BULGARIA - ancient country with authentic cuisine

What to try here?

Bread has a special place in the Bulgarian culture and history. In the past, all Bulgarian women used to learn how to prepare bread shortly after they had learnt to walk and talk. Bread is prepared in a variety of shapes and sizes. The most famous is the so-called “pitka” that most of the times is served with salt, honey or wine. People bake it for different kind of occasions like welcoming guests in the house, weddings, child births, Christmas Eve and so on.

Another Bulgarian wonder is the mighty “banitsa”. Making banitsa needs a great skill to roll out pastry and then to join the sheets of pastry with filling between them. Usually filling is made out of cheese, whipped eggs and yoghurt. But sometimes banitsa is also prepared with vegetable filling (spinach, leeks), minced meat filling or fruit filling (apples, pumpkin). That passion for pastry surely comes from the part of Slavonic blood that runs through our veins it is said.

Bulgarian yogurt is the most popular variety of yogurt in the world and is one of the things that make Bulgarians proud of. Bulgarian yogurt needs to be made with two specific starter bacteria, Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. It is the particular combination of bacteria that characterizes the thickness, acidity, taste and aroma of it. People who have tasted yogurt from countries all over the world always find that none of them tastes anything like the Bulgarian variety. Bulgarians completely agree that their yogurt is the best – some 400 000 tons are consumed every year in the country.

There is also a special place reserved in the Bulgarian cuisine for the many aromatic spices and herbs which grow in abundance here - savory, thyme, mint, hogweed, laurel-leaves, basil, rosemary and many more. They are much valued in the whole orthodox world and Bulgarians even have a special feast dedicated to herbs and their healing properties - Enyovden (Midsummer Day). As we all know the pharmacy starts with the herbs there for in Bulgaria The Day of the Pharmacists is Enyovden.

This ancient Bulgarian ritual is considered the turning point in the mythological calendar of the ancient people – a ritual connected to the summer Equinox, when the day is longest and the night is shortest. Enyovden / Enyo's Day is a favorite summer holiday for young and old. It practically divides the year into two.According to old tradition the Midsummer herbs are picked early, because according to popular belief, if torn on this day before sunrise, their curative properties are magical.

If you want to start your dinner like a real Bulgarian, then you will have to try our most popular mix – “Shopska” salad with a fiery RAKIA. Shopska salad is undoubtedly a great contribution of Bulgaria in culinary world - it is made of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions, parsley and grated feta cheese. And the Rakia?! – A real elixir of life, it’s a drink that will make you forget all other drinks. It is made from fermented grapes, plums, or virtually any fruit with sugars in it.

If Rakia doesn’t cure your soul it is time to gather your braveness and try the one and only "Oblak". "Oblak" means "cloud" in Bulgarian. This cocktail is made of Mastika (aniseed drink) and Mentha in 1:1 proportion. When those two things are mixed it becomes cloudy.
What is more, for sure this is the right way and the best recipe of making friends. “Nazdrave!” means “Cheers!” in Bulgarian and the more often you raise your glass, the deeper your connection with the surrounding Bulgarians will become.

The cure or what to do if you have gulped down too many Rakias!! Bulgarian are leaders in drinking but also wizard of healing hangover. It is made of chopped in cubes cucumbers with a clove of garlic and bunch of dill, some sunflower oil, pinch of salt and finally the yoghurt. All of the ingredients are diluted to needed consistency with cold water, adding some grated walnuts and voila we have the Tarator. It is traditional meal for the spring and summer seasons. So party hard without worries!

Of course, we have something for the bravest and hungriest heroes from the group – the so-called “Meshana skara”. There is a really minimal chance of finishing this alone, but remember that you can always call your Bulgarian friends to help! :)

And last but not least – Bulgarian Wine.
Wine is the sacred drink. Yet from the ancient times our lands are famous with winemaking. Thracians were among the best and most famous winemakers at that time and the Bulgarians have continued the tradition. A unique variety is Mavrud, which is grown only in Bulgaria since the ancient times - the wine made of Mavrud is ruby red, thick and full-bodied and its qualities are recognized worldwide. Other unique varieties, grown on few areas and therefore very valuable are “keratsuda” and “shiroka melnishka loza”.

If you ask Bulgarians what do they celebrate at February, 14th, there is no way to get the following answer: “Saint Valentines”. Here, on this date, we celebrate Wine-growers’ Day or “Trifon Zarezan”. It dates back to the ancient Thracians. So this is a celebration dedicated to a drink, which is not celebrated anywhere else in the world. It is also essential that one knows that Bulgarian wine has very long traditions and is famous for its quality.