Given Name: Tavë Dhèu
Alias: Calf’s Liver and Sour Ricotta Stew
Place(s) of Origin: Albania
Place Consumed: Shkodër, Albania
Common Features: Calf’s liver (and/or veal), gjize*, onions, tomato paste, pepper
Background: I asked one of the employee’s at my Tirana hostel about Albanian cuisine. Tavë dhèu was mentioned without hesitation. No, scratch that. Slight hesitation, because a dish with offal, in this case calf livers, is never assumed to be on the hit list for tourists. As you’ll read in verdict, it wasn’t the least welcome addition to my meal.
Verdict: After leaving Tirana without success in finding it, I ended up somewhat pleading with the chef/proprietor at a Shkodër dive to make it. The semolina bread helped cut the richness of the cheesy stew, which was made all the more hearty by the veal and calf liver. It might be unwise to eat this heavy dish often, particularly if you know what your heart does.
How did I find that this contained veal and liver? I had to speak Italian with the chef. I don’t speak Italian. For every exclamation point out there, there’s a crooked version laughing in the shadows…
As an aside, I asked for a salad too, although it seems Albania is equally as c-r-aaaa-zy about mayonnaise as East Asia. It was an atypical blend of oranges, red cabbage and I think cantaloupe, and surprisingly the plate was finished. By me.
Recipes: Hone your web translator acumen because I’ve got two in Albanian for you:
Tavë Dhèu1 and Tavë Dhèu2.
*(Albanian) gjize= akin to sour ricotta