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The Best Foods to Experience While in Bulgaria

Bulgarian cuisine is typically Slavic in nature, with a heavy focus on rich, filling foods that can keep you warm during the winter months. What surprises many first-time visitors is the sheer diversity of Bulgarian dishes, ranging from meaty stews to colourful salads, wholesome baked goods and delicious desserts.

Many visitors who come to Bulgaria on package holidays may find themselves sticking to resorts and tourist spots, but it’s really worth stepping out of your comfort zone and sampling Bulgarian cuisine. Here’s a quick introduction to the food so you know what to expect:

To start: refreshing Bulgarian salads

Bulgarian meals usually begin with a starter, typically a salad. Tomatoes, peppers, cabbage and cucumbers form the basis for many salads, with lettuce being uncommon. Snezhanka is an interesting salad served in summer, made from cucumbers and yogurt, spiced with healthy doses of pepper, salt and lemon juice.

Soups can also be used as a starter, particularly in rural areas and during the winter months. Bean soups and fish soups form staple starters in many regions, with variations on these dishes being handed down from family to family in different regions.

Main meals: meat and more meat!

Meat is the staple food, and forms a critical part in many Bulgarian dishes. Grilled meats are common, with meatballs, sausages and steaks all grilled to perfection! Stews such as chomlek, kapama and kavarma form large parts of meals served all over the country and are also popular in restaurants in the major cities. Stews are usually served in earthenware bowls or pots, and in terms of heat, you can ask your server as some stews are spicier than others.

Cheverme is a trademark Bulgarian dish consisting of an entire lamb roasted on a spit. Since one person can't possibly eat the entire thing, preparing and sharing a cheverme is a social occasion as well as a delicacy. Flat sausage is another uniquely Bulgarian dish that usually served grilled. Meat is also served in rolled-up cabbage or vine leaves, which have been stewed, and are a popular item in many traditional restaurants.

The importance of starches in Bulgarian cuisine

Starches are also served in novel ways, with cheese and meat-filled pastries being common in bakeries and off street vendors in the cities. These filled pastries are called banitsa, and their breaded cousins filled with cheese are called sirenka. They taste best when served fresh, and the best place to get them is from a well-reputed bakery.

Potatoes, and potato-based dishes are heavily reminiscent of their Slavic counterparts, with potato stew and fried potatoes being ubiquitous. Patatnik, or potato pancakes are popular, especially when served with stews.

Delicious desserts: halva and garash

No culinary tour is complete without dessert, and the Bulgarians do not fail to impress. Turkish influences are heavy in Bulgarian desserts, with halva and turkish delight being very easy to find. Bulgarians also have their traditional deserts such as garash, which is a cake made from walnut flour and covered in chocolate icing. Bulgarians also have a dessert very similar to baklava, made with phyllo pastry and smothered in honey and chocolate.

Bulgarian cuisine is flavourful and hearty, as it mixes various influences while adding its own flair to produce a cuisine as unique as the country itself.
Here are some traditional Bulgarian recipes if you’re interested in making some of the dishes at home.

Bio: John Hendry is a professional writer and an avid traveller. He loves to explore exotic destinations around the world.