Food

From the mere establishment of the Bulgarian state began the merge of the culinary traditions of Thracians, Slavs and Proto-Bulgarians and the formation of the national cuisine. Each ethnic group joined with its own culinary traditions.

The culinary traditions were shaped under the influence of the geographic positioning of the state, the social and economic development, the religions that were spread on the territory, the specifics of the local agriculture, the seasons, the existing instruments and so on.

Thracians, Greeks, Romans, Proto-Bulgarians, Slavs and many other tribes that inhabited the territory of present Bulgaria, influenced the culinary tradition from ancient times. Archaeological data shows that the ingredients of ancient cuisine in our lands included traditions vegetables – cabbage, carrot, beets, turnips, onions, garlic; different kinds of meat – sheep, goat, pork, beef, bird, game; cereals – millet, oats, barley, rye, wheat; as well as beans, beans, lentils, peas, vetches.

Later on, during the 16 – 17 centuries, were introduced vegetables and animals, discovered in America – the unknown up to that period beans, pepper, tomato, potato, corn, sunflower, turkey meat were introduced. From the east came rice, aubergine, various specific seasonings and ingredients, such as black pepper, ginger, oregano, cinnamon and others.

Due to the proximity with the Orient, the Oriental technologies for food production are also present in Bulgaria and the names of some meals, even with modified recipes, carry the same names – moussaka, gyuvetch, imambayalda, kyopoolu, pilaf, baklava, kadaif and many others.

After the Liberation were introduced influences from Europe – most of them interpreted in specific ways – as far as the ingredients, the technology of cooking and serving were concerned.

After 1940 and particularly after 1965, many of the main ingredients disappear from the market and were replaced by others, which are a part of national cuisine up to this day. Thus for example butter was replaced by lard, olives – by pickles,  dry eggs – by milk mayo. Regardless of the deficit during the communist regime (due to the development of tourism and the idea for introducing trade marks), appeared emblematic for contemporary Bulgarian cuisine product names, such as “Shopska salad”, “Kavarma Radomir style“, „Bean soup monastery style“, „Panagyurski eggs“, „ Peppers börek “ and others, all imposed by the nomenclature of the national travel agent – Balkantourist.

The transition in more recent years called for changes – for example modifications of the “Shopska salad”, which are called “Shepherd’s salad”, “Miller’s salad“; eggs, peppers, yellow cheese are added to kavarma – which is done to please the tourists. The recipes are distanced from the ancient traditions, but practically achieve the future development of the national cuisine.

One particular characteristic of Bulgarian cuisine is that most ingredients in one meal are cooked at the same time. This is particularly true for baked/roasted meals. The explanation is really simple – in the past there were just a few families with ovens. Most carried their ready to be roasted meals to communal ovens. Even the introduction of modern technologies after the Second World War, this tradition persevered until the end of 80s of the last century.

Another characteristic particularity is the insertion of a lot of fresh or preserved vegetables, which are cooked together with the meat.

Compared to other cuisines, Bulgarian cuisine uses spicy ingredients, such as onions, garlic, red and black pepper, bay leaf. Also used are strong aromas and aromatic combinations with mint, basil, rosemary, fenugreek[1].

 

Shopska salad

A shopska salad, source: By Biso – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5494988

The vegetables – tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, peppers – are usually diced and salted, followed by a light dressing of sunflower oil (or olive oil, which is less authentic), which are occasionally complemented by vinegar. Lastly, the vegetables are covered in a thick layer of grated or diced white cow cheese. This salad is often consumed as an appetiser with rakia.

 

Kavarma

Pork kavarma, sources

This is a baked meal that is baked. The word has Turkish origin and means “fried”. The contents are meat (pork and/or chicken), onions, seasonings, peppers, red pepper, salt. Everything is placed in a big pot, covered if possible, baking for a minimum of 3 hours.

 

Staffed pepper

Staffed peppers, source

This meal requires the following: Preparation of a filling – from white cheese (150 gr.) and 2 eggs that are mashed together. The peppers should  be baked and then peeled. The filling has to be inserted – 2 spoonfuls per pepper. Then you need to prepare two bowls – in the first one you need to beat 2 eggs and in the second you have to put some flour – 4 spoonfuls. Each pepper is dipped first in the eggs, then in the flour. Immediately after you place the pepper in a pan with hot oil. The peppers should be fried about 1-2 minutes each.

 

Eggs panagyurski style

Eggs panagyurski style, source

Heat up salted water (1 liter) with 1 spoonful of vinegar. As soon as the mixture starts boiling remove the deep pan from the heater and break the eggs (6). Return the pot on the heater and after a few minutes remove the eggs with a large spoon that will allow the excessive fluids to be drained. In a pan you heat up butter (1 spoonful)  and red pepper (1 coffee spoon) and stir. The eggs are served in a portion plate and a covered with minced garlic mixed with 200 gr. of yogurt and after that with the oil. Fresh dill on top will make it even better.

 

[1] Bulgarian cuisine

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