Welcome to our latest video series, Rerouted: The Balkans, which sees social media influencer and YouTuber Eva zu Beck discover the cultures, customs and traditions of Eastern Europe. Eva takes us off-the-beaten-track on a road trip through Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Albania. We meet the wonderful Balkan people bringing a modern twist to ancient traditions and travel through pristine, untouched landscapes. You might not have planned to visit these countries before but one thing’s for sure - they’re about to become top of your travel bucket list.
In this week’s episode of Rerouted: The Balkans, vegetarian Eva lands in Tirana, capital city of Albania, to sample some of the country’s finest cuisine. After a false start with a boar’s head for breakfast, she joins local tour guide Nick who shows her a taste of the restaurants famous for their traditional menus.
What is the food like in Albania?
Traditional Albanian food is a blend of Mediterranean and Balkans dishes. These menus are characterised by their roots in mountainous landscapes and vibrant coastlines.
Perhaps one of the most famous recipes to come from this country is Ferges, a summer stew consisting of a rich tomato sauce, cottage cheese, peppers and garlic. According to the locals, this is best enjoyed cold and alongside freshly baked bread - hence its reputation as a summertime treat.
In fact, a lot of the food in Albania is naturally vegetarian. Speca te Mbushur me Oriz, or bell peppers stuffed with rice, and Albanian pies or ‘byrek’, are usually vegetable or cheese-based.
However when Albanians do cook meat, it’s fresh and tender. In this episode of Rerouted, Eva turns down the offer of boar’s head and a beer for breakfast, instead visiting a cafe on a quiet street in the capital which serves an array of veggie-based foods. Meat platters and sarme - cabbage rolls filled with meat and rice - are popular choices for the meat eaters.
When it comes to sweet treats, milk cake and baked crepes are two of the must-haves.
More generally, Albanian food is rooted in citrus fruits, fish and pastry. But really, food is a cultural staple to bring families and friends together.