Albania doesn't have any true staple foods, although
there is a meat and a vegetable in nearly every dish. Along the coasts fish is often
times substituted for the meats.
Regional Variations & Specialties
Pace Koke: sheep head soup
Kukurec: sheep organs in stomach casing
Tzatziki & rakia
Albanians enjoy their food, but they don't take it so
seriously that there is a whole list of rules associated with it. In fact, dining
is much like Albanian life, as time takes a back seat to conversation and the food
is meant to be enjoyed with good company.
The strictest dining rules come not in the eating process, but in the circumstances
surrounding the actual meal. It is good policy to bring a gift if dining in a local's
home and the best gifts are items from your home country or gifts for their children
(if they have any). As most Albanians are Muslim, don't give a gift of alcohol;
although most Albanian Muslims do consume alcohol; it is not wise to guess and be
incorrect. The second important thing to note is that if you're dining in a
restaurant with business partners, or even just locals you'll likely see that
there is an odd "payment structure" in that your host will most likely
insist on paying for the first meal, but the next time you meet you are expected
to reciprocate the favor.
Eating does have its rules as well. Generally speaking though, these are very standard
to the rest of Europe: let your host show you your seat, eat in the continental
style (knife in the right hand, fork in the left), etc. It is also likely that you
are offered raki, the local alcohol. Not trying this can be offensive so
do take a sip, but be careful as it can be deceivingly strong.