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21-2 Bulgarian cuisine (by Rumi Radenska)


This article is from the Bulgaria FAQ, by Dragomir R. Radev radev@tune.cs.columbia.edu with numerous contributions by others.

21-2 Bulgarian cuisine (by Rumi Radenska)

(by Rumi Radenska)

Bulgaria is a relatively old state. It was founded in 7th century a.d.
From that time until the 18th century Bulgarian people used to eat the usual
for Europeans food: meats, fish, bread, raw fruits and vegetables.
By the end of the 18th and especially in the 19th century Bulgarian people
developed their specific cuisine. Basic ingredients in the Bulgarian
kitchen are:

1. Meats: pork, beef, lamb, chicken, fish.

2. Dairy products: the main type of milk Bulgarians eat is plain yogurt.
They prepare it generally from cow milk, but you can get yogurt made
from sheep milk or buffalo-cow milk, which are much more tasty than cow yogurt.
Almost everyone in Bulgaria eats yogurt every day - from age of 3 months until
his/her death. There are two main kinds of cheese: feta (white cheese) and
yellow cheese. Feta is two types: cow feta and sheep feta. Bulgarians prefer
to use cow feta in cooking and to eat sheep feta. Yellow cheese is used
as in the U.S. You can buy original Bulgarian feta in Mediterranean stores
in the U.S.

3. Rice, corn, beans, lentils.

4. Vegetables: potatos, cabbage(green and red), carrots, tomatos, green peppers,
eggplants, cucumbers, garlic, zucchini, pumpkin, onions (yellow and green),
peas, celery, spinach, cauliflower, lima beans, lettuce, radishes,
turnip, gumbo, mushrooms, olives.

5. Fruits: cherries, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries,
apples, peaches, pears, plums, apricots, watermelons, melons, grapes, quinces,

6. Nuts: peanuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, chestnuts.

7. Spices: parsley, mint, savory, paprika.

8. Herbs: many different, from thyme to milfoil. They are used in cooking and
for herb teas.

All these basic ingredients are grown in Bulgaria.

By the end of the last century Bulgaria extended its economic connections with
Middle and West European countries. This way, little by little, people in
Bulgaria started to use some common European foods like pasta, mayonnaise,
cream, and also some fruits and vegetables which are not grown in the country.
Today the Bulgarian cuisine is a mixture of typical Bulgarian courses and
common for all world foods.

In the restaurants you may purchase steaks, chops, hamburgers usually roasted,
broiled or barbequed with garnish from potatos, beans, salad and Bulgarian type
of salsa called luttennitza. In the largest cities of the country there are
special restaurants for fried chicken, fish, pizza, spaghetti. In the capital
Sofia you can taste in a special restaurants German, Russian, Italian, Korean,
Vietnamese, and Japanese food. Traveling in the countryside you can always
buy near the road 'kebbabchetta' and 'kyuftetta' - Bulgarian barbequed
hamburgers with oblong or round shape.

Home cooking is more varying and depends on many factors, but the most
important one is the family cooking tradition. For example, I'm still cooking
some courses my grandmother used to cook a long time ago. Although Bulgaria is
a small country, there is a difference in cooking traditions between its North
and South parts.

A distinctive feature of Bulgarian home cooking is that you start with the
cooking of the meat and gradually adding all other ingredients. At the end of
the cooking you have completely finished the course in one sausepan. This method
saves time, especially if you work from scratch.


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