Albanians eat a lot! Food is a huge part of the culture and most people in Pajove (the village I live in) are farmers, so their lives revolve around food. The traditional Albanian dishes are: pilaf, any kind of meat (or mish as they call it), salad, and gjele. Gell is a type of soup that is served in every household in Albaina. Each gjele is different, but there are a few similarities that make gjele, gjele. First of all, gell is always an orangy-red color. I have no idea how this color is created (and I don't think I want to know), but every gell I have seen since I have been here has been orangy-red. In the colored broth there can be potatoes, rice, onions, animal fat, and meat. The meat can be from lamb to duck to chicken to beef. The Albanians really are not particular about their meat. The meat is served as a huge hunk (bones included) in the soup. The first time one is served gell it looks like the meal is going to be a war between you and your fork and spoon against the hunk of meat (they don't use knives when eating gell). And believe me, it is war! This is served just about every night at my host family. It is not that I do not enjoy it, but it would be nice to change things up every once in a while.
My host mother is very concerned about my food intake. Every time I walk in the door, walk into the room, leave the house, and around dinner time she always asks or maybe I should say commands "ha buke!" (eat! eat!) I have had to learn a lot of different Albanian phrases for, thanks, but no thanks, I am full, I usually don't eat this much, ect. Last night, my host father asked me why I was not eating very much. I politely explained to him that if I continued to eat at the pace that he and my host mom wanted me to I would gain A TON of weight. He then laughed and said, "you are not fat, my wife is fat!" no joke. (side note: being called fat in albania is not rude) Let's just say eating is a religion to these people.