Wednesday, 22 July 2015
If you are out and about and just fancy a quick bite to eat, then just follow your nose. It will lead you to either a skara stand or a kebab stall, quite often both. From the skara stall you can get kebapche and kyufte (sausages and meatballs are the easiest way to describe them). Quite often they seem to have been a bit heavy handed with the Cumin as it can be a bit overpowering). I am quite partial to a donner kebab, and it is nothing like the Friday night specials in the UK. These are basically a meal on their own, meat, chips, salad, garlic dressing, and chilli sauce in a flatbread wrap. Or there is always the ever popular pizza, but they are always much better in a pizzeria.
Once the weather starts to cool down the heavier meals begin to appear. One of my favourites is something called a Kavarma, each region seems to have its own special recipe, but often it is a hearty meat and vegetable stew, which has been marinaded and slowly cooked before being served in an earthenware pot, sometimes with an egg on top. Something similar is a Gyuvech, often a vegetable stew, but can sometimes also contain meat, so it might be a good idea for any vegetarians to check first before ordering.
Some cooking styles which you might see on a menu, decoded for you,
Baked - Изпечен
Braised - Задушен or Запечен
Fried - Пържен or Зьпържен на Тиган
Grilled - на Скара or на Грил
Roasted - Пекан or Запечен
Simmered - сварен or на слаб огън
Smoked - пушен
Sour - кисел
Spicy - лют
Steamed - Задушен or на пара
Stuffed - Пълнен
Sweet - Сладък
Toasted - Препечен
Saturday, 4 July 2015
The food here is so much healthier for us too. Much of it is home grown, and actually tastes like food, unlike the mass produced stuff in the UK supermarkets. Those who actually know me, will remember that I do enjoy my food. It has previously been said that I can actually eat my own body weight in pizza, and yes I do have a sweet tooth. In the UK I wasn't what could be described as a salad eater, I could never really see the point of limp lettuce and watery tomatoes, but here I have been known to eat a salad on my own without pushing it round a plate hoping that it would magically disappear. There is something satisfying about eating something which you, or one of your neighbours, has grown, not to mention the added bonus of it actually tasting how it is meant to be. I still don't eat fish, but I will have a go at tucking in to most things, and in the 7 years I think that I have only had to admit defeat with 2 things.
As I previously mentioned, there seems to be something for everyone here. To the West, and running through the width of the country there are mountains, and foothills. To the East there is the coast and the Black Sea. The Northern border is made by the River Danube, and to the South more mountains separating Bulgaria from Greece and Turkey. Everywhere you look you can see an ever changing scenery, native wildlife, insects, birds and plants abound. The seasons are all distinct from each other, the lush greens of Spring after the chill of the Winter months. The heat of the Summer giving way to the welcome russet tones of Autumn. Small wonder that my wife likes painting this wonderful country.
For such an old country, there is always plenty of history to immerse yourself in. With the new road systems which are being constructed, hardly a week goes by where they haven't unearthed a previously unknown necropolis, or some other wonder. Just consider that every step you take an ancient Thracian, Roman or Ottoman could have once walked before. Unfortunately this does mean that grave robbers might have been about, and that various treasures may have been smuggled out of the country. New discoveries are being made all of the time, and the earliest known cache of Thracian gold artifacts was found here in Bulgaria. The Bulgarians have every right to feel proud of their country's history. It might not always have been an easy life for those living in what is now Bulgaria, but the history has helped to make them into the people who they are today.
There are also various oddities to be found in Bulgaria, such as various 'Vampire' graves which have recently been unearthed. Or there is the monument to the Bulgarian Communist Party at Buzludzha. Near to Ardino, you can find the Devil's Bridge (Дяволски мост) as it spans the River Arda. Folklore and tales can be found in all regions throughout Bulgaria, some being easier to find than others, but all well worth searching for. Sometimes it does make me wonder just how so many wonders are crammed into just one country. From the natural to the man made, there is always something to see or do here in this wonderful country. Whether it be skiing in the Winter, hiking in the Summer sunshine or just enjoying time spent with friends you can only have a quiet day in Bulgaria if you actually want one.
Hopefully this has given you a small insight why I consider myself privileged to live here. There are some things which irritate, but the pros far outweigh the cons. So if you have never been to Bulgaria before, why not give it a try? Avoid the out and out tourist destinations, meet the real Bulgarians, discover the history, enjoy the beauty, sample the local food and drink, and you will not be disappointed.