My 5-Day Food Diary

Last week, I decided to keep a 5-day food diary to give you an idea of what it is like to live and eat in Kosovo.

(Note: At times, I am posting old photos or photos from other sites. I didn’t want to weird out my host mother by taking pictures of the meals she cooked.)

Also, I didn’t include snacks. I eat chocolate. A lot of it.

Monday

Breakfast: banana + a cup of coffee

Lunch: 2 speca (peppers), two small tomatoes with salt, a big hunk of homemade cheese, several glasses of milk

Dinner: A bowl of pasule (traditional bean stew here in Kosovo) with white bread and one glass of milk

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Pasule (Photo Credit: Albania Adventure)

Tuesday

Breakfast: banana +ย  a cup of coffee

Lunch: Two pieces of reheated dough filled with egg (leftover from Sunday breakfast) and two glasses of milk

Dinner: Two fried eggs, a hunk of homemade cheese, and several glasses of milk

Kosovo food 2
Lunch: Reheated dough and egg

Wednesday

Breakfast: a cup of dry Cheerios + a cup of coffee

Lunch: one speca (pepper), one bowl of leftover pasule, 2 glasses of milk

Dinner: one bowl of leftover pasule, 1 glass of milk

Thursday

Breakfast: a cup of dry Cheerios +ย  a cup of coffee

Lunch: I was in Pristina to work, which means I got to have a treat! I had a falafel sandwich from one of my favorite restaurants, Babaganoush. HEAVEN.

Dinner: Flia (traditional Kosovo food that’s just layers of dough cooked over an open flame)

Babaganoush Pristina Kosovo
Lunch at Babaganough. YUM!

#food #Kosovo #flia

A post shared by April Gardner (@hellofromkosovo) on

Friday

Breakfast:ย a cup of dry Cheerios +ย  a cup of coffee

Lunch: 1-1/2 (cold) fried eggs (ugh, couldn’t finish them), ยฝ of a tomato with salt, a piece of cheese, a piece of leftover flia, and a glass of milk

Dinner: penne pasta mixed with cheese and a glass of milk

Kosovo food 1
Lunch

Eating a healthy diet is something with which I struggle in Kosovo. I live on a mini-farm. All the produce and meat I eat is organic, so you think it would be healthy, right? Some problems are:

  • Kosovars consume a HUGE amount of white bread.
  • Food is prepared with a lot of oil. If I were going to scramble an egg at home, for example, I would use a tablespoon of olive oil. When my host mother makes eggs, she dumps about 1/3 of the bottle into the pan. (I am not exaggerating.)
  • Americans eat a lot of sugar, yours truly included. But the amount of sugar Iโ€™ve seen Kosovars consume is staggering. If you can out-sugar an American, you are eating way too much sugar.
  • I am not vegetarian, but I try to avoid meat as much as I can in Kosovo. I don’t like the way it is prepared. It manages to be stringy, overcooked, and greasy all at the same time.
  • I think of a “meal” as being protein + starch + vegetable, but I don’t consistently get all three.

I hate having so little control over what I eat and when I eat. But cooking for myself would be difficult because:

  • There is no grocery store in my village.
  • Meals are the only time I really spend with my host family.
  • I think my host mother would be offended if I stopped eating her food.
  • I am not allowed to use the electric stove (too expensive), the gas stove is broken, and I don’t know how to cook on a wood stove.

Grocery shopping and cooking have always been two chores I’ve hated. Now, however, I am looking forward to that day in the future when I finally live alone again (!!!) and can prepare a meal for myself. I’m gonna put Jose Gonzalez on the stereo, pour myself a glass of white wine, and weep for joy as I cook.

Cathedral of Saint Mother Teresa in Pristina, Kosovo

During my first visit to Pristina, my language training group got to go to the top of Cathedral of Saint Mother Teresa to enjoy a great view of the city. The cathedral was under construction at the time. Now, it is finished. I visited again with some friends to see the new interior.

wall cathedral of saint mother teresa
Rainbows and stained glass
door cathedral of saint mother teresa
I love this door.
stained glass cathedral of saint mother teresa
The church has several panels depicting Mother Teresa’s life.
pristina kosovo church 2
Eagle pew
pristina kosovo church 12
Mother Teresa
pristina kosovo church 8
Stained glass + beams
pristina kosovo church 14
Ceiling
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Pretty stained glass

According to the CIA World Factbook, 2.2% of Kosovars are Roman Catholic. The country is primarily Islamic (95.6%).

I live in a Catholic village. You can see photos I took of my local church here.

KETNET Presentation on Po-e-Zรซ

On Saturday, my friend Val and I presented at Kosovo’s 7th annual KETNET conference. KETNET stands for Kosova English Teachers’ Network (their website is here).

kosovo ketnet teacher conference.jpg

I am helping Val organize Po-e-Zรซ, a national English language poetry recitation competition. The competition started in Albania. Val and another Peace Corps volunteer brought it to Kosovo last year. My students participated, which I wrote about in this post.

Our goal in presenting at KETNET was to spread the word and get more local teachers involved in the competition, even if they don’t have a Peace Corps volunteer at their school.

After our presentation, a student who competed last year gave a speech on what competing meant to her. Then, she recited her poem.

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Getting ready to present …

This is one of the bigger secondary projects in which I’ve been involved. I am looking forward to working with my students on memorizing their poems, hosting a local competition, and then organizing the national competition in Pristina in December.

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Coffee afterward

Related post:

Hello! by Alba Arifi (a poem by a Kosovar high school student)

 

A Dog With Many Names

Before moving to Kosovo, I had never heard of the following type of dog (it has many names):ย Sarplaninac, Shar Mountain Dog, Illyrian Sheepdog, Yugoslavian Shepherd Dog. All of those names describe one basic breed of dog, which is common in Kosovo and looks like this:

 

Clearly, this is a dog that displays maximum fluffitude, but do not be fooled — they are bred to protect sheep from wolves.

Though I have never seen an actual working dog (as in, up in the mountains, herding sheep), many of the street dogs in Kosovo look like they’re part Illyrian Sheepdog (my preferred name for them). Here is a picture of a stray dog I took in Peja (he was just sleeping, not dead):

sleeping shar mountain dog
zzzzzzzz …

I don’t know why there are so many names for this breed. They are beautiful animals, though. I am not the first Peace Corps volunteer to become fascinated by them (and we all know I’m a cat person). I may have to find a puppy and bring it home to my dad once I am done with my service. ๐Ÿ™‚ (Dad, you have been warned … )

If you would like to learn more about Illyrian Sheepdogs, you can click this link.

Friday Gratitude: September So Far

This week, I’ve been settling a bit more into my schedule. I’ve been struggling with feelings of not wanting to be here. My summer funk has not gone away yet. Add to this we had a huge storm this week which knocked out our power for 12 hours. The powder has been cutting out since then. Ugh. We had a lot of outages this time last year, too. 

My host family’s dog is pregnant with her third litter since I’ve lived here. (Do I have an opinion about this? You bet I do.) She has been barking even more than normal. I try to have patience with this poor creature, but having been awakened in the middle of the night more often than not, my patience is wearing thin.

Ugh. In a week, we have our Peace Corps mid-service training, and I am really hoping it helps me re-energize and re-focus. Anyway …

Last Friday night, I attend Hardh Fest. (Hardh is the Shqip [Albanian] word for “vine.”) I got to visit Rahovec for the first time, which is Kosovo’s wine country (I’d previously mentioned it in this post). It was beautiful. I wish I had taken some pictures from the bus window in the daylight.

Here is a picture of Stone Castle, probably the biggest/most well-known wine producer in Kosovo.

stone castle winery rahovec kosovo
Looks like Medieval Times …
Two local bands played at the fest that evening. I thought this violin player was incredible:

Media Consumption this week:

  • I read The Power of Now, twice. I have so much to say about it that I might write a separate post. I haven’t decided yet. But I will say, this book provided answers to spiritual questions I’ve had all my life. It has started to change the way I live daily. (I know you’re thinking, “She complained at the beginning of this post.” But truthfully, the teachings in this book have been helping me cope.)
  • A friend here and a friend at home both recommended Broadchurch, which I binge-watched in two days. It is about the murder of an 11-year-old boy in a British beach town. It was awesome, except I thought the murderer was totally implausible! Has anyone else watched this/care to weigh in?
  • I watched The Big Sick, which was equal parts funny/cute/sad. It is set in Chicago, which means I felt homesickness stabbing at me throughout the time I was watching. Fun fact: I know several people who are friends with comedienne/actress Aidy Bryant. Go ahead, be impressed with the cool. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Happy weekend. Thanks for listening, as always. Talk to you on Monday.

Friday Gratitude: Anibar Animation Festival

August 14-20 was the best week I’ve had in Kosovo. HANDS DOWN! I volunteered at the Anibar Animation Festival in Peja, Kosovo.

The Anibar Animation Festival began eight years ago. It was founded by my friend’s counterpart, when he was only 17. (What was I doing at age 17? Certainly not founding international film festivals.)

My friend had asked me if I would be the festival’s Jury Coordinator. I told him I would think about it. The next thing I knew, I was having a meeting with his counterpart, where we discussed my role as the Jury Coordinator. I walked out of the meeting thinking, “Wait! Did I ever …ย agreeย … to be the Jury Coordinator?”

Anibar Film Festival Peja Kosovo 1.jpg
It was the end of the week, and we were still smiling …

I’m not going to lie, I was dreading the whole thing. I pictured a bunch of high-powered Hollywood types who would call me in the middle of the night to make strange demands. Turns out, I was wrong to be so worried.

The jury was comprised of five lovely people who came from Spain, Switzerland, Poland, the Netherlands, and the United States.

2017 Jury Anibar Peja Kosovo.JPG

I met many new people from all over the world. At one point, I was at lunch, and all four of us spoke different native languages (French, Chinese, English, and Albanian). I love that my native language is the one used to facilitate communication between people who speak other languages.

I also saw many films. The festival had two theaters, plus two screens they set up in a local park.

Anibar Animation Festival

Anibar Peja Kosovo

I loved some films, and hated others. Below are two of my favorite films shorts that were shown at the festival. (Warning: Don’t watch these if your boss or your kids are in the room!)

Volunteering at the Anibar Animation Festival also meant I got to spend time in Peja, which is my favorite city in Kosovo. I mean, would you look at this view?

Peja Kosovo.JPG

Even the weather cooperated, by backing away from the 100-degree mark.

I miss the little routine I developed every morning, where I bought iced coffee (!!!) and went to the Anibar theater to hang out with my friends (and the newly rescued theater kitten) before the start of the festival’s daily activities.

theater kitten.JPG

It was a week full of friends, film screenings, workshops, talks, a gallery opening, and free food and drinks.

Puppet Anibar.JPG

The pouring rain on the night of the closing ceremony forced people to abandon the after-party at the park and stay at the theater. Group karaoke broke out across the theater’s stage and balcony. The night ended with a group of people dancing in the flooded streets of Peja.

Yeah, it was my best week in Kosovo …

Anibar
Thanks to Todd and Stephanee for this pic. ๐Ÿ™‚