Words by Jessica Gadd Images by Mike Emmett and supplied
‘The honour of an Albanian’, so the saying goes, ‘Cannot be sold or bought in a bazaar’.
This belief has its origins in the Albanian Kanun or code of honour, ‘Besa’ (‘to keep the promise’), which dates to ancient times and is still practised by many Albanians today.
Besa incorporates a warm sense of hospitality, which is something that’ll be served up in spades at the upcoming Albanian Harvest Festival in Shepparton. Visitors can expect traditional Albanian food, Albanian music and dancing performances, BBQ and grill, kids’ activities including jumping castle and face painting, and a market showcasing the fruits and vegetables of the Autumn harvest – much of it at wholesale prices.
‘There’s quite a large Albanian Community here, about 3000-strong,’ says Enver Sabri, president of the Albanian Harvest Festival committee. ‘We wanted to find a way to celebrate our culture and because a lot of us are farming families, end of harvest seemed to be a good time for that.’
The Festival started 17 years ago and has grown progressively since then to become the large celebration it is today, attracting Albanians from as far afield as QLD, NSW and SA.
The Festival is an important way for us to pass on some of our cultural traditions to our children, and to share Albanian culture with the wider community.
‘Because it’s a farming area here the pace is quite slow-moving, which can make it easier to continue traditions,’ Mr Sabri says. ‘The Festival is an important way for us to pass on some of our cultural traditions to our children, and to share Albanian culture with the wider community.’
The region around Shepparton is known as Victoria’s fruit bowl, home to some of Australia’s largest food processing companies such as Campbells and SPC-Ardmona, so a visit to this region during harvest-time is a must for those who love preserving or just want to experience some of Victoria’s best produce, picked at its peak, including pears, apples, stonefruit, and vegetables.
All of these will be available at the market within the Albanian Harvest Festival – along with Albanian specialities such as baklava and other pastries, pickled vegetables, handmade cheeses and fresh petullas – the Albanian answer to donuts. These come especially highly recommended.
‘Petulla’s are like a donut without a hole, but they’re lighter and less filling than a donut,’ Enver says. ‘If you are going to try one Albanian food, make it this one!’
One lucky person might even get to experience petullas IN Albania, with a trip to Albania up for grabs on the day. Of course, you don’t need to go that far to experience Albanian culture and cuisine – you’ll get a taste of both at the Albanian Harvest Festival.
‘Albanians like the simple things,’ Enver says. ‘We like to be happy! So come along – you will have a great time, and experience a different culture as well.’
What: The Albanian Harvest Festival
Where: Shepparton Showgrounds, 11am-5pm
When: 18 March, 2018
Entry: Gold coin donation
More information here: https://www.facebook.com/SheppartonAlbanianHarvestFestival/