Jams & Honey

A couple of years ago, we got to know some of the women you see out there at various seasons, busily collecting stuff – blackberries in season, chestnuts, whatever.  Usually while they’re also watching the sheep graze (or cows, or whatever).  Turns out that the buckets of berries (let’s say) all get carted down to the local “pik grumbullimi” or wholesale collection point, where they are paid (are you ready for this?) A PITTANCE.  For a large sack of chestnuts that you can barely lift, they might get 20euro, depending on the price that year.  Ten kilos of blackberries (which apparently go on to Italy to be put in luxury chocolates and things like that) – 10 euro.  So we said “For god’s sake, let’s make something ourselves – and you can sell it in our shop for more than that!”  At first people just smiled at us nicely (“What is she saying?”  “Lord only knows.  Just smile.”).  So finally I said to Tale, “How much are you going to sell that bucket of blackberries for?”  10 euro.  “Fine, here’s 10 euros, can I have them?”  She thought about it – saved her a trip dragging the bucket to the pik.  “Okay – but mind you bring my bucket back!”  A few days later, I returned with the bucket.  “Here’s your bucket, and I made 30 jars of jam with those berries.  So here’s another 50 euro.”  She looked at the money in her hand.  “I can make Quince Jam,” she said.  We now have a growing collective of women, all busily making jam.  And guess what?  It’s delicious!!!

Now for a note on honey.  Tropojans perceive honey as one of the greatest of the many natural luxuries they produce, and by sheer price per kilo it might be considered the greatest.  Well, you know, excepting that Oscar Wilde cost vs. value thing.  I have seen a few tourists (not travellers, of course) with raised eyebrows at the pricing of honey in the shop.  But my mother (thanks Mom!) just sent me this link to an Albanian company which is selling chestnut honey online for a whopping 27$ for less than half a kilo!  If you want to buy honey in bulk, 2 kilos sells for about 45euro on the street here, which – I mean –  is what locals expect to pay, and probably explains why so many houses have a couple of bee-huts in their yards (’cause who has 45 euro to fling around? NO ONE!).  Anyhow, we’re happy to tell you how to go find BIG bottles of honey locally, if you stop by the shop!  Otherwise, we sell reasonably priced, but more portable small jars of amazing local honey.  You can generally expect to spend 15 euro for half a kilo.