When I first came to the Balkans to study I was living in Zagreb in a tiny Garsonniere and there weren’t many (well any) take out restaurants. Coming from NYC that was a massive culture shock and suddenly I had to learn to feed myself, with no oven and a simple frying pan. From that inauspicious beginning came an interest in cooking and cuisine-particularly in the Balkans- that has enriched my life.
As much as I like to cook and eat I don’t want to stand in front the cooker all day and like many of you I’m also busy and quite often want something quick and easy. But after years of living and working in the Balkans, and especially Kosovo, I’ve picked up a lot of useful recipes and techniques that are usually fairly quick and simple to make with local and seasonal ingredients.
You don’t need to be rich or a brilliant cook to eat well daily. In Kosovo, we are lucky to have access to good locally grown, fresh food, much of it organic for not too much money. You also don’t need to follow every food trend: whether it is drinking green juice or being a vegetarian or vegan or going gluten-free or the dreaded “clean eating”. Do what makes you feel best and enjoy it. Life is too short for so many rules. What I recommend is a diet of balance. Eat seasonally: meaning buy what’s in season now and as much as possible from local farmers here in Kosovo or in the region. Eating less meat is good for you and the environment. So try and go meatless one or two days a week. This isn’t really new but is the way people in the Balkans have eaten for generations. Luckily, we can add new products, ideas, flavors and tastes to what we eat now.
So this column will cover nutrition, recipes and food available here that I buy, eat and cook in Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia mostly. Please feel free to comment, suggest or criticize! Feedback is welcome here..