Bulgarian cuisine shares many of the not-so-vegetarian-friendly characteristics with other Balkan and Eastern European Countries. However, it is also famous for its variety of soups, colorful salads and high-quality dairy products (sorry, vegans). Sirene (сирене), the most popular cheese, is one of the most popular ingredients in Bulgarian cuisine, and is used in everything from salads to pastries. If you desire a true Bulgarian experience, sip a small glass of rakia while preparing a meal.
*Disclaimer: Rakia is not for everyone. We couldn’t handle sipping it, so we drank it as a shot. If you choose to do this, we deny any responsibility for the aftereffects.
Dishes to Try
Shakshuka: fried eggs and white cheese in a spicy tomato chili sauce.
Tarator [ таратор]: a cold soup made with yogurt, cucumber, walnut, dill, a bit of oil, and water. It tastes like a liquified version of Greek tzaziki (link).
Banitsa [Баница]: a popular filo pastry filled with layers of egg, crushed cheese (sirene and feta), and yogurt. The filling can also be made with spinach, leeks, sauerkraut, or other vegetables, but cheese is the most common. The dish is very similar to börek and many other variants across Europe.
Gyuvetch: a hearty stew, traditionally made with beef but easily substituted with seasonal vegetables. Bulgarians prefer to allow the natural flavors of the ingredients to blend together through slow-cooking, as opposed to adding extra herbs and spices. It’s cooked on a stove first, then baked in the oven for a final “roasty” flavor.
*Important note: In Bulgaria, the Cyrillic alphabet is used.
**Even more important note: Nodding your head means, “No”, while shaking it left to right means, “Yes”. Practice it.
I am vegetarian-Аз съм вегетарианец – Az sam vegetarianetz [ahz sim veh-geh-tar-ee-ah-nitz]
I am vegan-Аз съм строг вегетарианец – Az sam strog vegetarianetz [ahz sim stroke veh-geh-tar-ee-ah-nitz]
I do not eat meat or fish-Не ем мясо и рыба – Ne yam meso i riba [nee yem meso ee ree-ba]
I eat fish-Аз ям риба – Az yam riba [ahz sim ree-ba]
I eat eggs and cheese-Ям яйца и сирене – Yam yaitza i sirene [yim ya-it-za ee see-reen-ya]
I do not eat eggs or cheese-Не ям яйца и сирене – Ne yam yaitza i sirene [nee yum yah-it-za ee see-reen-ya]
Do you have any meals without meat?-Имате ли ястия без месо? -Imate li yastiya bez meso? [ee-mate lee yah-stee-yah bez may-so]
Can I have this without meat?-Може ли това да е без месо? – Moje li tova da e bez meso? [moh-yay lee toh-vah da ay bez may-so]
Please-моля- molya [mohl-ya] Thank you-благодаря: blagodarya[blah-go-da-REE-ya]
and, as always…
Cheers!-наздраве- nazdrave [nah-zdrah-vay]
A special thanks to Daniela Dedelyanova for helping with translations and pronunciations, as well as for her hospitality as a hostess.
Image credit for the thumbnail image goes to Visha Angelova which can be found at http://www.flickr.com/photos/dewfall/2576148684/