Food Culture and Tradition

Food, People and Culture Resources

Albanian Food

Dairy Products

As already mentioned, milk from goats and ewes is made into kos and many varieties of cheeses. Fluid fresh milk and butter are seldom used. Kos is used alone or eaten with other foods.

Fruits and Vegetables

Oranges, lemons, and figs are the main available fruits; some grapes and wild berries are made into fermented beverages. Mixed garden vegetables are used seasonally and as available. These include: cucumbers, onions, peppers, eggplants, zucchini, marrows, okra, squash (kungull), potatoes, and tomatoes. With the establishment of canneries, there has been a gradual increase in the consumption of canned fruits and vegetables in the Albanian food.

Meats and Alternates

The favored meats in the Balkan area (where meat is used) are lamb and mutton and sometimes chicken. Liver is considered a delicacy Albanian food. Meats are usually prepared in types of stews or as pilafs with rice, or skewered and roasted over open fires. There is also a variety of nuts grown locally: walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, and hazelnuts. These may be used as nibbles, crushed (sometimes with garlic), and as sauces over meats and/or vegetables.

Breads and Grains

The most successful crops of the Albanian farmer have for centuries been grains. Predominantly corn, but also wheat, rye, oats, and barley are harvested. These grains have been used to produce a variety of flours for breads that are consumed mainly in coastal areas and cities. But the main type of bread – indeed the main food – is a flat pancake-shaped corn bread broken into pieces and enjoyed with kos or cheese.


Olive oil is the main type of fat used everywhere.

Sweets and Snacks

Albanians enjoy very sweet and rich desserts made with nuts and syrupy sauces. The combination of thin, crisp pastries (identical to the Greek phyllo) with nuts, sugar or honey, cinnamon, and cloves, and finished with a heavy syrup, or very sweet puddings, are as beloved by the Albanians as they are by the Turks and Greeks.


People who favor very sweet desserts will almost certainly also enjoy highly seasoned Albanian food, and the Albanians are no exception. Generous portions of garlic and onions, tart touches of lemon juice or lemon grating, and the more subtle enhancement of dill and parsley as well as cinnamon and cloves waft through Albanian food. The combination of crushed or chopped nuts with garlic and oil, to be served with greens or chicken, as well as the combination of nuts and raisins either for nibbling or as part of exotic sauces, are all typically Albanian food.


Cool soups made from pureed or chopped fruit or vegetables plus kos are often taken as cooling liquid refreshment. Small cups of mint and sugared tea, as well as tiny cups of Turkish coffee, often provide afternoon or hospitality refreshment. Sweet desserts and highly seasoned foods, as well as a difficult life, all seem to create a need for strong drink. Hardier local specialties include:

Dukagjin: a drink made from grape juice, sugar, and mustard.

Hardic: a drink made from wild berries.

Orme: an appetizer drink made from fermented cabbage, similar to the juice from sauerkraut.

Raki: a potent brandy, flavored from mulberries and served as an aperitif before meals or on special occasions.

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