Helen – things I miss from England

We want to use this blog not only to talk about the ministry we’re involved in but also to share a little bit about life here in general. We feel that Kosova has been done a disservice by the way that some organisations have described living conditions and we want to try and give an honest and up-to-date view of what living in Kosova is really like.

One of the things that I often get asked both in Kosova and in the UK is what I miss from England. Of course I miss my family and friends but I can easily pick up the phone and use one of the plethora of Apps available to speak to or share photos with people in the UK. Part of the challenge of living in Kosova is that there are some foods that I really miss. The food in Kosova is good and not very expensive but there is not as much variety as in the UK and occasionally I find myself craving things that to some might seem a little odd.

Here’s my top 10 list of foods that I miss from the UK:

10. A proper cup of tea – OK so when I first moved to Kosova I had 800 teabags in my suitcase so I do have them but only at home. I’m not a big fan of Turkish coffee or the super sweet fruit juice that guests are served here. I do get funny looks from people if they see me make or drink English tea, the thought of putting milk but no sugar in tea is odd apparently.

9. Biscuits – I’m talking about chocolate digestives, bourbon creams, hobnobs, ginger nuts and custard creams. The last time we were in the UK I stocked up on some of these but had to laugh recently because of this article. We can get rich tea style biscuits here which are really popular to have with çaj (russian tea).

8. Hellmann’s Mayonnaise – I remember living with a friend from France about 5 years ago and wondering why she brought mayonnaise from France when we had the same thing in England. Well now I know the answer… it’s not the same! I’ve managed to find Hellmann’s Mayonnaise in Skopje, Macedonia, recently and use it sparingly!

7. Crisps – Specifically crisps in any flavour other than salted and paprika. I’m not the biggest crisp lover but a packet of twiglets or pickled onion monster munch would really go down well some days.

6. Marmite and Branston Pickle – OK so I’m cheating and putting two in here. Toast without Marmite and a cheese sandwich without Branston pickle is just not right.

5. Sausages – I have a feeling pork is going to be a common thread in this post. Kosova is a Muslim country but Gjakovë has about a 5% Catholic population so there are pork butchers here but no sausage meat. There are hotdogs and a beef sausage called suxhuk which is spicy but neither of them are anything like a proper British banger.

4. Sausage rolls – I don’t mean supermarket or Greggs sausage rolls, I’m talking about my Mum’s homemade sausage rolls that we only used to get at Christmas. Obviously this goes with number 5: no sausage meat = no sausage rolls.

3. Fish and Chips – Trout is really good here but seafood in general is not, perhaps because Kosova is a landlocked country.

2. Cheese – There are two main types of cheese here, Kaçkavall (yellow cheese) and Djath (white cheese). Kaçkavall is similar to Edam and Djath is a little bit like a Feta cheese: crumbly and stored in salt water. I really miss proper mature cheddar, blue cheese, goats cheese and some soft French cheese such as Camembert or Brie.

1. Proper bacon – I am a meat lover and proud of it and bacon is something I always took for granted in the UK. You can get smoked pork here which is nice but just not the same as proper bacon.

Having read all of this through I don’t want to give the impression that all I do it complain about the lack of food in Kosova. There is a lot of good food here, especially the fresh fruit and vegetables, and it’s nice to have things to look forward to when we visit the UK. I’ll do another post about the local food here but I may need some time to take some photos.

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