Bulgarian Cuisine

My Introduction to Bulgarian Food and Drink

Bulgarian CuisineI loved Bulgaria when I was there even though it was cold, I didn’t speak the language, and I was just a little freaked out by all the old school communist nostalgia. One thing that didn’t freak me out was the food. While I didn’t eat everything, what I did have was a great experience of culinary East meets West.

My three favorite meals were 1) cooked by my friend Peppy 2) cooked by my friend Boris’ grandmother and 3) in a great restaurant called Pop Lipite or “Under the Linden Trees” where I had dinner with my friend Katya one evening.

Bulgarian sausageBulgarian cuisine is essentially Slavic, but it has a lot in common with both Turkish and mediterrainean cuisine. there are many sausages and roasted meats including the Karnache sausage pictured which is always coiled and very typical. Village food was a bit heavy on meat for my tastes, but also utilizes a lot of vegetables, herbs and fruits.

 

 

Bulgarian saladAt Pop Lipite I had my first taste of the famous Bulgarian Shopska Salada. It is made from thick juicy tomatoes, perfect cucumbers, onion, roasted peppers, and sirene- the delicious brine cheese you find throughout the Balkans. Oh…and don’t forget the parsley. Of course, with every meal in the Balkans, Rakia is an essential. The delicious and amazingly stiff plum liquor is a mainstay and compliments the shopska salad very well.

 

Bulgarian CheesePop Lipite was a great experience. Since 1926 this traditional place has been a gathering spot. Folk music, big timber beams, and a traditional decor made this a warm and wonderful spot. The great food and company helped too.

In addition to salads, Bulgarians food also uses a lot of yogurt, soups, meats, and pastries. Grilled meats and sausages are very common in Bulgaria but you are more likely to find pork or lamb than beef. The beef is used primarily to produce butter, sirene, and of course yogurt which some claim originated in Bulgaria.

 

Bulgarian PotatoesPeppy made a potato dish that exploded my tastebuds. It was roasted potatos, chicken, and big white beans which I’m told are common in many Bulgarian dishes. The chicken was especially delicious, I should ask her for the recipe. Staying with Tim and Peppy was great as the food was always delicious. Tim’s mom owns a restaurant and he’s no slouch in the kitchen either and it was a treat to eat some truly American food while there.

 

 

 

Bulgarian PastryBoris’s grandmother served perhaps the most traditional of meals with lots of sausages, meats, dried fruits, shopska salad, piroshka which are fried dough filled with cheese (yummy but probably not so good for the heart). Speaking of which I also tried the amazingly scrumtuous Banitsa which are a pastry filled with spinach, leeks, and cheese – oh my!

 

Onions and garlic are very common in Bulgarian foods and you find them heavily used in the many soups and savory stews which make up a large portion of the cuisine. My favorite soup? Taractor which is Bulgarian Soupmade with cucumber and cold yogurt. Yes, it’s like eating tadzikhe sauce with a spoon. The Bob Chorba (sounds like an insurance salesman) was a close second and is made with beans, onions, and lots of garlic and chili.

Boris’ grandmother served us a kind of shredded bread/pasta with milk, sugar, sirene cheese or salt, it was not really my cup of tea at all. On the upside, I think it was probably cheap and healthy.

Of course, if all of this doesn’t sound great to you, you ccan find plenty of kebabs, pizza, and burgers too.

Bulgarian wineAnd, I should also point out that Bulgarian wines are fantastic and not in the least expensive – but be careful of the home made village wine. It will kill your head in the morning!

 

As always, if you are heading to Bulgaria and want to ask me anything about it, my travel advice is free for the asking or you might find the resources in the box below to be helpful.

 

Bulgaria Resources
Bulgaria Cuisine and Recipes
Hotels in Bulgaria
Hostels in Bulgaria
Travel Insurance for Bulgaria
Bulgaria and Around the World
Last Minute Flights, Hotels, Cars

beach in Costa Rica

How to Make the Most of Your Trip to Costa Rica

Costa Rica boasts multiple attractive features for tourists who enjoy wildlife as well as a peaceful and welcoming holiday environment. This pristine Central American country nestled between Panama and Nicaragua is a treasure trove of untainted landscapes and wildlife diversity, featuring numerous national parks inhabited by rare and magnificent species.

Tips for taking full advantage of the Coast Rican treasures:

costa rica sunsetTry getting from one location to another by plane. It can be difficult to drive from one area to the other of the country, for the roads can often be rendered inaccessible due to the tropical climate. Short plane trips can be a real day saver for those who wish to venture between the several touristic locations, as they are inexpensive and safe to take. Plan your plane trips from San Jose, where flights to all the country’s main locations can be found.

Costa Rica Resources
Costa Rica Travel Insurance
Costa Rica Hotels
Hostels in Costa Rica

Make sure you take some good books to help you identify and take full advantage of the wildlife and plants within the Costa Rican national parks. beach in Costa RicaThis will really help you fully appreciate the beauty and rarity of the many wildlife species that can be spotted in the parks. Although the guides in the parks can help you discover and spot these animal and plant species, there is no better way to take advantage of all the natural wonders than with a good reference book.

You should really visit at least one of the coasts of Costa Rica, for this narrow strip of land offers the luxury of two diversified coastal areas, the Pacific Ocean in the west and the Caribbean Sea in the east. Both coasts are the home to several national parks, such as the Manuel Antonio National Park on the Pacific Coast and the Tortuguero National Park on the Caribbean Coast.

The Manuel Antonio National Park

Boating in Costa RicaThis national park is situated in the south along the Pacific Ocean and its starting point is located in the small coastal town of Quepos. You enter the park aboard small boats that takes you across a river into the park’s boundary. The entrance of the park boasts white sandy beaches lined with palm trees from which forest trails lead into the depths of the deep forested park. The park harbors various species of animals including iguanas, wild monkeys, peccaries, agoutis and wild parrots ablaze with red and yellow feathers. Butterflies as well as wild flowers and plants also contribute to intensify the colorful setting of the jungles, offering spectacular scenery of rare natural intensity.

The Tortuguero National Park

On the opposite coast along the Caribbean lies the Tortuguero National Park, a vast expanse of land that features an amazing array of wildlife specimens.

lizards in Costa RicaIf you decide to drive to the park from San José, take the Guapiles highway to Limon and then from the Bay of Moin you can catch along boat on the canal that takes you north to the Cariari National Wetlands into the heart of the national park. Most of the boats from the Bay of Moin leave in the morning, so make sure you find out the departure times before planning your trip.

The Tortuguero National Park features an incredible variety of rich and biologically fascinating wildlife species within more than ten specific habitats. These environments include coastal woodland, slope forest, high rainforest, swamp forest, holillo forest, herbaceous swamp and lagoons. Within these habitats you can spot many different mammal species as well as birds and marine life. Sea turtles including Hawksbill and Loggerheads nest along the pristine beaches from July through to October, while the Leatherback turtles, which are the largest species in the world, come to nest in the park from February to July.

The Barra del Colorado Wildlife Refuge lies north of the Tortuguero National Park and offers a similar climate and environment to explore. To the south the Tortuguero National Park is bordered by the Parismina River and the Cariari National Wetlands.

The best time to visit the Costa Rican parks is during the dry season, for the rainy season can be very humid and wet, especially on the east coast. The dry season runs from November to April, and although there can be occasional showers rainfall is less frequent.

Author Bio:
Alina is a travel author who has written many articles that keeps on guiding the travelers throughout the world. Angelina herself is an avid traveler who has traveled more than 22 countries. 

viking vagabond

Viking Vagabond – Eric the Red

Great adventures inspire great adventurers. Guest blogger Shelby Yugalinni tells us about one of his heroes in this weeks Extraordinary Vagabond feature.

Eric the Red was a vagabond explorer and in Greenland he was the first European. In 982 he traveled through the water from Iceland and he was the leader of the first group of colonists to settle in Greenland.

viking vagabond
Eric the Red
was called by different names such as Erik Thorvaldson or Erik Raude. He was born in Norway. When his father was expelled for murder, his family settled in Western Iceland. Later Eric murdered two men and he was also expelled from Iceland because of that for three years. Eric the Red is known as one of the most famous early world travelers since he traveled across the world that was known in his time.

During his exile Eric made up his mind to sail to some islands when he heard about the discovery of some islands by Gunnbjorn Olfsson. He traveled from Snaefellsnes Peninsula along with a crew. He found the islands of Gunnbjorn and landed on eastern Greenland. He called the place Midjokull, the meaning of which is “middle glacier”.

Viking vagabondAfter that Eric traveled south and rounded the tip of south Greenland. Then he landed again on the southwestern coast of Greenland. It was there he spent his winter on the island now called, Erik’s Island. He spent his two winters at the southern tip of Greenland and explored the surrounding area.

Resources about Eric the Red
Eric the Red and Leif the Lucky
The Saga of Icelanders
Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga
Historical Atlas of the Vikings
The Norse Discovery of America

Eric’s exile was over in 985, so he came back to Breidafjord, Iceland. When Erik returned to Iceland after his exile had expired, he is said to have brought with him stories of “Greenland”. Erik deliberately gave the land a more appealing name than “Iceland” in order to lure potential settlers. He explained, “people would be attracted to go there if it had a favorable name”. In addition to being the first colonist in North American Greenland, he was the first American marketer apparently. He was in conflict with many people on Iceland and he wanted to start a new settlement. Around 500 settlers and Eric arrived to settle Greenland in 14 ships and they settled in Brattahlid which is now called Julianehab.

The settlements suffered abnormal cold weather in the place and due to this some of the settlers returned to Iceland and the rest of them disappeared. It is thought that they were attacked and killed by Inuits or they died from disease and starvation.

Eric’s son Leif (Leif Ericson) is credited with the first European to step on the mainland continent of North America.

Got a favorite vagabond you want to write about? Go ahead! Write a guest post about vagabonds who have inspired you and submit it to us today.

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