Gjirokastra is famous for its food. The delicious cuisine is the result of high quality and often organic ingredients prepared by talented cooks. The cuisine has distinct Ottoman roots with its use of local oils, spices, herbs and especially sauces. Gjirokastrans can produce many variations of dishes using only a few basic ingredients.
Typical dishes include pashaqofte, a soup with small meatballs; qifqi, rice balls cooked in a hollow frying pan and mixed with herbs; shapkat, a mixture of sorrels and cornour; sarma or japrak, stuffed grape leaves with rice and mint; and qahi tiny spinach pies. Vegetables are grown in Lunxhëri and the muskmelon of Dropull is especially good. A must-try local dessert in Gjirokastra is oshaf, with sheep milk, and cinnamon. Be sure also to try the Turkish bakllava, prepared in the local way. Another important local product in Gjirokastra is the local cheese, which is renowned throughout Albania and is generally considered the best. This cheese is made from goat, sheep or cow’s milk. The most common cheeses are called djathë i bardhë, a soft white cheese that is similar to, but a bit harder than, feta, and kaçkavall, a hard yellow variety.
The most known phrase nicknaming Gjirokastra people is that they are a little bit ‘stingy’. They like to save money, and to focus only in their family and to invest only in their houses. That is why there are many jokes about people of Gjirokastra. But it is good to save money. According to statistics in Albania, Gjirokastra people are the richest in the country, only because they take seriously the savings for the future. Even for other regions there are jokes. Tepelena people are somehow stubborn, while Permeti people are very hard workers and quiet people. But the hospitality is one of the main characteristic of all Albanians. If you are a guest in every house in Gjirokastra, or in Permet, Tepelene and the whole region, they will serve you the best food and everything they have.