Last night I made my way home along the main thoroughfare in Pristina, stumbling and slipping and having near-misses with a pavement which is more like a ploughed field in texture; churned and scarified and half-melted and refrozen, icy and slushy and utterly unpredictable: it’s been a cold few weeks here in Kosovo. My journey was made harder by the fact that I was carrying a large sack bulging with newly-printed cloth bags sewn in a microfinance project our NGO started up for village women to become financially independent. The bags were each printed with the Kosovan flag.
The bags are to celebrate Independence Day today – to mark the fact that the Republic of Kosovo is four years old. My epic journey to bring them home felt somehow like a metaphor, because Kosovo’s journey to statehood has likewise been churned and scarified, half-melted and refrozen and utterly unpredictable. It also reminded me of this day four years ago, when the temperatures and the icy streets were similarly challenging, though the atmosphere was euphoric. Remembering, I got goosebumps that were nothing to do with the cold.
Four years ago I put together some neat little petit-fours for the guests I had round in the build-up to independence day. Taking small Kosovan teaglasses, I soaked hazelnuts in enough honey to cover them, and served them with toothpicks. This year, I had some hazelnuts at home that had been bought from a guy selling next to the road near the same bagmaking project that had laden me down with stock yesterday. Taking some of the nuts this morning and soaking them in honey I felt I had the perfect commemorative and celebratory dish. Happy independence day!
You can read more recipes and honey-related adventures in my Travels in Blood and Honey; becoming a beekeeper in Kosovo, published last year with Signal Books and available through bookshops and on Amazon.