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THE BULGARIAN DISHES

The Bulgarian dishes, specialties and wines are a gastronomical temptation for everyone having felt their taste and inimitable flavour.

Served in skillfully painted earthenware, in wrought copper dishes or flat wooden plates, which are traditionally called tanourcheta, the Bulgarian recipes are a virtuoso combination of superb taste, high-quality processing of the products and aesthetics of serving.

Generously arranged on a motley woven tablecloth, focusing the colours of the Bulgarian natural environment and of the rainbow after rain, the dishes of the Bulgarian cuisine are part of the multicoloured picture of the Bulgarian national culture.

The national cuisine of the Bulgarians reflects age-old culinary experience, while at the same time it combines creatively the exquisite piquancy of the East with the softness of the European specialties. Bequeathed by long past times, the attractive cooking equipment, like embers, a fireplace, an earthen oven, typical plates like earthenware pots, ewers, baking dishes, copper frying pans, hot stone, brick, etc, is striking to this day. The specific taste of a great number of Bulgarian dishes results from the way of their cooking. Some are left to simmer (slowly, on low fire, they boil with little water); others are first boiled and then roasted. The slow roasting in earthenware vessels at moderate temperature lends that unique taste, impressing many a tourist.

Featuring among the traditional Bulgarian dishes are beans in a jar, stomna [ewer] kebap [meat pieces with vegetables], haidoushki kebap, gorski [forest] kebap, shish kebap [grilled pieces of meat] (on embers), drousan kebap (in a pot with a lid), banska kapama (it is roasted in a pot with its lid on, stuck by dough, and placed in an oven), meatless sarmi wrapped in vine leaves, Stanimaka sarmi, stuffed peppers, peppers stuffed with beans.

It is hard to forget the fragrance coming from the golden-brownish skin of a lamb, a chicken or a piglet, roasted in moderately heated oven, or the incredible Rhodope cheverme (lamb or mutton, roasted spitted over embers), the traditional Bulgarian grill (a minced meat finger, a minced meat ball and spiked pieces of pork). Is it not a pleasantly taunting memory for someone who has tasted it?

The golden roasted banitsa [cheese pie] (twisted, dragged, overturned, with meat, vegetable or fruit stuffing) is made and served throughout the whole of Bulgaria, everywhere carrying the specific atmosphere of the region. A national specialty is also the katma/katmi [kind of pancakes]. They are made on a plate or in a sach (a specially made earthenware plate) and are served with honey, cheese, jam or meat.

One of the ingredients of the magic, known as a Bulgarian recipe, comes from the combination of the most varied Bulgarian condiments (dill, mint, savory and parsley). They are likewise determining for the taste of a great number of the gourmet entrees: loukanka [dried sausage]
(Smyadovska - of Smyadovtsi, Panagryurska -of Panagyurishte, Troyanska - of Troyan, Karlovska - of Karlovo), soudjouk (Gornooryahovski - of Gorna Oryahovitsa, lovdjiiska -of hunters), nadenitsi [sausages], babek, starets. Featuring among these delicacies are the equally tasty sheep meat and goat meat pasturma [salted dried meat with spices], the salted slanina [swine fat with the skin], the salted fish, and, naturally, don't forget, the elenski [stag] leg - a product of pork meat (the leg) with the unique taste and flavour, which can successfully be prepared only in the foothills of Elena Part of the Balkan Mountains.

The Bulgarian yoghurt, famous throughout the whole world, besides being directly consumed, is combined with other products in the traditional Bulgarian cuisine. Well known are the tarator (a combination of yoghurt, water, finely chopped cucumbers, garlic and dill) and the so-called appetizers: fried vegetable marrows, or egg plants with garlic and milk, yoghurt with garlic, walnuts and cucumbers, dishes like eggs the Panagyurishte way, lamb or chicken, roasted with eggs and milk, etc. The Bulgarian white brined sheep-milk cheese is a registered trade mark amidst the abundance of cheeses in the European cuisine.

It has been generally acknowledged that the Bulgarian vegetables have an inimitable taste. The fresh tomatoes, having gathered the sunshine in their purple core, the crisp cucumbers, with some dill spread on top of them, the tender lettuces and radishes, filled with the vital humidity of the Bulgarian land - just taste them!

As a dessert, the Bulgarian land offers its fruit: fragrant peaches, apples, pears, grapes and water melons, suffused with a sunny juice and cultivated under the space of the skies.

But in order to feel the real taste of the Bulgarian specialities and gourmet dishes and to assess them by their true value, you have to combine them with the famous Bulgarian wines and rakiya brandy. What can the renowned Shopska salad be without grapes or plum brandy! And have you ever tried apricot or gyul [rose] brandy?

As to the wine! Oh, the Bulgarian wine: it does not just help enjoy the meal. A joy and a real pleasure is a glass of Rose from Preslav with a dish of tender calf meat. Added to the appetizing fragrance of every beef dish should by all means be also the taste of exquisite Merlot wine from Haskovo, Souhindol or Lyubimets, the magnificent Mavroud from Assenovgrad, the unique Melnik from Hursovo, to say nothing about the mysterious Cabernet from Yambol or Bourgas. They are also superb with a pork chop. A gyuvech mutton-and-vegetables dish simply would not go without Merlot from Stambolovo. And the taste of the roast chicken becomes truly magic with the fragrant Chardonnay or Trammer from Turgovishte. And why not also a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from Pomorie. Particularly when there are the two of you...

Every region in Bulgaria has its own wines: each one with its own taste, which is remembered. And since the preferences of all are different, while the Bulgarian wines are excellent, find yours amidst this bouquet of tastes and fragrances. And as it is customarily said in Bulgaria - Nazdrave! Cheers, to your health!

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