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Bulgarian Cuisine and Recipes

Information about Bulgarian Cooking plus lots of Bulgarian Recipes

Cooking by Country - March 2004



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Bulgaria is situated on the Balkan Peninsula in south- eastern Europe and has borders with Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south and the Black Sea to the east. Although mountainous, fertile valleys and plains separate the mountains in many areas and these together with forests, freshwater rivers, a 354km coastline and a temperate climate, make for a variety of fresh produce, seafood and livestock, both farmed and wild.


Ancient times and Influences on Bulgarian cooking


The lands which form modern day Bulgaria have been inhabited thousands of years and evidence dating back to the Palaeolithic (100,000 to 40,000 BC) have been found in many regions. There is proof that agricultural communities existed by the Neolithic Period (6,000 BC - 3,000 BC), which were among the earliest in European history, and it was during this period that Indo-European invasions overran the area with the lands eventually being occupied by Slavic peoples.


By the Bronze Age (c 1500 BC ) the southern part of modern day Bulgaria was part of Thrace, an area which spread over north-eastern Greece, southern Bulgaria, and European Turkey. This is the area where the legendary Gladiator, Spartacus was from. By this time these peoples were seasoned farmers who not only cultivated bred livestock for food but also cultivated crops, including grains and grew vines for wine-making. Everyday Thracian cuisine consisted mainly of vegetarian food.


Unleavened and leavened breads made from wheat, millet and rye were part of the diet as were fresh fruit, vegetables, yoghurt, milk, cheese and food was flavoured with and onions and garlic herbs such as parsley, thyme and savory. Fresh fish, wild game and domestic animals such as chicken, beef and pork were occasionally eaten but more so in the winter months, when it was possible to preserve it and when fresh fruit and vegetables were harder to come by. Long slow cooking was a popular method be it stewing or roasting. Historians believe these people traded with the Mediterranean, almost the whole of Europe and Asia (some 3,000 years before the Egyptians).


By the 19th century the Bulgarian people had developed their own distinct cuisine which encompassed many facets of the above-mentioned nations, in particular Greek and Turkish culinary practices. Foods from the New World such as potatoes and Aubergines (eggplants) were assimilated into everyday cooking.


Current Day Bulgarian Cuisine


Yoghurt is still one of the most common ingredients used in cooking. Herbs as mentioned above and spices such as paprika and cumin whilst often used, are usually done so in a relatively modest way leading to a somewhat more subtle taste. Staples include bread, potatoes, rice, bulgur wheat dried beans and lentils.


Another widely eaten ingredient is Bulgarian White Cheese - a brined cheese similar to Feta, which is produced preferably from sheep milk but also cow or goat milk and is and is used as an essential ingredient in many traditional dishes.


There is a definite Mediterranean feel to some recipes in the form of the ingredients used such as capsicums (sweet peppers), Aubergines (eggplants) , garlic, Courgettes (zucchini) and olives. Other European foods such as pasta, mayonnaise and cream have also gained popularity.


The cooking of foods on a low heat survives from its earliest history with many of the stews or casseroles being cooked and served in a lidded brown crock called a "gyuvech" which literally means "earthenware dish". This method ensures flavoursome, nutritious and tender eating.


The Bulgarian way of eating today is similar to that of many other European countries. Breakfast is usually a light meal consisting of cheese, fruit and inevitably, yoghurt. Lunch usually is served at midday and often includes soup or salad, followed by meat or fish accompanied by a hot vegetable. Dinner is usually eaten around 7-8pm and is similar to Lunch, a main course of meat, fish or poultry plus vegetable accompaniments, but more substantial portions. Stewed fruit is very popular for dessert and bread is eaten with all meals.



Bulgarian Recipes - Click here for lots of Bulgarian Recipes


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