Food & Drink - Information on some traditional Bulgarian dishes.
If you are invited to someone's home or choose a good traditional restaurant you'll be able to sample what's best about Bulgarian cuisine; plenty of fresh vegetables, eaten raw, roasted or stewed with meat in terracotta. Lots of garlic, onions, oil and spices.
Bulgarians like their salads - a salad and rakia (Bulgarian spirit/schnapps, usually made from grapes) are the obligatory start to the meal. Be warned, this stage of the meal can be a very drawn-out process lasting up to an hour.
Some Typical Dishes:
Banitsa- flaky dough and cheese pastry, sometimes with spinach, leek or onion, one of the most commonly available, best in the morning when it's fresh, not microwaved in a bar.
Kozu'nak- bread-like, with sugar spread on top - goes very well with yoghurt.
Bo'za- tastes like puffed wheat cereal, in brown liquid form. Sometimes looks like chocolate milk to foreigners, so it's better to ask before buying it. According to veteran expatriates it's much better with a shot of vodka or whisky in it.
Salads - sa'lati Shopska salad- cucumbers, tomatoes, and white cheese. Russian salad- potato salad with mayonnaise. Kartofi salad- potato salad with vinegar.
Toasted sandwiches- bread and meat or cheese cooked in a press with a selection of fresh salads.
Shishche- shish kebab, pork or beef.
Kyufte- ground pork and spices in patty form.
Kebapche- same as kyufte in sausage form.
Alcohol is very much a part of Bulgarian culture. It is drunk by many at any time and for every occasion.
Beer-Bulgarian beer is palatable but probably the least interesting Bulgarian beverage, best when the weather is hot. Zagorka and Pleven are preferred brands. Make sure it is "studena" (cold).
Wine-high quality, low price; wines from Preslav, Novi Pazar, Suhin Dol, Melnik and Khan Krum (Shoumen Region) are regarded as the best, Sungularski Misket (dry white) is one preferred brand. There are hundreds of Bulgarian folk songs about red wine, and only one about white: "why can't the white wine be red?" Red is drunk in the winter, white in the summer, both with almost everything.
Rakia-Bulgarian brandy, the national drink; often quite strong; said to cure stomach ailments, cancer and hangovers; grape is most common, there are plum and peach varieties.
Here is a quite fun link to a Bulgarian Food web site that was written as a school project: