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.
About Albanian Cuisine
The Albanian cuisine (Albanian: Kuzhina Shqiptare — Albanian pronunciation: [kuˈʒi:na ʃcipˈta:rɛ]) is a representative of the Mediterranean cuisine. 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 suitable for the cultivation of nearly all kinds of herbs, vegetables and fruits. Produced since antiquity throughout the country particularly along the coasts, olive oil is the most ancient and commonly used vegetable fat in Albanian cooking.
Albanian cuisine can be divided into three major regional cuisines.
The cuisine of the northern region has a rural, coastal and mountainous origin. Meat, fish and vegetables are central to the cuisine of the northern region. The people there use many kinds of ingredients, which usually grow in the region including potatoes, carrots, mazes, beans, cabbages but also cherries, walnuts and almonds. Onions and garlics are as well important components to the local cuisine and added to almost every dishes.
The cuisine of the central region is threefold of rural, mountainous and coastal. The central region is the flattest and rich in vegetation and biodiversity as well as culinary specialties. It has Mediterranean characteristics due to its location to the sea, which is rich in fish. Dishes here include of several meat specialties and desserts of all kinds.
In the south, the cuisine is composed of two components, namely the rural products of the field including dairy products, citrus fruits and olive oil and the other coastal, which is seafood. Those regions are particularly conducive to raising animals as pastures and feed resources are abundant.
Belsh Traditional Cooking represents the cuisine of the central regions of Albania. Its meals are rich in vegetation, fish, and meat with a specialty in culinary experiences. The region is stunned in olive cultivation, wine grapes, and vegetables that make Belsh’s food to taste fresh and organic. Also, known for its lakes, the fish that grows in Belsh is served as the specialty of the region. There are places where you can find wild greens served in a bowl dipped in olive oil with goat cheese add on. Additionally, early in the morning, there are a lot of places that bake pies (like burek with spinach) filled with different ingredient and herbs ready to be served hot and freshly made.
Besides garlics, onions are arguably the country’s most widely used ingredient. In consideration to that, Albania is ranked 2nd in the world in terms of onion consumption per capita. Onions grow widely in Belsh area.
Furthermore, the strategic location of Albania in the western Balkan Peninsula with a direct proximity to the Mediterranean Sea has a large influence on Albanian cuisine. Many foods that are common in the Mediterranean Basin, such as olives, wheat, chickpeas, dairy products, fish, fruits and vegetables, are prominent in the Belsh cooking tradition. Across the region’s territory, there are a wide range of microclimates due to differing soil types and topography that allow a variety of products to be grown. Citrus fruits, such as oranges and lemons, and figs and olives thrive in the region.
Every region has its own typical breakfast. Breakfast often consists of a light meal. Fresh bread is frequently eaten and served with butter, cheese, jam and yogurt, accompanied with olives, coffee, milk, tea or raki. Burek and other filled pies are the most common eaten by people in the morning. It is also common to have only fruit or slice of bread and a cup of coffee or tea for breakfast. Coffee and tea are enjoyed both in homes and at the many cafés that feature in towns and cities throughout the country. Belsh Traditional Cooking
Lunch is traditionally the biggest meal of the day for Albanians, so happens in Belsh too. Everyone in Albania enjoys this lunch break, from school children to shop workers and government officials. Traditionally, people go back to their houses to have lunch with their families, but it is now common to have lunch with groups of friends at restaurants or cafeterias. Lunch sometimes consists of gjellë, a main dish of slowly cooked meat with various vegetables, accompanied by a salad of fresh vegetables, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, onions and olives. Salads are typically served with meat dishes and are dressed with salt, virgin olive oil, white vinegar or lemon juice. Grilled or fried vegetables and sausages and various forms of omelets are also eaten during lunch, accompanied by coffee, tea, fruit juices and milk.
Dinner in Albania is a smaller meal, often consisting only of a variety of breads, meat, fresh fish or seafood, cheese, eggs and various kind of vegetables, similar to breakfast, or possibly sandwiches. Sometimes dinner is used as the moment when people sit together to celebrate occasionally. At this times the dinner gets somehow heavy in meat and grilled vegetables accompanied by wine and the traditional raki. Belsh Traditional Cooking