About the food of Macedonia

Lake Ohrid, in the Republic of Macedonia. Photo by Markus Bernet.

Mmmm… M! We’re finally here. Yesterday, when I told my husband Keith (a.k.a. Mr Picky) that we were about to launch into the M’s with this week’s Macedonian Global Table, he was surprised. I’m pretty sure he never thought we’d make it. And to be honest, I’m not sure I did either.

Every letter until now has seemed like the beginning of the alphabet – the beginning of the Adventure. The thing about M is how much it sounds like progress – like we’re going places. Then Keith calculated that we’d be here for the next five months or so. Hmmm. Time to get comfortable.

Maps and flag courtesy of CIA World Factbook.

So, M… Macedonia. Let’s go and say hello… (Just be sure to look up while we do. Literally. Macedonia roughly translates to “tall ones” … most likely in reference to the ancient people’s height and to the mountainous terrain).

In fact, everything seems to be scaled up… and way up high. To say that she’s studded with mountains is an understatement. In fact, most likely thanks to her gritty geography, Macedonia lays claim to one of the world’s oldest observatories: Kokino… which is over 3,800 years old.

Photos of Kokino, courtesy of Acer GER, Marko Skavesna, and US Gov.

As for the food? This Balkan country will remind you a bit of Greece and Turkey, with – of course – her own special flair.

First of all, there’s a lot of meat. Some of the most famous dishes include pastrmajlija, or Macedonian pizza topped with little more than pork and eggs (Pastrmajlija) [Recipe]. Breakfast for dinner, anyone? Then there’s lamb any which way you desire… grilled, roasted, or formed into meatballs. Or, in Mr.Picky’s case, all of the above.

For veggie lovers, there’s also a world of flavor. We already sampled shopska salad [recipe], but there’s also a roasted eggplant salad which is loaded up with tomatoes and peppers [Recipe]. Then there’s a splash of Eastern Europe, which you’ll recognize in her love of stuffed peppers [recipe], potatoes, cabbage, and beets.

For those of you with a sweet tooth, know that you’re in good hands. Rice pudding [Recipeor baklava are popular ways to end a meal. Actually, just about anything drizzled in honey is good (remember our Greek dessert [recipe]?) . For those who prefer just fruit (plain or in a fruit salad), grapes, watermelon, other melons, quince, cherries, apples and plums are all good options. I’ve even seen fruit salad with a scoop of ice cream on top.

National Museum. Photo by Rašo.

These are just a few tidbits – what’s your favorite food from this region?


  1. Jessica Bennett says

    M is a popular letter for naming things. Look at our United States.

  2. Brian S. says

    I was just reading the history of Macedonia. In brief, it’s a history of the region being occupied by one foreign power after another (all the while fighting for independence). First Alexander the Great, who came from a region to the south that was also called Macedonia, then Rome, then Bulgaria, Byzantine Empire, Turkey, Serbia, even, around 1080, French armies from Normandy.

    One suggestion, talking of a group bullied by everybody. Maybe at some point you should do a Gypsy dish. Macedonia is around 8% Gypsy (aka Roma). They don’t have their own country.

  3. aunty eileen says

    …and our planet ‘Mother-earth’ 🙂 wiki: “may refer to: Mother Nature, a common metaphorical expression for the Earth and its biosphere as the giver and sustainer of life;…. ” and for some countries – wiki: “Motherland may refer to a mother country, i.e. the place of one’s birth, the place of origin of an ethnic group or immigrant, or a Metropole in contrast to its colonies. People from……” very interesting reading

  4. Penny Wolf says

    I worked with a man,my very good friend,who was from Macedonia. He seemed to love stuffed peppers ALOT!
    He also was so proud of his wife’s chicken and rice soup. Even though she wasn’t Macedonian he claimed that she made it best. I have no idea what made this soup different. His baklava was to die for. Thanks for making me remember.

  5. Elizabeth says

    I grew up in a Macedonian Orthodox church and my favorite meal was a tie between the lamb shanks cooked in red wine, olive oil, and a slew of herbs and could be eaten with a spoon it was so tender and the peta actually. Not bread, pita. Peta. It’s a cheesy (sometimes with spinach) quiche almost, with a scrumptious crust. Every New Year, we put a quarter in there and the fortunate (or unfortunate depending on your tooth situation) finder will have good luck the rest of the year! I actually like it as a dessert, but I’m weird like that and enjoy salty desserts. Many eat it as a breakfast meal.

    So excited to see what you show us from this GREAT country!

    • Sasha Martin says

      Sounds delicious – I love any meal where you can find a lucky coin/trinket. Thanks for sharing your memories!

    • Brian S. says

      I believe the fruit salad term isn’t related to this Macedonia. It referred to the empire of Alexander the Great, born in Macedonia… not this Macedonia but a region of Greece. Just as the empire had lots of nationalities, so did the salad have lots of different kinds of fruit. That’s why they used the term.

      • sedat says

        italiano sinifica fruta mista e anche e muto buona devi asegiarla ,qomunque macedonia sinifica nell le lingue antiche madre terra

  6. Fidanka says

    I am new to this food blog and I LOVE IT! Maybe because I am Macedonian and I find amazing someone from middle USA to write about the food and eaing habits of 2 milion people in the middle of the Balkan. Bravo! Your last photo – National Museum by Raso is actually Museum of the city Shtip (Eastern Macedonia region) and Shtip is known for Pastrmajlija (as you say Macedonian Pizza) and the city is organizing an event Pastarmalijada in honour of this food 🙂
    Looking foward for more interesting food all over the world 🙂

  7. Ивица says

    Fantastic! I’m Macedonian and no Macedonian or other blog has ever described Macedonian food like this. Perfect!

  8. eleni says

    There is no country in the world called Macedonia. Macedonia is a region in Greece. The refered country is FYROM or Skopje. Above that, great work with cooking from there!

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