I tried my hands at making byrek today. There isn’t quite a work in the American English language for byrek. In British English it would be called a pie. In the states pies are desserts, where byrek is savory, contains veggies, cheese, and sometimes meat. It is a pastry, usually consumed in the morning hours, though sometimes as an after school snack. It is made with layers of phyllo dough, containing the filling of veggies, cheese, meat or beans in the center. In Elbason there is an amazing byrek place that sells byrek with beans (byrek me fasule). With all my begging over the past two years I just cannot convince the people of Gjirokaster that it is a good idea to put beans in the byrek. Every time I mention it they laugh at me and shake their heads, all the while thinking that is the worst idea for byrek they have ever heard. So today I decided to make some myself! Mine is a little fancier than the byrek me fasule in Elbason…I used pinto beans rather than the usual white beans, and I tossed in some onions, tomato and garlic. Heaven!
Disclaimer: I did not make my own phyllo dough. I’ve seen my host mom make that…it takes all day! I have a paper to write! 🙂 I did however boil my own beans.
Later this week I’m taking it a step further. I’m going to create what I call the burrito byrek. I’m going to add in some beans, ground beef, cheese and then top it with sour cream and homemade salsa. 🙂