The Foods eaten by the people of Bulgaria

The culinary history of Bulgaria spans multiple influences, from indigenous Balkan traditions to Byzantine, Ottoman, and even some Western culinary practices. Over the past 500 years, Bulgarian cuisine has primarily relied on locally grown and seasonally available foods. Here is an overview of the key components:

Staples and Grains:

  • Bread: This has been a crucial part of the Bulgarian diet for centuries, traditionally made from wheat, rye, or a mixture of grains.
  • Corn and Millet: Consumed in various forms, including porridge or bread.
  • Rice: Though not as ancient as other grains, rice has been incorporated into the modern diet, often in dishes like stuffed peppers and pilafs.


  • Cheese: White cheese, similar to feta, is especially prevalent and is used in salads, pastries, and as a side.
  • Yogurt: Bulgaria is famous for its yogurt, which has a unique bacterial culture giving it a distinct taste. It's often consumed as a drink ("ayran") or used in soups ("tarator").


  • Pork, Lamb, and Chicken: These are the most commonly consumed meats, often grilled, roasted, or used in stews.
  • Fish: Though less common than meat, fish is consumed, particularly in regions near the Black Sea or rivers.


  • Tomatoes, Cucumbers, and Bell Peppers: Frequently used in salads, most famously in the "Shopska salad."
  • Onions and Garlic: Widely used for seasoning and flavoring.
  • Cabbage and Spinach: Often used in soups or fermented as sauerkraut.


  • Beans: A staple, especially in the colder months, often cooked in stews or soups.


  • Apples, Plums, and Cherries: Commonly grown and consumed fresh, dried, or as preserves.
  • Grapes: Consumed fresh or as wine.

Herbs and Spices:

  • Paprika, Mint, and Savory: Widely used for seasoning.
  • Dill and Parsley: Commonly used herbs in a variety of dishes.

Sweets and Desserts:

  • Banitsa: A pastry filled with cheese, eggs, or sometimes pumpkin.
  • Baklava and Tulumba: Influenced by the Ottoman era, these sweets are made of syrup-soaked pastry.


  • Wine: Bulgaria has a long history of winemaking, and wine is a common accompaniment to meals.
  • Rakia: A fruit brandy, often homemade, and usually consumed as an aperitif.

Colonial and Global Influences:

  • Turkish Influence: Foods like kofta and kebabs have entered Bulgarian cuisine through Ottoman influence.
  • Russian Influence: Dishes like "borscht" and certain pickled foods have Russian origins.

The last 500 years have seen Bulgarian cuisine maintain its focus on locally available ingredients, like fresh vegetables, dairy, and grains. Traditional cooking methods like grilling, roasting, and fermenting are still prevalent. However, the food has also been influenced by the various empires and cultures it has interacted with, creating a rich and diverse culinary landscape.

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