Eating out in Bulgaria can be a pleasure. Food is delicious and cheap though the impenetrable barrier to foreigners, the Cyrillic language, still presents some problems with menus. But don't let a small challenge with language spoil your exploration of Bulgarian cuisine.
Bulgarian cuisine has influences from both Greece and Turkey and compromises a range of delicious summer and winter dishes.
In winter Bulgarians start with a hearty soup, perhaps bob (bean soup) or topcheta supa ( soup with meatballs)
In summer, salad is favourite, normally the shopska salad (tomatoes, cucumber and onion topped with grated cheese), which can be found just everywhere. A small range of starter dishes or dips can also be ordered including tarator (yoghurt soup with cucumber, walnuts and garlic), sarmi (vine or cabbage leaves stuffed with rice and spices, sometimes with meat) or kashkaval pane (breaded fried cheese).
The basis of most main courses is simple grilled meats – chops, ribs and steaks. Meshana skara, the Bulgarian equivalent of a mixed grill, is popular choice. Other items include kebabche , a grilled spicy sausage, and kyufte , a spicy meat patty.
Bulgarians also have a delicious range of slow-cooked dishes, including its national dish kavarma ( slowly cooked stew of pork and liver), drob surma (chopped liver, rice and eggs baked in the oven) and sirene po shopski (eggs and cheese baked in a clay pot with tomatoes). Musaka could be mistaken for the Greek moussaka but doesn't contain aubergine. If you work out the word gyuvech on the menu you'll be ordering meat stew.
Fish is popular along the Black Sea Coast but will always be more expensive than meat. Plakiya is a delicious fish stew with no written recipe – just made with whatever was caught that day.<>Bulgarians like to start the day with banitsa , a warm pastry filled with cheese.
Although drinking water is said to be safe, bottled water will certainly taste better. The short shot of strong coffee (espresso style) oils the wheels of Bulgarian society; it is available everywhere and is excellent. For tea, Bulgarians drink bilkov (herbal) and plodov (fruit) teas. Fresh fruit juices are a highlight of the summer, while the international brands of pop (soda) are readily available.
Bulgarian wine is well regarded. The country also brews good beer; leading brands include Kamenitsa and Zagorka . For something with more oomph, try domestic brands of vodka, excellent slivova rakiya (plum brandy) and rosaliika (rose liqueur)