that's our james

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07 May 2008

Happily ever after...

Ah an Albanian wedding. Truly an interesting experience. I recommend every person attend at least one Albanian wedding during his lifetime. Last month Marisa and I attended the wedding of our friend Ersa. Katie and I got to know Ersa pretty well during these past two years. Ersa is the one who made Albanian apple pie for my first birthday here. We've spent many wonderful evenings at Ersa's house, eating great food, drinking tasty homemade wine, and just relaxing in a very nice and comfortable house.

The bride and her family.

I should probably explain the makings of an Shqiptare (Albanian) wedding.

First and foremost, Food! Lots of food. I mean way more than could possibly be consumed. You start with a meat plate. I should be more specific. You start with the cold meat plate. Oh and the table is already set with sliced vegetables on plates and bread. Then begins the hot meat selection. The type and number of hot meats varies but at Ersa's we had shishkebab (I don't know how to spell that in English, in Albanian it's shishqebap), followed by biftek vienez. Biftek vienez is one of my favorites and it's more or less a Berat dish. It's like a cordon-blu but with veal and no ham. Same idea though, meat, cheese, and fried. Yummy. This artery clogger was followed by turkey and stuffing. Yep they have turkey and stuffing here too. Finally after all this food and beers/sodas/wine, the cake slices are delivered.

Marisa's food collection. Being a vegetarian, she didn't each much of the offerings and left before the cake arrived. I, now being experienced at Albanian meals, knew not to touch her food. I would have more than I could handle on my own.

Second must-have is music and dancing. Lots of both. The music should be LOUD, really loud and feature hardcore wailing on the clarinet. The dancing takes the form of a circle dance with the circle being overwhelmed by itself and turning into a winding line of dancers, navigating tables, columns, waiters, and other parts of the circle dance line.

Ersa looking radiant leading the dance.

Oh and another interesting tradition is the money giving. Granted in America we often give gifts of money but here they do it with so much more... we'll go with flare. You see instead of putting the money in a lovely card from Hallmark, you put the money in the bride's dress! Hehe. I had to try this out. It was quite fun. It's not degrading or inappropriate in any way. It definitely makes it more energetic. After I clumsily made my contribution, I saw that there was a basket at the foot of the couple's table where money could be given. The rest of my contributions were delivered in that manner.

Ersa being amused by my self-conscious delivery

Albanian weddings are not held in church. It's more like a reception. Another difference is that there is one ceremony for the bride and her family on one day and another ceremony for the groom and his family the following day. There are also family visits and various lunches in the days prior to the ceremonies. Since I am not Albanian, I'm not really familiar with that element.

I had a blast! The food, the dancing, the friends, and even the music. At 3:00am, I said my goodbyes and headed home. And before I finish, I should tell you that I was right on time to the wedding. Well on time according to the details in my head. When we arrived at 9:30, everyone was inside already. Turns out the wedding start time was 9:00 not 9:30. Oops. At least we got there before the bride.


At 12:21 AM, Blogger Andrea said...

"Biftek vienez is one of my favorites and it's more or less a Berat dish."

LOL, I think you might find it's a Viennese dish but anyway... I love that dish too.


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