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Food, Dining, & Drinks in Kosovo

Culinary 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.

Staple Foods

There are no true staple foods in Kosovo; various vegetables are found in most dishes though.

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

Dining Etiquette

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.

Drinks

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, but others, such as soft drinks and coffee are also accessible.

Although Kosovo's majority (ethnic Albanians) are Muslims, most citizens do drink alcohol. Although not exceedingly popular, raki is a popular distilled brandy (generally made from grapes) found throughout the peninsula and is a regional specialty. Wines are growing in popularity and hard liquors are also available, but beer dominates the 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.

This page was last updated: March, 2012