Thursday, 10 April 2014

"Enver Hoxha (Remember him?)" -or - "When I think about Albania I think about Crepes" - or - "Thank goodness for immigrants.

 Enver Hoxha was the communist autocrat who governed Albania between 1944 and 1991.  Under his rule Albania declared itself to be the first Atheistic State. All religion was suppressed.

(I have often thought that God has a sense of irony  -  inasmuch as the fact that Mother Theresa of Calcutta was Albanian.)

Since 1991 Albania has become a democracy and has aligned itself with NATO etc.


Less than a mile from my home is a neat Café called "Alma's Kouzine". It's a small place which seats no more than 40 people.
The menu includes American standbys (Burgers, Club Sandwiches, BLT's etc) but Crepes are the specialty of the house.  Not just Crepes, but damn good Crepes made with whole wheat flour.
At lunch and dinner times the Crepes are available with a variety of savoury fillings, e.g. curried chicken, or sea-food, or jambalaya. They are superb!
I was at Alma's today to have lunch with my good friend from Church, Muriel Q.  (She's a lassie from Lancashire).
Of course I arrived early.  That was fortuitous because ALMA (the woman for whom the Kouzine is named) was (unusually) taking a break, and relaxing on a bench near the Café.
That gave us a chance to talk.  As you may have guessed by now Alma (in her early 40's) is from Albania. 
She told me that  she left that country when she was 22 years old. She remembers  all too well the privations under Hoxha ( poverty, lack of food, political repression etc.)
She remembers that her father was arrested and given a severe interrogation because he had rigged his radio to be able to listen to the "Voice of America" and the BBC.  (A friend had ratted on him).
She rejoiced that in the United States she has found the opportunity to own and run a business (with her husband), and that she is now able to take vacations in her homeland, there to spend time with her extended family.
She worries because her (their) daughters are growing up without any sense of hardship or struggle, and that they could become "spoiled brats". ( I see little chance of this happening. The daughters work in  the café during the evening, on weekends, and during school holidays. They work hard and have inherited or emulated their mother's gracious character.  Whether it be Mum or one of the daughters who is on duty, guests are assured of a warm and joyful welcome.
(It was such a privilege to have this lovely chat with Alma, then to enjoy a wonderful Jambalaya  filled Crepe, with the added bonus of the company and conversation with my friend Muriel) .
By the way, there is a Mr. Alma!  (I have no idea of his first name) He is the cook as well as the proud husband of Alma, and of their daughters.
He emerged from the kitchen today, and recognizing me as a regular shook my hand.
What a wonderful day!  A day in which I utter a heartfelt "Thank goodness for immigrants"

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