Thursday, 24 February 2011
Sunday, 20 February 2011
To bring you all up to scratch on your Balkan history, here's the deal: Kosovo has been a disputed territory for hundreds of years, with a large ethnic Albanian population, a significant Serbian population, and other ethnic groups (Roma, Turks, Bosniaks). Up until the end of the war in 1999 Kosovo was a province of what we now call Serbia (but most recent incarnations have been as follows: Serbia, Serbia and Montenegro, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Yugoslavia, and The Kingdom of Slavs, Croats, and Slovenes.) From 10th June 1999 to 17th February 2008, Kosovo was under United Nations administration. On 17th February 2008, the Republic of Kosovo was declared as an independent nation. And so we get Independence Day!
We took a trip into Pristina to mark Independence Day with a prayer meeting at church. On the way to church we past this monument to independence, the NEWBORN structure. It's a great monument in my opinion, made particularly good by the grafitti which now covers it. I'm not sure if the plan was to allow the grafitti, but I think it adds something really special to an already very interesting structure. It makes it quite living, quite fluid, which I think is apt for a young nation finding its feet.
As is always appropriate, any birthday deserves a cake and so please check out the below. Yes, this is ALL cake. How to make me very happy! And that's Eileen's finger directing you all to Vushtrri, should anyone wish to visit.
Our Independence Day afternoon was spent, slightly randomly, at some Roman ruins. Now I bet most of you have visited some Roman ruins at some point, Lullingston Villa, Bath etc etc. I bet none of you have walked all over Roman ruins though. Well, you should visit Kosovo, where really no one is interested and you can do whatever you like with some ruins that you can find if you divert off the road and walk for about 5 minutes and there they are. As you do. And then you can walk and climb and clamber and fall off to your heart's content! And if you're really lucky you'll find a sarcophagus made of white marble:
Wednesday, 16 February 2011
A lot of the food here is based on dough and pastry, and the most popular dish is pita (say it like pitta, but more like peeta. Or something). Eileen's tried making it before and I'd watched the making process, but this was our first hands-on culinary lesson. And now I'm going to pass on my knowledge to you.
Step one: Get some flour. By "some" I means "lots":
Mix up the flour and some warm water until you get a nice dough. Knead.
Step 2: Roll the dough into a long roll and then cut bits off. Then shape them into balls. I tried this, it was trickier than it looked.
Step 4: The fun bit. To open the dough out into a bigger circle, throw it around in the air like when they make pizza. Check me out:
Step 5: Where the magic happens. Lay your dough on a low round table (a sofran) on a piece of cloth and then stretch it out so it's nice and big. Probably a metre in diametre. Don't put holes in it. Harder than it looks.
Step 7: Lift up either end of the cloth and let the dough roll in on itself, but don't let the two sides meet in the middle. You've ruined everything if you do that. Dramz.
Step 8: Separate the two rolls of dough and spiral them up. Place in dish. Repeat from step 4 until you've used up all the dough. Place dish in stove.
Step 10: EAT.
(I don't have any pictures of me eating it - which is probably just as well - but I did and it was GOOD).
So there you are, now you can all get out your sofrans and wood burning stoves and cook up an Albanian culinary feast! Let me know how you all get on....
Sunday, 13 February 2011
Sunday, 6 February 2011
In case you're wondering, you get used to the power going off a few times a day, usually for two - three hours. You work out how to plan around it, like boiling the kettle for hot water bottles and putting the heater on beside your bed in advance. Just to at least take the chill off the room....
So now you're caught up the on the wood/stove/tea situation. And I bet you all feel better for it.
Thursday, 3 February 2011
That's Eileen in the distance with one of the kids in the red chair next to her. Among Carol and Eileen's many talents is the creation of small things to sit on made out of cardboard, newspaper, flour and water - i.e. paper maiche. They are amazing!
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