Bukë në Voter
Bread and baked goods - Albania
Bukë në voter is an old recipe from Kelmend in northern Albania, linked to a special way of baking homemade cornbread (bukë misri in Albanian or bukë kollomoqi in the local dialect). Bukë kollomoqi is in fact a very common dish in the tables of Kelmend, in the past prepared with the traditional voter, a big, flat stone heated by the fire on which the bread is cooked. The dough for the cornbread is made with hot water and corn flour. In Kelmend, the soil is particularly good for the cultivation of kollomoq i verdhë (yellow corn), but nowadays also kollomoq i bardhë (white corn) is cultivated, and so the cornbread can be prepared with both kinds of flour. Once the voter is hot and the dough ready, the dough is formed into a round shape and placed on the hot stone. The dough must be covered with an iron lid and the embers of the fire for about 45 minutes. Since the cornbread tends to be a bit hard, it is possible to immerse it in shëllirë (the salty water in which cheese is usually conserved) to make it softer and tastier before eating it. Because Kelmend is a Catholic region, before baking the bread, women used to draw a cross on it. The bread is, in fact, seen as a gift from God. The problem of the corn variety used today is related to economic planning developed in Albania during the Communist regime. Unlike what happened in other countries of the Communist bloc in Eastern Europe, in Albania since 1967 it was not possible to have any kind of private economic activity, even at the family level. The state decided and controlled everything, including each crop for each territory. This inevitably led to the loss of the farmers' local corn varieties. Today the traditonal ovens have also been gradually replaced by electric ovens, though some elderly members of the community still have and know how to use the voter method. The use of newer ovens, however, has inevitably changed the characteristic taste of the traditional bread. The cornbread has come to be considered a “poor” product, and its consumption is limited to family use within the home.