The next morning after arrival brought yet another familiar scent that brought joy to every inch of my body; banitsa.
Banitsa is a Bulgarian feta cheese “pie”; a common street food around the whole of the country, we often cook it on Sundays or mainly for special occasions (most notably christmas and new year when we fill the banitsa with kusmeti – “lucks”). My grandma had woken early to go out and buy a variety of banitsas, four in fact for us to try, all of which I happily inhaled after a peaceful night. One was a regular style banitsa, that tasted a lot like Brazilian pastel but with feta cheese, but was very different from one I’ve always had at home. Another was with rice, which I have made previously but also with spring onions and spinach. The third was Tutmanik – a banitsa bread, made with bread not filo pastry. The last was called “washed” banitsa, which I believe to be made with blanched filo sheets which are slightly thicker than usual. Some scrambled eggs had been whipped up and apple juice also served to wash it all down with.
Later we went for a walk down the road to get some fruit and groceries and to visit some local relatives – both activities go hand in hand in this town. I got a hold of a huge bag of peaches and apricots on our trip, recalling how beautiful the peaches were from my last visit – and I wasn’t mistaken. Beautifully tender and juicy and sweet – everything a peach should be but isn’t in the uk.
Our evenings here started with plans to do nothing at all and have ended up rammed with plans to attend barbeques, restaurants and homes with friends and family. My bulgarian isn’t up to scratch to engage in the bulgarian banter but I’ll happily listen and eat all the food in front of me instead.