We bought fish last night–peshk–for dinner. Fish shops are fairly common in Tirana and since the coast is only a half hour away, the fish gets here fresh. At the fish shop, they had something that looked like skinny mackerel, some small red sorta squirrelfish-like fish that I couldn’t imagine how to cook, shrimp (karkalec), squid, some smelt-like fish, salmon and something that seemed a cross between a pinfish and a porgy. These last were decent size so I bought two for about 600 leke. Most things like fish and meat are in kilos (2.2 pounds to the kilo, I know now) so I really have to think about how much I’m ordering.
I filleted the porgies and had almost enough for the three of us. Shawna brought home some of those little hard toast things and I crushed them up for bread crumbs and mixed them with flour. She made a good effort at picking up cornmeal, too, but it’s a challenge when you’re not quite sure what words are used for certain things in the grocery store; the packaging is not always the same as one would expect in the States, either. I opened up the little box with the corn on the front and found that we had corn starch instead of corn meal. Useful for Chinese food and other things but not quite what I was hoping for.
“I imagine they didn’t have grits, either,” I said.
“Now, Sugar, grits is just down the aisle yonder,” she replied with a roll of her eyes.
If I were a restauranteur I’d work on introducing grits and fried fish to Albania.
I’ve been a little surprised that the fish isn’t cheaper here. It’s a little better than home but not that different in price, at least not so in Tirana. The porgies we bought were about $4/lb whole. That’s on the low end of what I would buy at home at Wards Seafood in Largo, but still close to US prices. It’s got to be tough for regular Albanians to buy fish. But maybe it’s not for the folks who regularly buy it. It’s much more of a deal in restaurants, either. Of course, if I came here from Kansas, I’d be thrilled just to see fresh fish (as are the tourists in Florida). I also haven’t seen trout in the seafood markets, only saltwater fish.
There are rivers and lakes here, though, so there must be trout somewhere. My American friend who lives here is game to go trying to fish for trout in lakes or streams so hopefully we can do that before too long. There’s a trout that’s supposed to be delicious, the Lake Ohrid Trout, but it’s been overfished and is a protected species. Other areas have been stocked with European trout and I’d be just as happy to catch those.