A fusional Slavic language with elements of Eastern European and Middle Eastern languages, Bulgarian is written in the Cyrillic alphabet. Contemporary Standard Bulgarian is a highly inflected language, and verbs show case, number, and gender agreement. Present, past, and future tenses are expressed in simple, compound, and complex forms. Bulgarian has a wide range of moods, including indicative, imperative, conditional, subjunctive, and the renarrative. The word order is subject-verb-object. Constituents that carry less emphasis are placed at the beginning of the sentence, while those that receive more attention appear near the end.
A rich cultural heritage has left its mark on modern Bulgarian cuisine, music, and literature. Many of these traditions continue to be celebrated and enjoyed by locals today, a fact evident in the wide variety of dishes on Bulgarian menus. In addition, the country has an abundance of beautiful natural landscapes, including mountains, rivers, and the Black Sea.
Bulgarian cuisine has also been influenced by a large number of foreign influences. In recent years, foreign restaurants have introduced Bulgarians to a wide array of foods from other cultures. Nevertheless, Bulgarians consider certain foreign dishes uncharacteristic of the nation and have not adopted them as part of their culture.
One of the most distinctive Bulgarian foods is turshia, an appetizer made from vegetables like peppers, cauliflower, and cabbage that is pickled in jars to keep them fresh throughout the fall and winter. Almost the equivalent of Italy’s giardiniera, turshia is often served as an appetizer or to complement heftier meat dishes, such as sarmi (stuffed peppers) for Christmas Eve, and carp or roast lamb for Gergyovden, St. George’s Day, on May 6th.
Another popular Bulgarian food is tarator, a chilled soup typically served in the spring and summer. This refreshing mix of cucumbers, walnuts, and garlic is complemented with dill and vinegar for a zesty taste.
Other unique Bulgarian foods include liutenitsa, a chutney-like dish that contains roasted veggies, including eggplants, tomatoes, and peppers, that are then ground into a thick paste and seasoned with spices. It’s usually eaten on a slice of bread with white cheese or as a dip for vegetables.
When dining with a Bulgarian family, it is customary to bring a gift for the host. Whether it’s liquor, wine, chocolates, or flowers, be sure to bring something that the host will enjoy.
It is important to be aware of the idiosyncratic nature of Bulgarian communication. Bulgarian friends tend to speak more bluntly than some people might expect, and their feedback can be direct to the point of being hurtful. In addition, many Bulgarians are overly sensitive about floor cleanliness and will take off their shoes immediately upon entering a friend’s house.
Driving in Bulgaria is dangerous, especially late at night. Aggressive drivers and a high percentage of older model cars on the roads combine to create an unsafe environment. In the event of a crash, you should seek refuge in a police station or hospital as soon as possible to ensure your safety.