Oh the things I have eaten and am learning to eat! The first thing I learned about eating in Macedonia, is that it is done differently. First of all, there generally are not three meals a day. You eat a late breakfast and an early dinner. That works just fine for me. Breakfast around 9.30 and lunch/dinner at about 16.30. If you are hungry later in the day you can eat whatever was leftover from the previous two meals. This works well with my work schedule. Eat before I leave for work (my school day starts around 10.30) and eat a couple of hours after I come home (around 14.30). It gives the meal plenty of time to digest before I head for bed!
Now, what do we eat? Well it is a vegetable and carb heavy diet. However, i do get a little more meat here than I did at my last house. The vegetables tend to consist of raw cabbage, tomatoes and peppers. Peppers are done in many ways: fried, stuffed, minced, raw……and of course as ajvar (pronounced eye-var), the most delicious tangy pepper spread ever put on a piece of bread. That brings us to bread. I have never eaten so much bread in so many different forms in my life. All of it is made here at the house, as well! Every single day we have freshly made homemade bread! Sometimes it is just done as a loaf or as it was done today, as a coil of dough wound into a spiral and baked like that. Oh heavenly delight–and that was the extent of the meal–bukë! Then there is the beverage of choice–yogurt. Has taken me a while to adjust to drinking my yogurt but I now do it as the locals do. Another delicacy that I could eat until it comes out of my ears is dolma–stuffed grape leaves. Oh, goodness!
Dining out is an option rarely exercised by families. I have grabbed a burger or a sandwich when I’m out but my favorite item to order is a shopska salata. I’m figuring out what the substitute for the cheese will be in the states so I can feature it prominently in my meals. That salad is enough to make a meal by itself. Interestingly enough, a salad or two is usually put on the table and everyone just digs in and eats from the serving plate. So don’t surprised when a fork is stabbed into a salad that you thought was yours! Share and share alike!
There are many ethnic restaurants here in Skopje–Thai, Sushi, Mexican, Italian, Turkish etc. I have found my Italian restaurant of choice. Good cheap wine and a freshly made tortellini with a cream sauce made with gorgonzola and walnuts for under 300 denari. And no tip need be left! You just can’t eat better than that.
The market features so many fresh fruits and vegetables that it isn’t funny. I think the only thing I haven’t seen is artichokes and that is probably because I wasn’t looking for them. The mandarins I currently have in my room are delicious, juicy and seedless. So never any need to buy your produce at the store–just go to the пазар–or one the many small markets all over the city! The old пазар is the largest one in the Balkans. Just watch your purse/wallet and you will have a multi sensory experience and want to go back multiple times.