Food adventures in Albania

This is friends-locked so as not to offend any casually surfing Albanians who pass this blog, in particular my extremely gracious hosts.

But really, while it was fascinating and stimulating and all the rest of it to go to a new country (my 43rd), my culinary experiences were pretty disastrous.

Friday lunch: Conference stand-up buffet. Weak plastic plates and plastic cutlery. Bits of chicken in anonymous green sauce, bits of salad. Hasty food while preparing my own panel presentation, first after lunch.

Friday dinner: as noted previously, we were late for the evening reception; our host was the foreign minister, who demanded to speak to me as soon as we arrived; by the time he’d finished with me all the snacks were gone. My colleagues found a nearby restaurant, nice decor, I ordered the Shish Kebab (spelt Shish Qebap) on the basis that at least I knew what it was. After a long wait, one lonely looking skewer with three bits of meat, and peppers and onions, arrived, again covered in an anonymous green sauce.

Saturday lunch: The hotel restaurant looked promising, but by the time I’d finished catching up on livejournal it was closing for the afternoon break. Research indicated that the one Chinese restaurant in town would still be serving. Knowing of course of Albania’s historic links with China, I thought this might be worth investigating. I ordered chicken with black bean sauce. No visible (or taste-able) black beans in the sauce, which, again, was slightly green. The chicken appeared to have been fried in rather gungy batter with garlic. The rice was dry and had clearly been reheated in the microwave.

Saturday dinner: A large group of us went to the first restaurant on the right of the boulevard going north across the river. A small starter plate of ham and cheese, and potato salad. I hate potato salad but eat the cheese and some of the ham (noting that, as with Bosnia, for what some people think is a Muslim country, there is no shortage of either pork or alcohol). Eventually the meat course arrives: one small sausage each. At least it is a) hot and b) not in a green sauce. There may well have been more food later but I had to leave at 2130 to get to bed in time for my 0500 flight.

I may well have just been unlucky. The Tirana City Guide (a generally useful and well-produced booklet and website), while admitting that the “restaurant scene is not quite that diversified”, suggests that there is better to be had, and in particular that I missed out big time by not going to the restaurant in my hotel. So I am forewarned for next time.

One thought on “Food adventures in Albania

  1. The problem with the dash—as you may have noticed!—is that it discourages truly efficient writing

    “Efficiency” being the only goal writers might have in mind, of course.

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