Bulgaria is a country with a rich cultural heritage and a dynamic lifestyle. With its roots in the merging of Bulgars, a Central Asian Turkic people and Slavs, it has preserved many traditions, festivals and customs throughout the ages, showing great respect for its natural environment.
The country has a vast variety of plants and animals, with 250 endemics. Nature is protected and the countryside is dotted with forests, wild fruits and herbs. It is home to 13,000 species of birds, animals and fish.
A wide range of meats and a wealth of fresh vegetables make up the Bulgarian diet. Pork is particularly popular and has a juicy, melt-in-the-mouth quality. You’ll find everything from thinly sliced dry-cured sausages called ‘lukanka’ to large chops plucked straight from the barbecue.
There are a few different types of sausage, but one that stands out from the rest is the ‘lukanka’ – a flattened salami made with a mixture of pork and veal, seasoned with cumin and salt. This sausage is hung to dry for about 40-50 days and then cut into chunks before being served cold.
Another traditional dish in Bulgaria is kavarma – baked meat (mostly pork) and vegetable mixture in a traditional earthenware bowl, which is then topped with spices and herbs. You’ll often see it on the menus of restaurants in rural villages.
Peppers stuffed with rice and meat, similar to Turkish dolma is also a common dish. Originally, this recipe was introduced in Bulgaria by Ottoman soldiers in the Balkans.
Vegetarians won’t be left out of the Bulgarian dining experience either – bob chorba is a bean soup that is very popular. You’ll often come across dishes such as gyuvech, which is a mashed fried cabbage based dish, and sache, which is a vegetarian sache made from potato, beans and cheese – both of which you will love!
In addition to the meaty cuisine, Bulgaria has a plethora of salads and desserts that will delight your palate. The country is known for its delicious, hearty and satisfying meals – and if you’re looking to try something a little lighter then the Bulgarian salad, kasha, is an excellent choice.
Traditionally, the Bulgarian diet includes plenty of fruit, vegetables and dairy products. It is a great way to get your daily intake of vitamins and minerals.
As a result, Bulgaria has the lowest percentage of obesity in Europe and the highest per capita consumption of fruits, vegetables and milk. The country is also famous for its ‘black bread’ – a dense, dark-coloured bread that is popular for breakfast and lunch in Bulgaria.
The country’s cuisine is a rich mix of traditional and modern. It combines both eastern and western influences, and there are many variations on the same dishes.
It is important to note that Bulgarian, which is a South Slavic language, is closely related to Macedonian and Serbo-Croatian. It also shares a number of lexical items with Russian and Greek.