken, as well as the combination of nuts and raisins, either for nibbling or as part of exotic sauces, are all typically Albanian food.

Lunch is the main meal and is usually accompanied by a salad of fresh vegetables, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, and olives dressed with olive oil, vinegar, and salt. Seafood specialties are common in the coastal areas of Durres, Vlore, and Sarande.

Some of their specialties are:

Fërgesë of Tirana is a dish made with veal, cottage or feta cheese, onions, and spices.

Fried meat patties made of lamb, beef, or chicken create Qofte Te Ferguara.

Tave Kosi is a dish made with baked lamb and yogurt sauce.

Byrek Shqiptar Me Perime is an Albanian vegetable pie with phyllo dough, spinach, feta cheese, and chopped green onions.

Tave Me Prech leek casserole baked with ground beef.

Turli Perimesh is a main dish made with mixed vegetables such as peppers, eggplant, okra, zucchini, potatoes with chopped onions, tomatoes, and parsley added.

Qafte Me Veze Dhe Limon includes ground lamb meatballs in an egg and lemon sauce.

Speca Te Mbushura is a dish made with stuffed peppers, with or without ground meat, rice, chopped dill, parsley, and tomato puree.

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Albanian Cuisine
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