Bulgarian Cuisine – A Melting Pot of Mediterranean and Arabic Flavors

Bulgaria is a southeastern Balkan country that was once occupied by Romans, Greeks, and Turks so there’s no shortage of incredible cuisine here. From savory meat dishes to gastronomic desserts, the cuisine of Bulgaria is a melting pot of Mediterranean and Arabic flavors that will leave your taste buds in heaven.

Bulgaria’s cured meats are among its best known culinary delights. Its most popular variety, lukanka, is made from pork and beef meat seasoned with spices then stuffed into the casing of dried cow’s intestines and allowed to dry over several weeks. The resulting cured sausage is chewy, salty and packed full of flavor. It is often served with a glass of wine for lunch or dinner and makes an excellent snack for picnics.

Other Bulgarian foods worth trying include kufte, flat meatballs that are grilled or pan-fried until crispy. These tasty spheres are usually filled with meat such as beef, veal, or lamb. They can also be vegetarian with ingredients like rice and onions added. Another scrumptious Bulgarian dish is lozovi sarmi, which resembles an odd-looking uncut nori seaweed-wrapped sushi roll and is prepared the same way. This delectable meal is packed with a variety of wholesome ingredients including white rice, tomatoes, and onions.

The cuisine of Bulgaria is heavily influenced by its long history of occupying lands and regions that were once home to various ethnicities. Many of the food and drinks are rooted in traditional recipes from different areas of the country and have been adapted to fit the Bulgarian palate. The cuisine is also heavily influenced by the country’s geographic location on the fringes of the Balkans.

Bulgarians have a rich culture that is celebrated throughout the year. New Year’s Eve is observed with traditional foods and traditions that are intended to bring luck for the coming year. The pre-Christian holiday Baba Marta on 1 March welcomes spring and includes the giving of martinitsas, good luck charms made from red and white threads. Other holidays include the Day of Bulgarian Liberation from the Ottoman Empire on 3 March, Labor Day on 1 May, and the celebration of St. Cyril and Methodius, creators of the Cyrillic alphabet on 24 May.

Generally, meals are eaten together as a family although this can vary depending on individual schedules. Siblings are treated as equal authority figures and are expected to take on responsibilities that help the household run smoothly. It is a sign of respect in Bulgaria to look people directly in the eye while conversing. This close physical contact may be why it is also considered a good idea to give hugs and kisses as a way to greet others. It is also important to maintain a respectful distance when interacting with strangers.