They say that the best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. It’s true but I would also say that the same thing goes for travelers. My Bulgaria trip last December and January was filled with awesome and heartwarming activities and.. foods. I would say that experiencing the Bulgarian foods was one of the highlights of my trip because for me, you’ll never fully appreciate one’s culture once you tasted what’s cooking in their kitchen. So to give you an idea, here are my top 5 foods to eat in Bulgaria.
5. Lutenitsa and Sirene
This combo food makes it to the fifth spot on my top 5 foods to eat in Bulgaria simply because I just love dipping my sirene to lutenitsa. What is a lutenitsa? Lutenitsa is a kind of spicy dip/sauce usually made of chopped tomatoes, peppers, onions, and other spices. It also comes in variations like the consistency of the dip, the size of the cuts, and etc. It is most popular among Bulgarian, Macedonian and Siberian cuisines. On the other hand, sirene is a brined white cheese made out of the sheep’s milk, cow’s milk, goat’s milk and even a combination of these types of milk. You can almost find it in every dining table in Bulgaria and among the Balkan region.
4. Bulgarian Rice Pudding
One time, I asked for rice and Grandma Radka prepared a rice pudding for me! It’s not really my favorite but I still think Filipinos (and Asians) should try this Bulgarian rice pudding. Now that I thought of it, it is kinda related to the “pospas” or “champorado” in the Philippines only that the taste is different. Its distinct flavor makes it interesting and a must on your food list. Preparing the Bulgarian Rice Pudding is just easy as you only need short-grain rice, butter, milk, cinnamon, sugar and a little bit of Grandma Radka’s kitchen skills. I miss you grandma!
Now every time we talk about this food, my memories bring me back to my first Christmas and New Years Eve in Bulgaria. Banitsa, a Bulgarian pie, is usually one of the highlights of the holidays. For me, it reflects the Bulgarian’s interesting way of celebrating Christmas and New Year in their household. How does it go? First of all, after the banitsa is baked, a piece of paper/ card is pinned on top of each slice before presenting it to the dining table. Then, the family members gather around the dining table and pick a slice of banitsa. Everyone then takes a turn reading what fortune was written on the paper they selected.
A banitsa can be filled with cheese, with pumpkin or with apple-walnut. Of these three, my favorite food to eat in Bulgaria is the cheese banitsa.
2. Bulgarian stuffed cabbage Rolls
The first time I tasted these cabbage rolls was when we went to Chepelare to ski in the nearby town of Pamporovo. It reminded me so much of the Korean stuffed cabbage rolls so I didn’t hesitate to try it… and guess what? I just love it! I ate it together with lutenitsa and sirene. These cabbage rolls are stuffed with rice, ground meat, and spices. If ever you visit during the winter, these stuffed cabbage rolls are also said to be a Bulgarian comfort food during this freezing season.
I HAVE NO WORDS FOR THIS FOOD and this deserves to be on top of my list. Most especially when served with lutenitsa and bread, a kebapche makes a perfect meal. You can find this almost everywhere if you want to eat in Bulgaria and thank heavens they are very cheap too! A kebapche is a minced meat with spices. It literally means “little kebab”. You can also add variation to the sides like fries and sirene which makes it more interesting.
What else should I eat in Bulgaria?
By this point, you might be saying, “Okay! Interesting but what else can I eat in Bulgaria?”
While the food choices listed above are the Bulgarian foods that I tried, there are also foods that I have not tasted but were recommended by my boyfriend. He said that they are very popular in Bulgaria.
Well then, let’s give them a try…
Shopska salad: This popular food is a widely recognized Bulgarian dish not only among the Balkans but in Europe. It is a cold salad made of diced tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions, parsley and sirene.
Shepherd’s salad: This is another variety of the shopska salad to eat in Bulgaria but this time, we add eggs, mushrooms, and ham. Shepherd’s salad is also called as “Ovcharska salad” in Bulgaria.
Gyuvech: Said to be one of the most famous Bulgarian dishes, the Gyuvech consists of vegetables, meat, and an egg. It is cooked and served in a pot called “gyuvech”– where it got its name. You cannot only enjoy these in the restaurants but it is one of the easiest dishes to make at home too.
Tarator: Another name for this dish is the Bulgarian cold cucumber soup. It is easy to prepare since it only consists of cucumber, yogurt, garlic, water, and vegetable oil. The interesting about it is it can be an appetizer, a dip or a refreshment after a meal. The tarator is served cold so it is preferable during the summer.
Sudjuk: This is a dry and spicy sausage not only popular in the Balkan region but also in Central Asia. You can find this readily-packed in the local markets but some families also prefer their homemade Sudjuk.
So there you have it, folks! The next time you pay a visit to Bulgaria, be sure to try one or two of these foods and I’m sure you will love them. If this post made your mouth water, why don’t you pin this image and share it with your friends and let them know of my top 5 foods to eat in Bulgaria?