WHAT I HAVE LEARNT... AFTER FIVE YEARS IN BULGARIA

by Jane Keating*; photography by Anthony Georgieff

It really is possible to have breakfast in Kosovo and have lunch in Istanbul

jane keating.jpg

"How about a fresh before we go to the fitness?" sounds like perfectly good English.

I find myself saying "I really love the nature here."

Hiking in the mountains must be the secret of health and longevity ‒ we sometimes feel we're the youngest (and slowest) people on the trail, as octogenarians power past us.

It is possible to eat tomato and cucumber for breakfast.

It is also possible to spend three or four hours over a meal and it is OK not to order the whole meal in one go. Unless you like having chips with your starter.

Two sittings in an evening is a barbaric Western restaurant habit.

Bulgarian red wine just keeps getting better and better.

Never judge a fruit or vegetable by its appearance. Misshapen pink tomatoes no Western supermarket would consider stocking can be the best thing you've ever eaten.

What I consider to be leaving a safe distance between me and the car in front is perceived by Bulgarian drivers as ample space to squeeze into.

Bulgarians really use their crash barriers.

I get a kick out of telling people "We had breakfast in Kosovo and lunch in Istanbul." (One is a village near Asenovgrad and the other – a great Turkish restaurant mid-way between Sofia and Plovdiv)

Lime trees in early summer smell wonderful.

No home should be without a chushkopek**.

Chushkopek

Chushkopek

What I'd like to know...

How do the bee keepers direct their bees so they don't mix up the lime/acacia/herb honey?

Where do some young women find room for all their internal organs?

What is the origin of pizza with ketchup and mayo?

 

*Jane Keating spent five years in Bulgaria (2005-2010) and she worked with Vagabond from Day One (back in 2006). Sadly for us, Jane is leaving for her native Ireland now, but she will continue to work for this magazine as a "distant" editor from there. Slán leat, Jane!

**The chushkopek is the great Bulgarian invention, comparable in significance to pizza in Italy, onion soup in France and, well, fish and chips in Britain. It is a home appliance to bake peppers in. It comes in several varieties: a single chushkopek (one pepper at a time), a double-barrelled one and even a four-barrelled one. An intriguing variety is the three-barrelled chushkopek, popularly referred to as a "Mercedes" because viewed from above it resembles the Daimler-Chrysler threepointed star.

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