Albanian Mishavine among the ‘Slow Cheese’ Award Winners

Albanian Mishavine among the ‘Slow Cheese’ Award Winners

TIRANA, September 21

The Mishavine Cheese of Kelmendi and local couple Valter Dragu and Melinda Pepushaj are among the six winners of the 2021 Slow Cheese award. The 13th edition of the award, a Slow Food’s signature event, celebrates the passion and hard work of small-scale herders and producers who decide to stay in their remote areas and keep alive heritage and skills.
The Slow Cheese awardees do so by refusing the use of modern technologies while respecting nature and animal welfare. The artisan cheesemakers have a lot in common, they are considered guardians of knowledge and skills, who face many difficulties in the process especially remoteness, financial support, market access, etc.

Valter and Melinda decided to stay at their home village and continue the tradition of Mishavine cheese making. Valter inherited the tradition from his parents. The Mishavine cheese, widely unknown among Albanians, is a typical product of one of the remotest areas in the country. Produced by the communities living in Kelmendi Alps, the Mishavine cheese is a culinary treasure. The cheese has obtained a Geographical Indication (GI) sign. However, the continuity of this authentic gastronomic tradition depends on the communities that produce it. The Mishavine is not only about the final product. It includes the pasture lands on the slopes on the Trojan mountain where livestock graze, the transhumance tradition, the climate, the craftsmanship of the producers, the cheese-making process, and finally the remote mountain dining experience.

Read more: Albanian Products: The Mishavine Cheese of Kelmendi

Despite the tourism potential, the Kelmendi area has been highly affected by massive migration. The lack of sustainable tourism management models and policies is the reason why areas like Kelmend fail to meet the needs of local communities as well as respond to tourism demand. Support for small-scale producers like Valter, who also owns an accommodation facility would help promote sustainable practices that improve living standards by maintaining the balance between environmental protection, economic benefits, social justice, and cultural integrity.

The other winners of the award are from Italy, India to Italy, and France.

Curious about other Albanian products. Check the list of articles below:

Top Regional Albanian Products: Traditional Products by Region
Albanian Products – Overview
Albanian Products: Blueberries
Albanian Products: Varieties of Heirloom Tomatoes in Albania
Albanian Products: Konispoli Mandarins
Albanian Products: Chestnuts
Albanian Products: The Vorba of Gojan 
Top Regional Albanian Products: Traditional Products by Region
Things You Can Only Buy in Albania

Source/Photo Credit: VISnordAlb

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