Let me tell you about two Balkan things I absolutely love to eat.
The first is called Ajvar and I think it is originally from Macedonia, but we can buy it here in Albania as well. It's basically used as a relish or a topping on sandwiches, much like bruschetta would be. But it's not made from tomatoes as I expected (it is red), but is a luscious combination of roasted red peppers and eggplant.It can be sweet or spicy depending on the peppers. I adore it on top of good wholemeal bread with a slice of cheese. It's divine. I remember as a young girl that at the end of summer the heady aroma of roasting peppers would waft throughout our neighbourhood in Toronto, however at the time I didn't know exactly what it was. Now I do. Without a doubt it was our Eastern European neighbours preparing the peppers for Ajvar. If I knew then what I know now I would have been begging at their door for a spoonful of this yummy treat. And the bonus is that it is low-fat and really low-cal! (Hurray!)
And the second thing I love is this-
BAKLAVA! Ohhhhhh my goodness.... this is like eating the food of the gods... layers and layers of phyllo pastry filled with walnuts or pistachios and then covered in thick sugary syrup. The photo above is of the tray of Baklava that my Albanian friend just dropped off for my birthday (which was 2 months ago!). She made it herself and has volunteered to teach me how to do it. I can't wait. The only problem is that now we have a HUGE tray of this enticing sweet and I am sure it must be worth 50,000 calories! Come and help me eat it!!
Wikipedia has an interesting list:
Baklava is found in many cuisines, with essentially the same name:
In Afghan cuisine.
In Albanian cuisine as bakllava.
In Armenian cuisine as փախլավա (pʼaḫlava).
In Assyrian cuisine.
In Azeri cuisine.
In Bosnian cuisine as baklava.
In Bulgarian cuisine as баклава (baklava).
In Egyptian cuisine as بقلاوة (baʼlēwa).
In Georgian cuisine as tapluna.
In Greek cuisine as μπακλαβάς. (mpaklavás or baklavás). This is also the most famous type in the United States.
In Iraqi cuisine.
In Israeli cuisine as בַּקְלָוָה or בקלוה (baqlava).
In Kurdish cuisine.
In Lebanese cuisine as بقلاوة (baʼlēwa).
In Levantine cuisine as بقلاوة (baʼlēwa).
In Macedonian cuisine.
In Montenegrin cuisine as baklava.
In Persian cuisine as باقلوا (baqlavā).
In Romanian cuisine as baclava.
In Serbian cuisine as баклава, baklava
In Syrian cuisine as بقلاوة (baʼlēwa).
In Turkish cuisine as baklava, Ottoman باقلوا. It is the most famous type, especially in Europe