Thanksgiving Dinner & Kosovar Holiday Food

11.26.2009"


Before I begin speaking about the differences and similarities of the food served at Thanksgiving and during Kosovar Holidays in general, I have to admit of being fortunate to have two wonderful ladies, my mom and my American host-mom, who are extremely talented cooks. Just as everything, this has taken its toll on me, and as a result I find myself struggling to eat anywhere and everywhere because I have been used to quite high standards.


In general the Kosovar and American meals are very different in taste, smell, and looks. We usually do not have a certain holiday, like Thanksgiving, with the unique turkey dish, but rather regularly have a combination of different dishes. While there are no certain dominant dishes for any given holiday, the choices depend more on the individual preferences of family members. The general menu in my mom's family, with whom I usually spent the holidays in her hometown Peja, some 50 miles from Prishtina, where we live, begins with vegetable soup or with ""paca"" which is similar to soup, though much thicker, and more gravy like, served with white bread or baguettes. The following plate is comprised of white rice and spinach, which we call ""byrjan"" and chicken, prepared in the oven. This is usually served with plain white yogurt. By this time, already full, I pause a bit in order to proceed to the next plate. Two or three slices of one of the spinach, milk, and pumpkin pies, which we call ""pite"" are served afterwards. My aunts, my mom's sisters, are renown within the family for their sumptuous ""pitas"". The food feast concludes with desserts, more often ""Turkish baklava"" or some kind of specialty cake. All this has a very different taste from anything else in the U.S., most likely because of the spices, oils and additions used.


I find my host mom's Thanksgiving dinner very delicious, especially after not being able to eat a home cooked meal in a long time. One of the big differences I find in food back in my country and Dayton is the meat. In Kosova, turkey is very scarcely used, while the majority of the population, Albanians do not eat pork at all. So, turkey has been one of the new dishes that I was introduced to in my American host family. It does taste much differently from back home so it wasn't very difficult to get used to its taste. Other than the turkey, the table is usually filled with other different dishes, to most of which I still don't know the names, but I like the salads together with some sweet rolls that we always have for the Thanksgiving dinner. And, of course the bread! And, yes, we love our bread in Kosova.


I find different ethnic dishes always an interesting experience because they share a very unique intrinsic story about every culture and ethnicity. Although, I have a very picky food choice, I have learned first-hand that you have to be open in trying and observing other people's food and ways of eating because it speaks a lot about one's surroundings and influences. Our Kosovar dishes for example have been greatly influenced from the Ottoman 500 years presence all the way until early 20th century.


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