Bulgaria is a country in the Southeastern region of Europe and it is one of the oldest countries within the continent. Aside from the stunning mountains and beautiful landscapes, Bulgaria is also famous for their colourful heritage, rich culture, and well-kept traditions. Known as the Land Of Roses, Bulgaria houses the Rose Valley near the town of Kazanlak, where 85 percent of the world’s rose essential oil is produced! If you think Bulgaria is only about their heritage and rose oil, you are totally missing out! There are just so many beautiful and unique products ranging from home furnishings to food items to choose from. Read this article to learn more about what to buy in Bulgaria.
Lyutenitsa is a vegetable chutney made with a base of tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and a variety of different spices. This condiment is one major gastronomic symbol and a jar of homemade lyutenitsa is what makes up a basic but important component in Bulgaria’s culinary world. The unique, flavourful chutney can be eaten as a dip with crackers or meat and it can also be used as a spread on bread. If you have the chance to be visiting Bulgaria, don’t forget to get a few bottles of this delicacy to bring back home!
2. Kuker's Mask
Kukeri is a traditional folk ritual where married Bulgarian men dress up as scary-looking animals with the intention to scare off evil spirits. This ritual is usually carried out during the New Year. Most of the participants’ body parts are covered with the elaborate costume, usually adorned with wooden masks that represent a ram, goat, or a bull. Some masks consist of two sides, one side with a big nose and the other side with a scary face. The scarier the mask is, the more effective it is at warding off bad spirits. Visitors can get the mask as a souvenir at the National Art Gallery Gift Shop in Sofa, with prices ranging from USD 250 to 450.
3. Bulgarian feta cheese
Bulgaria is definitely a cheese lover’s heaven, with lots of cheese varieties to choose from. However, the most well-known variety would have to be their crumbly, unique tasting Bulgarian feta. The strain of bacteria called the Bacillus Bulgaricus was discovered in Bulgaria in the 1900s and it is the bacteria responsible for the cheese’s special acidic taste. Bulgarian feta is made of either goat, cow, or sheep milk and the best ones are left to mature for at least 60 days. It is often used as a salad topping or stuffed in a pepper. You can get the cheese from supermarkets or any cheese specialty stores within Bulgaria!
4. Sharena sol
Sharena sol is a famous traditional Bulgarian spice mix made with a base of salt and local herbs such as fenugreek, paprika, and summer savory. It is what makes the Bulgarian cuisine taste Bulgarian, if you get what we mean. The pleasant, aromatic flavour makes it a great condiment to be added to bread and potato and vegetable dishes.
Rakia is the national liquor in Bulgaria. Distilled from sugary fruits like grapes, peaches, plums, or cherries, this is a pretty strong alcoholic beverage that is loved by almost every Bulgarian! The liquor is traditionally served with a classic rakia glass with a narrow neck and rounded bottom and often consumed with a side of traditional Bulgarian sausages. You can find this classic beverage almost anywhere in Bulgaria in places like restaurants or supermarkets.
6. Rose oil
Bulgaria’s mild climate and fertile soils make it a great environment for the cultivation of roses. You might not be able to bring a ton of roses back home but you can get a concentrated bottle (or a few) of pure rose essential oil! You’ll need about 5 tonnes (5.5 tons) of rose petals to produce a kilogram of the essential oil. Thus, this precious oil is nicknamed “liquid gold” in the cosmetic industry and we totally understand why. Its mild, pleasant scent is not only relaxing but also brings an abundance of skincare benefits with its moisturising and nourishing properties.
Martenitsas are traditional handmade Bulgarian dolls that can be either male or female, made of white and red yarn. Every year in spring, usually on the first day or March, also known as the Baba Marta Day in Bulgaria, the Bulgarians will gift a martenitsa to their loved ones, wishing them good luck, health and a prosperous year.
Guveche is a Bulgarian traditional glazed claypot used for cooking. Raw ingredients such as meat, vegetables and cheese are put inside a guveche before the pot is placed in an oven. Each guest will receive their own piping hot guveche as each one consists of one food serving, very much like a personal casserole. A guveche isn’t just your ordinary kitchenware as the lids are usually really beautifully curated, and it definitely makes for great serving ware for your dinner guests! You can get a set of them around the country at traditional Bulgarian markets or souvenir stores.
Palamarka is a wooden tool traditionally used by harvesters to protect their hands while harvesting grains with a sickle. The tool is connected to a long hook that aids harvesters while they are cutting the grains. With the help of the palamarka, more grains can be cut at one time. Aside from that, the palamarka has another use. It is a practice that involves unmarried girls gathering and placing their palamarkas together with a small prediction note in an apron, then taking them out one by one. The predictions are usually focused on their future spouses. In the present day, the palamarka is used as a house decoration as it depicts a beautiful tradition of the country.
The chushkopek is a vegetable roaster unique to Bulgaria. Ever since its invention in 1974, almost every Bulgarian household has had it. This appliance is shaped like a cylinder and it is usually used to roast vegetables like peppers, eggplants, potatoes and sweet corns. The roasted vegetables are then tossed into delectable salads. The interesting cylindrical design also allows the vegetables to be evenly roasted, ensuring that all sides are cooked. If you are a salad lover, you should totally bring the chushkopek back home because this fun appliance could also be a motivation for you to embark on a journey towards a healthier diet.
Bulgaria is totally a shoppers' haven
Bet you didn’t know that Bulgaria is actually such a shopping haven! With all these colourful, interesting and unique souvenirs, you’ll definitely be spoilt for choices. Let’s not forget about the delicious dips, cheeses, and spices. Get some for your loved ones and they’ll fall in love with these special gastronomic items available only in Bulgaria. If you are planning a trip to Bulgaria soon, remember to keep this article in mind lest you forget anything!
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