Bulgarian Cuisine

Wednesday, June 6th, 2007 at 12:00 am

Balgaria cuisineBefore you delve into Bulgarian food, it would be good to take note that Bulgaria is an old country with very rich traditions and culture that have been integrated to the preparation and cooking of their meals. The results are cuisines with rich flavors and unique tastes.

Foreign influences are also ever present in Bulgarian cuisine. Some foreign influences may be profound while others might be very subtle. Regardless, however, these influences are the result of long-lasting migrations of the tribes that are considered as the fore fathers of Bulgaria.

Some Bulgarian dishes have been closely influenced by Yugoslavia, Turkish and Greek food preparation techniques resulting to almost exotic works of food art. Dishes like "sarmi" which is vine or cabbage leaves stuffed with minced meat with rice and spices, "moussaka" and "baklava" have strong Turkey and Greek influences. Other traditional food preparations that Bulgarians are very fond and proud off are adding lots of garlic, onions, oil and spices their cuisines.

Also included in the usually tasty treats are dashes of colors from the hefty servings of fresh vegetables and fruits together with the grilled or served with sauces juicy meat. Mouth-watering vegetarian dishes is also a trademark of the typical Bulgarian dish. Bulgarians love fresh vegetables. They eat them raw, roast them or stew them with meat in big terracotta pots.

In fact, the traditional Bulgarian meal is started off with a big serving of vegetable salad and Rakiya, a Bulgarian spirit which is made by distilling fermented grapes, plums or other fruits. This part of the meal is eaten slow, some instances it can last up to an hour. Like we mentioned before, eating Bulgarian is all about adhering to traditions.

Bulgarian favorite vegetables include aubergines, beans, cabbage, carrots, corn, courgettes, cucumbers, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, peppers, potatoes, tomatoes and olives. After the salad, the main traditional courses include soups, stews, casseroles, stuffed vegetables, kebabs, spicy sausages and cheese dishes.

Some of the known desserts are the banitsa or cheese pie which melts in your mouth, and the famous Bulgarian yogurt. Yoghurt is very popular in Bulgaria and is often eaten every day. It is even said that Bulgarian yoghurt contains curative properties. Other notable desserts are pancakes, baklava, baked apples and fruits, which include apricots, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, grapes, melons, raspberries, strawberries, peaches, pears, plums and quinces.

The trick in cooking Bulgarian food is to allowing the ingredients to cook at low temperatures. By letting the food simmer, either by boiling, roasting or stewing, the nutritive qualities are retained, trapping all the flavors inside. The resulting effect is a rich tasting treat that combines all the seasonings with the main ingredient.

When serving meat, fish and vegetarian dishes, they are usually accompanied by rice or bulgar wheat.

A typical Bulgarian breakfast will consist of the cheesy pastry banitsa with spinach, leek or onion. Kozu’nak, which is another break-like food that has sugar spread on top and is a very good partner of your morning yoghurt. Also served is Bo’za which looks like chocolate milk but actually is made from millet and tastes like puffed wheat cereal.

For lunch, you have various salads to choose from like the Shopska salad which is made from cucumbers, tomatoes, and white cheese, or the Russian salad that contains potato salad with mayonnaise, or the Kartofi salad which is potato salad with vinegar. Your salads will be served with toasted sandwiches.

Dinner the Bulgarian way, on the other hand, involves a choice or combination of eating Shishche or what we know as simply shish kebab of either pork or beef meat; or kyufte which is a patty of ground pork and spices; or Kebapche which is similar to kyufte but instead is served in sausage form.

Alcohol is also a part of the Bulgarian culture and you can see people drinking alcohol any time of the day and for every occasion. Preferred beers are Zagorka and Pleven. While wines from Preslav, Novi Pazar, Suhin Dol, Melnik and Khan Krum (Shoumen Region) are the top choices.