Eating and Entertainments in Bulgaria

Though Bulgarian cuisine isn’t substantially different from that of Europe, it features some local particularities, anyway. Some typically Bulgarian dishes will surely match the western tastes; among these are the broadly popular and, no doubt whatsoever, generally liked kebapcheta (a mixture of mincemeat and spices, and grilled, preferably, for immediate eating) to suit any tastes, kyufleta or meatballs (a cooking technology, much alike with that of kebapchela, but with onions and wet bread added to the mixture, described above), shishcheta (small chunks of meat, mainly pork, roasted on a skewer), parzhola (fried or grilled pork meat, much alike with the cutlets), kavarma (a rich in flavor dish of fried pork meat and vegetables, prepared as a stew desirably in earthenware pots for refined tastes), sarmi (a delicious cooked dish made of mincemeat balls with rice and spices, and wrapped in leaves of sauerkraut or vine), gyuvech (a traditional Bulgarian stew, rich in potatoes, a whole list of other vegetables and juicy junks of pork, a test for experienced housewives and irresistible when skill and soul are added to fresh ingredients when being prepared), moussaka (minced meat, potatoes or aubergines, or both, spices, mixed and stirred eggs and yogurt as a topping).

Very specific, and commonly well accepted as a starter, are the salads in Bulgaria, particularly the so called kyopoolu (baked aubergines and peppers, fresh tomatoes, garlic and parsley, mashed together to form a smooth piquant and appetizing paste or thick sauce) and shopska salata (chopped fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and grated cheese), tarator or cold Bulgarian soup (small pieces of cucumber, dill, mashed garlic and sometimes walnut kerns, all together in yoghurt; perfect and indispensable in hot summer time), soupa topchela (thick and nutritive soup of small, one-bite each, mincemeat balls). Long is the list of desserts worth mentioning, among which the crem-caramel, literally caramel cream, the famous Bulgarian yoghurt, and so on. Traditionally present on the lunch table are dairy products like the pryasno mlyako or fresh milk, various sorts of cheese (sirene) and yellow cheese (kashkaval). Vegetarians in Bulgaria are happy to enjoy meatless meals like the traditional bob (beans soup and stew) and many other dishes cooked at home or served at vegetarian restaurants.

Rich in fruits and vegetables Bulgaria’s rural economy generously brings every summer blessed crops on every Bulgarian table. Citrus fruits and fruits, traditionally grown in Bulgaria but missing in winter, are imported from abroad to substitute for the lack of home supplies. Throughout the year street vendors will offer you all sorts of kerns, the typical popcorn, dried fruits. Meat products of traditional Bulgarian manufacture include loukanka, soudzhouk, and pastarma, all of these worth having not a single bite, and this applies not only for foreign visitors.

Tap water is safe to drink, usually without precautions, almost everywhere throughout Bulgaria. Apart from that, mineral water is available on sale everywhere in plastic bottles. On offer countrywide are Coca-cola, Pepsi cola and a profusion of authentic imported or manufactured under foreign license Bulgarian soft drinks, natural fruit juices, fresh milk (always pasteurized), the typical drink of oriental origin boza (a sweetened pale-brownish and thick soft drink), Bulgarian manufacture and imported beer; coffee and tea is readily available almost everywhere.

Bulgarian wines are worldwide notorious for their recognized and long ago proven qualities; nonetheless prices of the wines in the country are more than acceptable, for example, a bottle of 75cl sells for 2 to 7 leva ($1.2 – $4.5). The rakiya, a purely Bulgarian “hard” alcoholic, brandy-like drink of long tradition, which is assumed almost as an epitome if typically national drinks are referred to, when sold in bottles of 50-75 cl will cost 3310 leva ($2 – $6), trademark spirits may cost even more, but it pays off.

Alcoholic drinks are sold everywhere; authorized vendors sell these in excise labeled bottles, so that foreign tourists are strongly advised to take care of where and what to buy to avoid frustration, or even worse (beware of imitations!).

Breakfast in a restaurant for a foreign visitor will be worth about 3-5 leva ($2 – $3), meals for lunch may cost 5-8 leva ($3 – $5), while 8-10 leva ($5 – $6) may be enough for the supper, as the costs may widely vary depending on the grade of restaurant and the season. One or more bottles of wine or spirituous drinks (strong alcohol) added to the menu will surely raise the amount of money to be paid for the bill.

Hosts of fast food kiosks are now available almost in every town throughout the country, serving snack food and quick bites with a variety of spirituous and soft drinks.

Meanwhile, almost at all of the hotels or close by, where foreign travellers and holidaymakers may choose to put up at, there are restaurants, typical national land folk-style establishments (particularly if those, suitable for dinners until late at night, are meant) or the so-called mehana (tavern, pub), numerous cafes and sladkarnitsa (pastry shops or patisseries), bars, bistros, casinos, striptease bars, foreign cuisine restaurants (Chinese, Russian, Japanese, Korean), an so on.

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