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Food, Dining, & Drinks
The most important thing to note when dining in Kosovo
is the ethnicity of your hosts. Generally speaking, the ethnic Serbs and the ethnic
Albanians use similar table manners, but the conversation
can be vastly different based on your host's ethnicity so be sure to note this
before saying something offensive.
On the dining front itself though, rules are similar to the rest of
Europe: wait to be shown a seat, take your host's lead on when to begin,
and eat in the continental style (knife in the right hand, fork in the left). Your
local hosts may offer you an alcoholic beverage of raki, which would be
rude to turn down; remember though that it can be quite strong, so sip carefully.
At sit down restaurants with a server, a tip of about 10% is expected.
History & Influences
Kosovo's menu is based on the seasons as heavy dishes
are more common in winter than in summer and in the summer the ripe fruits and vegetables
tend to dominate the cuisine. However, meat has historically been expensive so most
dishes are based on beans, peppers, and dairy products no matter the season. Also
staying true to their historic roots, most food today is still prepared in traditional
fashion, primarily by roasting it.
Over time, many of Kosovo's neighbors influenced them
including the Turks, Serbs,
Greeks, and Italians among others.
Even today many Turkish desserts are consumed as is pasta along with Greek herbs
and olive oil. Perhaps the most lasting and noticeable influence the Turks had was
that many people converted to Islam, which forbids the consumption of pork products.
Another relatively recent addition to the menu is the potato, which is now commonly
consumed in the country. Since that introduction, meat has also become more readily
available and for less money, meaning meat has become more popular and has been
incorporated into many traditional dishes.
There are no true staple foods in Kosovo; various vegetables are found in most dishes
Regional Variations & Specialties
Flija: thinly layered pastries baked and generally served with
cheese, yogurt, or honey
Hajvar: preserved red peppers with oil and salt
Pasterma: dried beef with pickled vegetables
Tea is very common in Kosovo and it is generally served
as the Russians serve it: in two separate containers,
one with hot water and one with strong pre-made tea at room temperature. Lemonade
and mineral water, generally carbonated are also very common drinks in Kosovo.
Although Kosovo's majority (ethnic
Albanians) are Muslims, the minority of Serbs
and even many Albanians do drink alcohol. Although not exceedingly popular, raki
is a popular distilled brandy (generally made from grapes) found throughout the
peninsula and a local specialty. Wines are growing in popularity as well, although
beer dominates the alcohol market in Kosovo.
Generally speaking, the tap water is safe to drink in Kosovo,
but check with locals for any particular regional differences. Also, many people
may have troubles adjusting to the local tap water, as it will most certainly be
different from what your system is used to.
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