Back in Minnesota, we used to hang out with our friends Eli and Ashley every week for "food night", which often involved making some kind of Thai curry from scratch, grinding up the spices in a mortar and pestle. Sometimes we'd cook other things, but it was usually something Asian, so we'd start the night by heading over to the nearby Asian grocer to stock up on the necessary ingredients.
My favorite part of these excursions was when Eli would buy the most bizarre thing he could find and then dare me to eat or drink it. For example, they gagged at the first sip of Aloe Vera jelly drink while I drank them under the table by finishing my 8 oz can, winning a bet in the process. (I won a nickel!) Which brings me to the newest section of our journal… a game in which I will try totally unknown foods. Eli, this one's for you!
Our first Macedonian shopping excursion was at a gas station just across the border from Greece. We picked up the following:
A bag of "Pardon Select Crisp" which was a satisfying snack, reminiscent of Better Cheddars (according to Tyler):
My favorite, a cute little juice box called "Pingo" filled with a lemon/orange flavored beverage:
A can of something you spread on bread at breakfast time when you're drinking your tea?
I tried it for breakfast and it was pretty gross… it tasted like the tubes of processed meat they have in Tunisia and Greece, only ground up and processed some more.
Finally, we picked up this great can of who-knows-what, but we saved it for a later date.
Today at Dejan's house we got a little hungry so we walked to a shop about a block away where we picked up these things:
I had a hunch this was Halva, the sesame seed confection found in Tunisia and Greece, and at the Middle Eastern grocery shops back home.
I was right. While I enjoy it in small doses, I never go out of my way to eat it. Something about it is just a little bitter for my tastes.
In the same vein as Halva, here was another sweet treat that was okay, but not something I'd go out of my way to eat.
They were rose-flavored jelly things, probably "Turkish Delight." Tyler didn't like the texture, but I did.
The actual rose flavor was good, but a little strange, as I am more accustomed to the scent in relation to soap or perfume or other things that are not edible. I think I would have preferred lemon or mint flavor, but that's just me.
This little can of what I hoped would be delicious roasted chicken goo, just like they have in France…
…was not. It had very little chicken flavor and I'm wondering if it was mostly chicken fat? Either way, not a winner.
Blueberry juice! It was mostly sugar and not immensely "blueberry-y" but still it was good and a nice change of pace. Plus I love juice. Period.
The bungee bar—we had to get it just for the name. It was just what you'd expect of ridiculously cheap chocolate.
The Roxy bar. A little like a Three Musketeers but a LOT more bland.
And our favorite of this snack-run was…
Which tasted exactly like smoked chicken.
A few hours after snacking on ridiculously cheap Macedonian junk food, we took Dejan out to dinner to thank him for hosting us. The restaurant we went too looked for all the world like a "TGI Fridays" or a "Chilis" and could have been quite at home in suburban America, right next to a shopping mall. They did, however, serve some really good traditional Macedonian dishes.
For the equivalent of $2.50, we got two feet of delicious Pastrmajlija, a sort of Macedonian pizza. Dough covered in a layer of cheese and then chicken, served with tangy hot peppers… it was so good that we ordered another to have the next day.
Here it is after having been folded in half in our panniers all morning:
It is so much fun to try all kinds of new foods, especially now that everything is much, much cheaper than it was in Euro countries! More installments coming soon as we pedal onwards.