My plate had been studded with amber, jade and ruby. These were Përmet’s famous ‘gliko’ sweetmeats, made from walnut, aubergine and pumpkin.
The secret lies in first soaking the rinds in lime. Then they’re boiled in sugar and lemon juice with geranium flowers to produce a tender, fragrant treat.
With lunch finished I was now trying another southern Albanian indulgence – the nearby warm springs.
There had been no-one at the natural pool so I’d stripped, and lolled here in the blue water feeling the sulphur-softness on my rejuvenated and sweetened skin; experiencing what can happen to pumpkins in Përmet.
Elizabeth Gowing has lived in Albania for the last five years. She is the co-founder of The Ideas Partnership charity working in the Balkans on education, environmental and cultural heritage projects, and the author of four books on the region. Her translations from Albanian to English have been published by Rrokullia Press. She is a frequent contributor to BBC Radio 4's 'From Our Own Correspondent'.