Most of the foreigners I know associate Bulgaria with Black Sea and with yogurt.

It is true that the Black Sea runs along one of our borders and that yogurt is something like a national food but there is so much more to my country. Take the mountains for example. The tallest peak on the Balkan peninsula is in the Rila mountain. I read some time ago that the scientists distinguish 48 (forty-eight) different mountains in Bulgaria! And how about the Thracians who lived on the ground that later became Bulgaria?

There are many artifacts left from that time to explore these people. And these are only  two of the many facts about Bulgaria that escape the common tourist.

If you happen to visit Bulgaria , you have friends there and you are invited at their homes, prepare yourselves for a lengthy and generous meal. No Bulgarian will ever let you leave the house without first sitting at his/her table.  The meal will start by eating mixed salad made usually of tomatoes, cucumber, onion, parsley and Bulgarian white cheese (if you are in the Western region of the country). The ingredients vary according to what is available.  If it is winter, then you will be served “туршия” (pickled vegetables). Usually the salad/туршия is accompanied by “ракия”  (type of national brandy made of either grapes or fruits). If it is summer and very hot outside, you may be served “мастика” instead. This is an anise brandy and is served almost frozen along with very cold water. You are left to mix the two ingredients in  proportion most suitable to your taste. On the other hand, if it is winter and the wind is singing outside, the hosts may offer you “греяна ракия” ( warm brandy). The brandy is warmed with a bit of sugar, water and spices. Do not forget that along with the salad and the small cup of alcohol you will be enjoying a slow, pleasant conversation. The key point here is the conversation. The salad, the brandy, the weather are like the spices for the good dish.

After that comes the main course. This can consist of various ingredients that I will not say anything about it. You can find some Bulgarian recipes In the section Recipes”. The dish is served along with wine. Keep in mind that we consider the wine almost a food so we consume only one-two glasses per meal.

The desert is usually fruits (if it is spring or summer) or “компот” (compote) (in the winter months). Bulgarians have a sweet tooth so instead of fruits there may be a cake or something similar. Coffee is usually served at this point. The coffee will be either espresso or Turkish. The drip coffee is not very popular in Bulgaria and the coffee shops started only recently to serve it.


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