The “compote” we are offering in the shop is made following the local, traditional recipe, leaving whole berries (WITH their stones) floating in a gorgeous scarlet cordial. Traditionally, a small glass might be given to guests, who can drink the cordial and then chew up the berries. Alternatively, you can make some really wacky and original cocktails with it. I’m guessing you could create some really killer rich butter cakes if you drizzled the thana stuff all over them . . . . gotta get on that asap.
At any rate the background is . . . Ah HA! Here you have arrived at one of the true treasured . . . well, TREASURES of Tropoja. When I first arrived here (over 14 years ago), “thana” was one of the flavors I was most often told about, as something really special and local – most often in the form or raki, or as a compote (whole berries preserved in sweet syrup), OR as a handful of beautiful but astringent berries lugged out of someone’s pocket and shoved at me (mostly so they could laugh at my puckered face after I ate them – they are tart!). I couldn’t figure out what the heck it was. Once I hit the season where I could actually find it in situ, on a bush, I was astounded to find that ‘thana’ was a fruiting dogwood. I mean, in the States dogwoods are purely decorative. I’d never heard of a dogwood doing anything useful, like making these gorgeous, translucent berries. But, after cross-referencing a couple of flora, I found the name in English: The Cornelian Cherry. Fat lot of good that was. Who’d ever heard of Cornelian Cherries? Turns out this (yes) fruiting dogwood (Cornus mas) occurs only from Turkey through the Balkans. It features in Turkish cuisine, most particularly as moderately sweetened syrup.