Bulgaria is another of those places that historically have functioned as crossroads.

Located in the southeastern corner of the Balkans, Bulgaria sits at the junction of Europe and Asia. Its location has made it susceptible to invasions in the past, but it also has provided a rich culture – the country is the birthplace of the Cyrillic script.

Bulgaria is one of Europe’s oldest countries, founded in the seventh century.


Bulgaria’s culture mixes East and West, reflecting the influences of Slavs, Bulgars and Turks, as well as from ancient Greece, Rome and Byzantium. The country has a rich heritage in folk music and the visual arts. Ethnically, the nation is overwhelmingly Bulgarian, while Turks are the country’s largest ethnic minority group.


Bulgaria’s the orange one; Sofia is its capital:


Bulgaria is also the reason most of us can’t read Russian or Ukrainian:

Bulgaria functioned as the hub of Slavic Europe during much of the Middle Ages, exerting considerable literary and cultural influence over the Eastern Orthodox Slavic world by means of the Preslav and Ohrid Literary Schools. Bulgaria also gave the world the Cyrillic script, the second most widely used alphabet and sixth writing system[2] in the world, which originated in these two schools in the tenth century.


This monastery and its setting are almost enough to make one want to go here for a retreat…


Banitza recipes abound, and it sounds delicious. It’s kind of the local version of tiropita.

You can’t go to Bulgaria and not have a piece of banitza! It’s a Bulgarian national food staple. Banitza is a tasty baked pie made of filo pastry, eggs, yogurt and brined cheese. Across Bulgaria there are many regional variations of banitza. A slice of banitza can be eaten for breakfast, as a mid-afternoon snack or it can be even enjoyed as a light lunch or dinner. Banitza is often coupled with a bowl of thick natural Bulgarian yogurt, a bowl of homemade fruit compote or a glass of boza – a thick fermented drink made of wheat or millet.

Filo dough is traditional; however, I found a recipe using puff pastry sheets, which is WAY easier [7:34]:

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Music has a long, unusual history there.

Bulgarian folk music is unique in its complex harmonies and highly irregular rhythms. These kinds of rhythms, also called uneven beats or asymmetric measures, were introduced to musicologists only in 1886 when music teacher Anastas Stoyan published Bulgarian folk melodies for the first time….

Each area of Bulgaria has a characteristic music and dance style. Bulgarian folk music inspired and was used by musicians like Kate Bush and George Harrison.


There’s some terrific architecture.


Bookmark this one for summer: Shopska, the National Salad of Bulgaria:

In 1950 Bulgaria was known as the Vegetable Garden of Europe and the recipe for this salad was made to represent that. It’s arranged in layers like a pyramid and topped with the famous Bulgarian Sirene Cheese also known as Bulgarian Feta. The finished salad shows the layers white, green and red, which are the colors of the Bulgarian National flag. Every visitor and tourist falls in love with the Bulgarian cuisine and the Shopska Salad is one of the best known and loved Bulgarian dishes.

From the YouTube description; recipe for 2 servings is in the description


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Bulgarians love yogurt. A LOT.

In Bulgaria, yoghurt is everywhere. You’ll find it dolloped on falafel wraps, slathered on moussaka and lined up in supermarket refrigerators. […] People sip yoghurt drinks in the streets and dip fried courgette [zucchini] slices into yoghurt in eateries.


Yoghurt has a long history in this country. Many Bulgarians claim it was accidentally discovered here around 4,000 years ago when nomadic tribes roamed the land. The nomads carried their milk in animal skins, creating a ripe environment for bacteria to grow and cause fermentation, producing yoghurt. In all likelihood, yoghurt was discovered in this way in different places at different times, and probably originated in the Middle East and Central Asia.

However, as Elitsa Stoilova, assistant professor of ethnology at the University of Plovdiv, confirmed, “It’s true that yoghurt was part of people’s diet for centuries in the Balkan lands. […] Indeed, the Balkans is one of the many places in the world which has the specific bacteria and temperature ranges needed to naturally produce yoghurt.”


And what a setting!


Kebapche are like homemade sausages — no casings needed. I could even do this, LOL. [5:55]

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Sofia’s the place to go for museums:

Some of the most notable of [Bulgaria’s] many museums are in Sofia: the National Archaeological Institute and Museum, the National History Museum, the National Art Gallery, the Museum of Socialist Art, and the National Ethnographic Museum.


Bulgaria’s coast is on the Black Sea.

Tarator is a refreshing cucumber soup.

Tarator is a cold cucumber soup recipe from Bulgaria made with yogurt, dill, and, in my case, red pepper! This entire soup can easily be put together in a blender in 5-10 minutes… it’s so quick and easy!

From the YT description


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Roses are extremely important in Bulgaria.

The blossoming of the roses in the Karlovo and Kazanlŭk valleys is celebrated through May and June; the oil-bearing roses are collected for the production of attar of roses, an essential oil distilled from fresh petals that is exported worldwide.


The scent must be intoxicating.


Bulgarian Moussaka doesn’t use eggplant.

It is jokingly said in Bulgaria that a suitable partner must know how to make good Bulgarian moussaka. Moussaka may be considered more Greek, but the Bulgarians have their own unique recipe, which is adored throughout the country. Bulgarian moussaka substitutes the traditional eggplant found in the Greek variety with potatoes and contains minced or ground meat, egg, and sometimes mushrooms.



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The pull of history is strong.

From 1946 until 1990 daily life in Bulgaria was outwardly dominated by the socialist political system. […] Beneath the surface, however, daily life long has been dominated by a much older tradition and cultural legacy. For example, the Bulgarian family kept many of its traditional forms of organization. Many households consist of an extended family comprising parents and one of their married sons—usually the youngest—or daughters.


Wow. Gorgeous:


Stuffed vegetables of all kinds are popular in Bulgaria, and I unearthed a lot of recipes for them, especially for stuffed peppers (usually red. None of those horrid unripe peppers for us! yuck, ptui!) but in addition to meat & rice for a stuffing, there are vegetarian stuffings. This one looked particularly enticing. [6:03]

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So c’mon into the cafe and grab a cuppa…


…and a nice nosh…


…and join us!

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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