I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to understand many restaurant menus in Sofia without knowing much Bulgarian. Kyufte, kavarma, sarmi, shkembe and baklava were among the dishes familiar to me, coming from Turkey. But discovering new tastes in delightful Bulgarian cuisine proved to be equally pleasant. I knew from the very beginning that I was going to enjoy Bulgaria's food and so far I haven't been disappointed.
For the Bulgarians, Tarator is one of those dishes, like Shopska salad and tripe soup, which has always been a matter of national pride. The Bulgarians consider it a sin if anybody is oblivious to the existence of their wonderful Tarator and a sacrilege if they want to eat it warm.
My husband and I have been in Sofia for about five months now and we've already discovered many fine places to wine and dine. And we have also learnt a lot about Bulgarians through our culinary expeditions.
"Under new management". The inference intended in this sign is that the food, service and whole ambience will be better than whatever existed before, and the sign itself illustrates the impermanence of reputations in the restaurant business. However, the places mentioned below have stood my personal test of four or five years, and hopefully will continue za godini.
Culturally, a short working lunch in a restaurant is something of an anathema to Bulgarians. The two ideas do not sit together easily – an agenda squeezed into time-limited eating. This can engender the same feeling as when you see your favourite novel badly adapted into a film. The key elements are missing or wrongly portrayed; the soul of the book is lost.
Whether it be suckling pig in Kovachevitsa, caviar by the Black Sea, calf's head in Sofia, or chicken's bottoms in Kozloduy, Bulgaria has it all and more, as we discovered after more than two years of careful research in this country of far-flung culinary delights.
Every nation's folklore probably has a special section of proverbs relating to eating and drinking. The Bulgarians are no exception, though the essence of our wisdom throughout the centuries has given expression more to our problems than to our everyday pleasures. Anyway, let me try to take you on a culinary tour of this country with the help of some lesser known sayings from a "people's guidebook".
Restaurants are like women: I remain loyal to them unless they start cheating on me. There have been but a few restaurants that have. My first impressions may be excellent and I begin going there regularly, but after they catch on and have enough patrons, they change.
70 years ago, on 10 March 1943, Bulgaria's pro-Nazi government decided to defy Berlin and halt the deportation of Bulgaria's 50.000 Jews. This was down to the actions of one man - Dimitar Peshev. Just two years later he faced Communist justice and found himself on trial for his life. His niece Kaluda Kiradjieva remembers