O’er misty mountains and forests of trees we flew and arrived in the motherland: Bulgaria. Over ten years later we made our return, to a country where my parents and entire family grew up and still continue to live. I on the other hand am more or less British born and bred, but with Bulgarian blood through and through. And so after a few trips many a moon ago whence I was too young to understand or appreciate anything culturally stimulating I have returned to absorb the culture from heritage and all that comes along with it.
A quick pit stop in Sofia after a late night flight led us to meet an Aunt who thankfully I remembered spoke fluent english – ashamedly I struggle to speak Bulgarian but can perfectly understand everything. We took a trip to a local pub/restaurant and I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting but before me arrived dishes of extremely familiarity – basically the food I grew up on and continue to eat to this very day, only with fresher, tastier ingredients – including the tastiest tomatoes you will EVER eat: Shopska salata (a light summer salad with tomatoes, spring onions, cucumber and grated feta cheese), kuftete (kind of like burgers but often with thyme and made with homemade mincemeat), a slaw of sorts (made with cabbage, carrots and dill) and the best chips I’ve ever had – chunky and lightly sautéed in lots of garlic, butter and dill. Incredibly simple but incredibly delicious – my favourite food.
The next day we made our way to Kardzhali, a small provincial town three and half hours from sofia where my dad grew up and many of my relatives continue to live. A rising 35 degree heat permeates the Summer days, and we bought snacks and drinks along the way to stay somewhat alive and sane. Fields and fields of sunflowers coloured the horizon golden yellow as we leisurely drove through the fields and mountains of Bulgaria, traditional music playing on the radio and the fresh mountain air filling our lungs.