Around the World Challenge – North Macedonia

Hey everyone! It’s been a while – oh well, life happens – but the North Macedonian post and the recipes are here!

Before I start, I just wanted to mention that from now on I will not be posting the recipes all at once. It became a bit too overwhelming to post 4 posts simultaneously, so instead, you’ll get this post with 1 recipe and I’ll add the rest over the course of a week or two. 🙂

By the way, if you saw me call the country simply Macedonia before then it’s because I had no clue that there had been a name change in 2019 – but it has been fixed now. Apologies to any locals out there – you live and you learn!

  • Location: Southeast Europe
  • Population: about 2 million
  • Capital City: Skopje
  • Languages: Macedonian, Albanian

What you should know about North Macedonia…

Similarly to Burundi that we checked last time, North Macedonia or the Republic of North Macedonia is a small, landlocked country. It is located in the central Balkan Peninsula in Southeastern Europe. North Macedonia has 5 neighbours: Kosovo and Serbia to the north, Bulgaria to the east, Greece to the south, and Albania to the west.

North Macedonia is largely mountainous, with many peaks rising above the tree line at 2,000 metres above sea level. They belong to two different mountain ranges: the first is the Šar Mountains, the second range is the Osogovo–Belasica mountain chain.

In between the mountains, there’s a clearly defined central valley formed by the Vardar river. Additionally, North Macedonia has 3 lakes on the southern borders with Greece and Albania. Lake Ohrid, which is one of the three largest lakes there, is also considered to be one of the oldest lakes and biotopes in the world.

Lake Ohrid, North Macedonia

The name dispute

When I mentioned above that I didn’t know that Macedonia had changed its name, it was due to a result of a long-time name dispute with Greece.

When the Republic of Macedonia declared its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 as “Macedonia”, Greece objected to the name of the new republic, insisting that “Macedonia” had been used by Greeks since ancient times and that its “appropriation” by the Republic of Macedonia constituted a “falsification of history” and a revival of territorial claims on Greek Macedonia (Makedonía). The Macedonian republic argued in turn that Slavs had lived in the area for 14 centuries and had used the name Macedonia for hundreds of years.

From then on, Greece made a significant effort to block Macedonia from being recognized under its constitutional name as well as block them from participating in international organisations. It worked – for example, only by identifying themselves as “the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” did Macedonia gain admission to the United Nations in 1993.

Finally, in June 2018, Macedonia and Greece resolved the dispute with an agreement that the country should rename itself “Republic of North Macedonia”. This renaming came into effect in February 2019.

The Cuisine of North Macedonia

The country’s cuisine is representative of that of the Balkans—reflecting the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern (Ottoman) influences. Also, because of the sunny and relatively warm climate in Macedonia that allows excellent conditions for growing a variety of vegetables, fruits, spices and herbs, Macedonian cuisine is very diverse.

The national dish and drink of North Macedonia are considered to be tavče gravče and mastika, respectively. Tavče gravče is a baked bean dish and there isn’t a week in a Macedonian kitchen without it. Mastika is a liqueur seasoned with mastic. Other notable foods that I this time did not make but you should perhaps check out are Shopska Salad – a salad consisting of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and shredded white cheese; Pastrmalija – a homemade “pizza”; and Sarma – cabbage rolls.

Since I’m a bit more of a baker than a cook, I chose to check out the Macedonian version of Musaka, the Vanilici cookies and a Spinach and Feta Burek.

Recipes

North Macedonian Musaka
North Macedonian musaka (македонска мусака) or "moussaka" as it's often spelt internationally is an amazing soul-warming casserole dish that is easy …

Next Stop

It’s time to also find out what our next stop will be.

Are you ready?

Aaaand we arrived in Mozambique! Woah, things will get interesting!

♡ & see you in the next one!
Helena



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