Bulgarian Cuisine – A Melting Pot of Greek, Turkish and Slavic Traditions

Bulgarians are passionate about their country’s cuisine. It’s a melting pot of Greek, Turkish and Slavic traditions with a distinct Bulgarian flavor. This is reflected in the dishes. The Bulgarian cuisine consists of a wide variety of meat, fish and vegetarian foods, and is complemented by the country’s many healthy natural ingredients, including fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and honey.

The country has three national parks, nine natural reserves and over 2,234 protected areas. Its wild fauna includes deer, stags and wild goats, while more than 250 endemic plants are found in the Rila National Park.

A must-try is tarator – a cold soup made of watered down Bulgarian yoghurt as the base, with cucumbers, walnuts, garlic, dill, salt and pepper. It’s a summer staple, and it isn’t to be missed.

Another must-try is shkembe chorpa – boiled beans with a mix of different veggies, such as carrots, peppers, onions and tomatoes, and spices like summer savory and spearmint. It’s a hearty dish that is a hangover cure of choice.

Banitsa is a traditional Bulgarian pastry made of layers of filo dough, served for breakfast with boza or plain yogurt and often with egg and sirene cheese. The pastry can be savoury or sweet. On special occasions, such as Christmas or New Year’s Eve, people put lucky charms in the banitsa – for example coins or a small piece of dogwood branch with a bud that symbolises health and longevity.

The bulgarians also love their mezze – a mix of salads and spreads. Ovcharska salata – shepherd’s salad, is the most popular salad in Bulgaria. It is a combination of various greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, boiled eggs and white cheese. Other popular salads include shopska salata, snezhanka salata, and selska turshiya (country pickles) or tsarska turshiya (king’s pickles).

For main meals, Bulgarians favor moussaka and nadenitsa, a stuffed pork sausage. Other typical dishes include kebapche, a beef grilled burger, and lyutenitsa, a relish of grilled tomatoes, garlic and peppers.

Despite the fact that Bulgarians are generally quite conservative, they are liberal in the arts and education. In the last few years, the government has been encouraging parents to play a bigger role in their children’s life and to get more involved in extracurricular activities. However, most teenagers are still allowed to make their own choices and decide what they want to do with their lives. They also receive allowances and rarely have part-time jobs, which means they’re not always obligated to follow their parent’s advice. However, if they don’t do what their parents say, the consequences can be serious. So, they tend to listen to their parents’ advice to a certain degree. However, they are free to make their own decisions when it comes to dating and marriage.