Mealtime Monday – It’s Almost Salad Season

salad gjirokastra albania

It’s almost salad season here in Canada, so I thought this week I’d do a throwback to a salad I ate in a slightly more temperate climate!  The day I went to Gjirokastra, Albania, it was about 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit).  It might have also been a Sunday, as pretty much every shop and business- along with the town’s information center- was closed.  One little restaurant seemed to be open, and the tiny, narrow room seemed to be packed with people trying to escape the scorching heat outside.  When a table in the darkest (and therefore coolest) recesses of the back corner finally opened I sneaked in and explained, much to the owners’ amusement, that I was a vegetarian.  They hummed and hawed for a few minutes before deciding that they could serve me this salad: a mix of juicy tomatoes, cool cucumbers, tangy onions, fresh lettuce and creamy, soft cheese.  It was pure heaven.  All across the Balkans I ate simply but deliciously, enjoying fresh, healthy ingredients that stood on their own, without elaborate preparation or seasoning.  I was worried that being a vegetarian in Albania would be difficult, but it actually turned out to be a pleasure.

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