Of course, it turns out his friends were only temporarily absent. But by the time I find this out, he has offered me some of the food and I have speedily convinced him that he is the perfect candidate to make the Albanian meal for this project!
Though he has been living in Holland for the last ten years, he still has a strong dose of national pride and has plans to return to his country of birth when he graduates from law school. [Update: at the time of publishing this blog, he HAS graduated and IS back in Albania]
His brother Lulzim also studied law in Utrecht and is now minister of Foreign Affairs in Albania, a fact that makes Eri understandably proud. Googling him turns up photos with Condoleezza Rice, what a surprise!
Anyway, no offense to Lulzim, but Eri is obviously the handsome one, and proves to be an excellent cook as well.
The white bean soup he is making for the project takes about four hours to prepare, so while everything is simmering on the fire we actually have time to go out for a coffee. I know, normally it is not a good idea to leave something on the fire unattended for so long, but we survived to tell the tale.
Sadly, Eri later tells me the recipe is top secret, so normally you would need your own Albanian sources to find out how it is made.
But, after a bit of sniffing around online I discovered a list with Albanian soup recipes online that seems quite trustworthy. Strangely, though Eri assures me this soup is called groshe, they seem to think that is made from lentils. Whereas fasule would be white bean soup. If any Albanians are reading this, let me know what you think!
In general, cuisine from this relatively unknown country is quite similar to its neighbours' and you might even find tarator on your table (as seen in Meal 45 from Bulgaria). Many of the dishes can be compared to other "Balkan" cuisine and Turkish and Greek food.
One thing I am still curious about is a drink called Dukagjin made with grape juice, sugar and mustard!
(The original post about this meal is from February 08, 2008)