When we were at Kala Petrela, we ate something called tavë dheu, which was goat meat cooked in a casserole. It was excellent, so when I saw it on the menu this afternoon at the Oda Restaurant, which serves traditional Albanian cuisine, I ordered it. With the first bite, a conversation that I’d had during the Hash suddenly clicked: that word for goat is “dhiu”, not “dheu”, and that “dheu” refers to mud (e.g., a ceramic baking dish), and that the meat in a tavë dheu can be anything. Although the dish in Petrela was goat, today I was eating kidneys and liver of some unnamed animal in a sauce of soft cheese. And so I have been introduced to truly authentic Albanian cuisine.

Copyright infringement

I wanted to get something to eat before I went on the Hash on Saturday, so I stopped into the nearby Kolonat restaurant. As you can see from the photos, it is a uniquely Albanian institution.

Despite the obvious similarities, the hamburgers are more reminiscent of Wimpy’s, a London-based burger chain than of McDonald’s – i.e., no taste of beef whatsoever. This happens to be the worst case of copyright infringement I’ve come across so far, but there are others that are similarly blatant – for example, there is a “Planet Hollywood” not far from the embassy, and I’ve seen a poster for Tirana’s first “Coyote Ugly” saloon, coming soon. Even so, my favorite instance of copyright infringement comes from Beijing. See if you can tell the difference:

Of course, this also may be one of those curious instances of evolution where two species, separated by thousands of miles of ocean, nonetheless evolve in exactly the same way.

Anyway, the Hash took us back to Petrela, except this time we ran on a neighboring hill. The hill includes some stone walls from approximately 400 BC that the Albanians who were with us said were the remains of Albanopolis, although the Albanian Tourism website lists Albanopolis as being somewhere else entirely. Nonetheless, the walls were there. While the majority of the group ran around the mountain, four of us – Berti, an Albanian, Janet and Abele, from the Dutch embassy, and I – ran over the mountain so we could see the walls up close, and the view from the top.