TIRANA, April 17
Stuck at home: Take a look at your fridge, or pantry. How much of what you buy and consume is Albanian? The COVID-19 lockdown might be the best opportunity to evaluate your lifestyle and how your choices can help the environment, local businesses, Albanian producers and farmers.
First, cultivate some zero waste habits in the kitchen
Make your stock/broth with vegetable scraps. Make spoon sweets, marmalade, and bitter orange peel spoon sweet or anything you like and that’s in season. Buy all produce from local farmers.
Buy Albanian olive oil, honey, wine. We all have that trusted friend/relative who knows a reliable person somewhere on the Ionian coast or Bjeshke that makes delicious olive oil or honey.
If you have a grandmother, but not her recipe book, something’s wrong. If you don’t keep her recipes, you’ll find yourself going restaurant after restaurant seeking that unique grandma food taste, and you won’t find anywhere.
Indulge in local cuisine. Dibra makes Jufka, why can’t you make your tagliatelle, pappardelle, ravioli, tortellini, and gnocchi?
Have a Sunday trahana family breakfast.
Create your zahire pantry, cherry compote from Peshkopia, cured meat from Pogradec, rosnica, and trahana from Lunxheria, spoon sweets from Permet, spices, and herbs from all over the country, etc.
If you can’t mill your flour, look for a local supplier. For example, Mullixhiu in Tirana mills different types of flour and it tastes heavenly.
Everything that grows has roots
Food has incredible influences on thoughts, moods, sleep, wishes and maybe people’s future.
The Albanian food and his childhood in Xhepcisht, Tetovo are at roots of Rene Rexhepi and his Noma. Think about it.
The country lifestyle gained popularity in Albania during recent years. Think about your roots and take the time to reconnect with the countryside when the coronavirus is over.
Why is important to buy local food?
When you go to the market to buy fruit and vegetable what do you consider more? The price? Is that apple a good looking apple, does it look fresh? Does it taste as good as the apples from your childhood? Did it cross the ocean to come to your market or is it a local product?
Buying local food is important for many reasons. First, it has a local impact. When consumers choose locally sourced products over imported ones they make it possible that money stays within their own or another local community. A locally sourced product is fresh because it doesn’t travel long distances. Albania is a small country and freshly picked fruit or vegetables can be transported within 24 hours from south to north. For example, the distance between Konispol and Vermosh 469 km. Short transport distances mean that the product is riper and tastier. In terms of lifestyle choices, this helps you reduce your carbon footprint as your favorite products come from a nearby area.
Another fact is that those transport wood pallets that are commonly used for crafting projects in bars, restaurants, and even homes are treated in chemicals to prevent the spread of invasive insects and plant diseases from one country to another. Even though the product has been transported in the best possible conditions, such details have an impact on some people.
If you want to find farmers that don’t use pesticides, look for producers or areas that also make honey. Beekeeping is not an easy hobby, and those farmers who are also beekeepers avoid the use of pesticides. They tend to have a more sustainable approach to organic agriculture and rural development.
Another big plus is that local products are seasonal. Albanians of a certain age remember the time when apples were available in the market only during their season. Nowadays, better storing techniques make possible to have apples all year round. However, cherries, green plumes, persimmons, mulberries, and chestnuts keep us in touch with the seasons. It’s important to mentions that seasonal products are abundant and less expensive. One rarely sees cherries in Albanian markets during winter. They are too expensive and most people can’t afford them.
Below is a list of local food festivals organized all over Albania.
Strawberry Festival, Fier
Mussels Festival Saranda-Ksamil
Barley Festival in Pojan Fier
Turkey festival, Cakran Fier
Fergesa festival Tirana
Vera n’Shesh, a Wine festival in Shesh Village, Ndroq
Tomato Festival, Shengjergj
The Olive Oil Festival in Tirana
The Ice Cream Festival in Durres
Grape harvest festival in Topana Hills
The Pie (Lakrori) festival in Korca
The Beer Festival in Korca
Grappa Festival in Boboshtica
The Apple Festival in Korca
Korani fish Festival in Pogradec
The Sweets Festival in Maliq
Qifqi Festival in Gjirokastra
The Wine Festival in Permet
The Olive Festival in Vlora
The Eel Festival in Narta Lagoon
The Honey Festival in Dhermi
Manderina Festival in Konispol
The Chestnut Festival in Rec
Puka Beer festival in Puka
Boza Festival in Kukes
The Pasterma (cured meat) festival in Lekbibaj
The Chestnut Day in Bajrram Curri
The Grappa Festival in Skrapar
The Walnuts Festival in Skrapar
The Cherry Festival in Dibra
The Watermelon Festival in Divjaka
The Eel festival in Karavasta
The Olive Festival in Roskovec
The Grape feast in Shijak
The Feast of Honey in Librazhd
The Potato Festival in Librazhd
The Oregano festival in Cerrik
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Photo credit: Teater Kame