Bulgarian cuisine is a representative of the cuisine of Southeastern Europe with some Turkish and Greek influences, but it has some unique elements. The relatively warm climate and diverse geography produce excellent growth conditions for a variety of vegetables, herbs and fruits, Bulgarian cuisine is particularly diverse.
Famous for its rich salads required at every meal, Bulgarian cuisine is also noted for the diversity and quality of dairy products and the variety of wines and local alcoholic drinks such as rakia, mastika and menta. Bulgarian cuisine features also a variety of hot and cold soups, an example of a cold soup being tarator. There are many different Bulgarian pastries as well such as banitsa.
Certain entries, salads, soups and dishes go well with alcoholic beverages and the alcohol of choice for some is Bulgarian wine.
Restaurants serving international cuisine have also made a presence in the country, offering various options such as Chinese, French, Italian, and international contemporary.
Salads made of organic vegetables are very popular in Bulgaria. Three vegetarian dishes that are commonly available are боб чорба/bob chorba (warm minty bean soup), таратор/tarator (cold cucumber yogurt soup), and Шопска салата/Shopska salad. Fresh tomatoes and peppers can be found in many markets and are some of the most flavoursome in the world. American vegetarians may be surprised to find meat inside innocent-looking breakfast pastries.
The most popular Bulgarian salad is the shopska salad, which is a mix of tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, raw or roasted peppers (preferably roasted), and sirene. Traditionally it is dressed only with salt, sunflower or olive oil and vinegrette. Another popular salads are the snow white salad, the shepherd salad and the lyutenitsa.
As a main course you can have moussaka (a rich oven-baked dish of potatoes, minced meat and white sauce), gyuvetch, sarmi (rolls with vine or cabbage leaves), drob sarma (lamb liver and lung with rice), kavarma (minced meat with tomatoes), mish-mash (fried peppers, onion and eggs).
Another thing not to be missed when travelling Bulgaria is the Lutenitsa, which is a red pepper, aubergine and tomato purée, normally eaten on bread. If you cant fınd it homemade, go for one of the vareities wıth chunks in it.
There are only two native kinds of cheese: the yellow-colored Kashkaval (Кашкавал) - more or less akin to the Dutch Gouda - and the more popular white Sirene (Сирене) - a kind of Feta cheese, similar to Greek Feta in taste. Originally made from sheep milk, it is available from cow or goat milk, or mixed.
The native Bulgarian kiselo mlyako (yoghurt) contains Lactobacilicus Bulgaricus, a bacterium which serves as the basis for active culture "plain" yoghurts in other countries. Normally made from cow or sheep milk, it can also be prepared from buffalo milk, with a remarkably stronger taste.
Being a staple, and quite favourite around the country, Bulgarian yoghurt also is an ingredient to many dishes, the most famous one being Tarator (Таратор), a cold soup made from yoghurt, water, cucumbers, garlic, dill and walnuts . A drink called Ayran - a yoghurt-water mixture with salt- is also very popular.
Traditional bakeries prepare different kinds of pastry products. Banitsa and mekitsa are the favorites. Pizza, dyuner (döner), sandwich or hamburgers are also very easy to be found at the streets. There are also many local and international fast-food chains. Also one of the best and cheapest fast food options in Bulgaria, are the kebabche and kufte, spıcy meat sausage and meatballs. In general street pizza is very tasty in Bulgaria as well.
There are more than six hundred mineral water springs around the country, so this is something you'd better taste and drink. In some regions tap water is not safe to drink.
Ayrian (yogurt, water and salt) and boza (millet ale) are two traditional Turkish non-alcoholic beverages that you can also find in Bulgaria widely.
Grape growing and wine production have a long history in Bulgaria, dating back to the times of the Thracians. Wine is, together with beer and grape rakia, among the most popular alcoholic beverages in the country.
Some of the well known local wine varieties are Mavrud, Pamid, Gamza (red dry), Melnik, Dimyat, Misket, Muskat, Pelin, Kadarka (red sweet) and Keratsuda (white dry).
Beer (bira: бира) is consumed all around the country. Excellent local varieties like Kamenitza, Zagorka, Ariana, Pirinsko and Shumensko, as well as Western European beers produced under license in Bulgaria like Tuborg, Heineken and Amstel, are readily available mostly everywhere.
Rakia (ракия) is the Bulgarian national alcoholic drink and is served neat, usually at the beginning of a meal with salads. Its powerful (40% vol), clear brandy that can be made from grape, plum or apricot. In some villages people still distill their rakia at home; it is then usually much stronger (>50% vol).
Another quite popular drink is mastika (мастика) (47% vol), a drink closely related to Greek Ouzo and Turkish Raki. It is usually drunk with ice, with water in a 1:1 mixture.
Menta (мента) is a peppermint liqueur that can be combined with mastika.
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