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Help Me Learn About Albanian Raki
***The following mini-article— “Help Me Learn About Albanian Raki” by Ashley Elizabeth Wood is not an official Albanian Voices article. The views expressed in this article are entirely those of their author and do not necessarily represent the views of Albanian Voices or any of its partner organizations.***
I want to learn everything there is to know about Albanian raki. Will you help me by taking this survey?
I have always been fascinated with the culture of high proof, distilled liquor. Not the kind you can buy in the store, but the kind your uncle makes in his backyard. I know they say that kind of alcohol is illegal, but I don’t exactly see it that way. Maybe it’s because every culture that I love does it – American Southerners make moonshine, Puerto Ricans make pitorro, Colombians make aguardiente and Italians make grappa. And if you like that, here is a list of many more. Maybe the topic interests me because alcohol (mostly beer) is the reason that humankind made it as far as they did. Maybe it’s because humans have been making alcohol for centuries, and it is a source of family and cultural pride all around the world.
It was no surprise that I became enthralled with raki when I went to Albania, Montenegro, Macedonia and Kosovo. Alcoholic beverages are interwoven with Albania’s history and the most popluar and traditional is raki. It is often made from grapes but can be distilled from a variety of fruits; including plums, mulberries, and quinces. The best raki is made in small batches by artisans who truly take pride in their craft. Everywhere I went in the Albanian-speaking regions of the Balkans, I ordered it: Albanian raki; not Serbian rakija or Turkish rakı (there is a difference). It was always brought out to us from the back of the store in reused glass or plastic bottles, indicating that the raki was made in the home, and not bought from a store.
I have searched for information on raki, but it seems that the articles only talk about Turkish raki and Serbian rakija. I have found very little written about Albanian raki and what I’ve found has not seemed to be accurate. I am hoping to learn more with your help. Two articles that I do like that talk about raki are from the former “Albania or Bust blog” (which has been renamed “Belgium or Bust”), and this “Country by Country” guide. Both are lacking a lot of information, but seem to be better than the Wikipedia pages I linked to above.