Brief Histories of Favourite Balkan Foods

While foreign rule and power struggles often brought havoc to the Balkan peoples, it also left behind a diverse cuisine in which various influences merge and make the best use of the region’s fertile lands. While some regional specialities do not cross borders, the limits between the national cuisines in the Balkans tend to be blurry, with many nations enjoying same foods, albeit claiming them … Continue reading Brief Histories of Favourite Balkan Foods

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Serbia and Albania: Know Thy Neighbour

In October 2017, I went to Tirana for a conference about relations between Serbia and Albania, jointly organised by the Albanian Institute for International Studies and the European Movement in Serbia. One of the topics of the conference was the public perception of the relationship between the two countries, which made me instinctively shudder. Despite the recent displays of friendship between the Albanian Prime Minister … Continue reading Serbia and Albania: Know Thy Neighbour

Westsplaining the Balkans

Twenty years ago, while the embers of war in Bosnia and Croatia were still smouldering, Bulgarian historian Maria Todorova published “Imagining the Balkans”. In this seminal work, she detailed the ways in which the Balkans have been perceived and documented for centuries both home and aboard – most often as a somewhat brutal and uncivilised forecourt of Europe. Todorova called this discourse “Balkanism” as homage … Continue reading Westsplaining the Balkans

Tirana Transformed

My first impressions of Tirana in 2008, were that the city did not look like anything I’ve ever seen before. Outside of the planned central core, buildings, new and old, were shooting up randomly, making the drive around the outskirts a vertiginous experience. The whole city was marked by almost five decades of Enver Hoxha’s Stalinist isolationism and its chaotic aftermath. There were bunkers, grand … Continue reading Tirana Transformed

Lake Skadar: eerie land of macabre fairies, ruins and skeletal hills

Lake Skadar is as dramatic as landscapes get in Europe. Whichever side you apprach it from in Montenegro your first sight of it will be an explosion of a green watery expanse, dotted with white cones of karst covered in thick Mediterranean bush. As you train your eye on its beauty, you will notice birds soaring above its waters and maybe a ruin of a … Continue reading Lake Skadar: eerie land of macabre fairies, ruins and skeletal hills