• Bulgaria!

    Bulgaria: An old Turkish bridge. Go Now!

    Bulgaria
    The isolated mountains of Bulgaria hide cultural gems around every corner, including this old Turkish bridge in the Rhodopi Mountains. Explore Bulgaria!

  • Italy!

    Italy: Rome' historic buildings. Go Now!

    Italy
    Crumbling buildings in Rome (pictured) only add to the atmosphere in a country where old is redefined and western civilization begins. Explore Italy!

  • Portugal!

    Portugal: Palace of Pena. Go Now!

    Portugal
    Although next to the seas and made famous by trade, Portugal boasts dynamic landscapes and architecture, including the Palace of Pena (pictured) near the town of Sintra. Go to Portugal!

  • Denmark!

    Denmark: Landscape. Go Now!

    Denmark
    From cities like Copenhagen to islands, beaches, and vast fields (pictured), Denmark offers incredible history, architecture, scenery, and more. Begin Your Journey!

  • Czech Republic!

    Czech Republic: Astronomical Clock in Prague. Go Now!

    Czech Republic
    The Astronomical Clock in Prague (pictured) makes every tourist list, but the towns, including Cesky Krumlov, and the mountains offer a change of pace. Go Now!

  • Armenia!

    Armenia: Noravank Monastery. Go Now!

    Armenia
    With a unique language, foods, architecture, and identity, Armenia is a fascinating country and culture unlike no other in the world. Begin Your Journey!

Food, Dining, & Drinks in Macedonia

Culinary Influences

Macedonian Food - Tavce gravce
Tavce gravce

Macedonia has multiple native foods and, like neighboring Bulgaria, has remained fairly loyal to their historic culinary roots. The country has fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, and various meats. Beef, chicken, pork, lamb, and even fish from the lakes and rivers are easily accessible. The cattle are have been primarily used for dairy products, making this another essential element of Macedonian cuisine. Most of the country's traditional dishes still contain these native ingredients as ajvar, a red pepper sauce remains the national favorite.

The greatest outside influences on Macedonian cuisine have come from their immediate neighbors in the other Balkan people and the Greeks, although the Ottoman Turks also influenced the food, most notably in their dessert selection.

In the past few decades, the people have been experimenting with new cooking styles or preparation methods as soups and stews have become more popular and more experimental in nature. The international food craze has also arrived in Macedonia in full force and pizza and other foreign foods are now popular and easily accessible.

Staple Foods

Macedonia doesn't have any true staples, but vegetables are present in about every dish.

Regional Variations & Specialties

Ajvar: preserved sauce of red peppers, eggplant, garlic, chili and oil
Shopska: a salad of diced tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and cheese served at nearly every meal
Tavche Gravche: the national dish, boiled beans with onions, peppers, tomatoes, and spices cooked with oil and flour

Dining Etiquette

Macedonian Food - Breads
Breads

Dining in Macedonia is a pretty relaxed affair and like their neighbors in Bulgaria, the people here are fairly open and inviting so, although sill unlikely, getting invited into a local's home is more likely here than in most of Europe. If you do get this invitation, be sure to bring a thoughtful gift, but if you aren't very thoughtful, bring a bottle of wine (if your hosts are Christian; there is a substantial Muslim minority, many of whom don't drink alcohol).

Most dining rules in Macedonia are similar to Europe in that you should wait to be shown a seat, you should let your elders begin eating first, and you must eat in the continental style (knife in the right hand, fork in the left). However, the people aren't going to judge you on these things and tend to be fairly informal. They also tend to keep their napkins on the table at all times, only using it to dab their mouths when needed.

When actually eating, be sure to take small portions at first as your hosts will take it as a compliment if you take more food later. It's also important to note the religion of your company as many Muslims won't eat pork nor will they consume alcohol. If this is the case, it would be wise to follow their lead. If they do drink though, your glass will be continuously refilled, so if you don't want more wine, leave your glass at least half full. If you're served rakija or mastika, the local alcoholic specialties, drink slowly as they are stronger than they taste, although these are generally only served once to begin the meal.

Tipping in Macedonia is primarily at your discretion. At nicer restaurants you should tip 10-15% of the bill, while at local establishments tips may not be expected at all. Be sure to check if there is a service charge included before tipping, as if there is, there is no need to tip beyond this.

Drinks

After being under Turkish rule for so long, the Macedonians gratefully adopted Turkish-styled coffee and it has become an excuse to meet for any occasion or event. More recently other coffee drinks have taken a larger market share such as cappuccino and latte. In addition to these drinks, are all the other popular international drinks such as tea, soft drinks, juices, and milk.

The most authentic local alcoholic drinks are rakija and mastika, which are distilled liquors, generally made from grapes or plums. Wine is also making a significant impact on the market as numerous wines are produced every year, one of the most popular local varietals being vranec, but merlot and other well-known grapes are also used. In addition to these beverages, international wines, beers, and hard liquors are also available.

There is no consensus on the cleanliness of the tap water in Macedonia. Generally speaking, the tap water is safe to drink, particularly in big cities, but in some areas the water quality is poorer, perhaps even unsafe, so should be avoided. The best course of action is to check with locals for the cleanliness of the local water or be extra cautious and avoid the tap water entirely. If you do decide to drink the tap water, remember that many people may have troubles adjusting to the local water, as it will most certainly be different from what your system is used to.

This page was last updated: March, 2013