The Luncheon on the Grass

Dear Reader,

If you thought I was referring to the cheeky Manet painting of 1862, depicting two nude women entertaining two fully-dressed men at a forest picnic – you are mistaken. 🙂

I am going to tell you of some of the culinary delights you could relish on the go while in Bulgaria. 

For example, do you know that we have our own specialty pancakes called катми, or katmi, stress on the final I? They are as large as pizzas and are sold at special stalls in parks or everywhere where many people are gathering. Jam or cocoa spread is the usual complement; the salesperson/cook smears the pancakes for you, folds them and off you go! 

Pancakes in Koprivshtitsa, May 2016.
Pancakes in Koprivshtitsa, May 2016.

The jams and fruit syrup bottles you see in front of the pancakes are homemade and are for sale. In the centre of Koprivshtitsa, there were stalls too, from where I bought two jars of rose petal and fig jams.

The fig jam is already gone, it pairs greatly with buffalo yoghurt! The rose petals one is great too. It tastes weird on buttered bread, so I eat it the old-fashioned way, with a teaspoon for dessert. :)
The fig jam is already gone, it pairs greatly with buffalo yogurt! The rose petals one is delicious too. It tastes weird on buttered bread, so I eat it the old-fashioned way, with a teaspoon for dessert. 🙂

While we are still on the topic of breakfast, let’s go into that adorable Koprivshtitsa coffee shop where they served Turkish coffee, typical for Bulgaria until the first half of the 20th century:

Traditional coffee shop interior in Koprivshtitsa.
Traditional coffee shop interior in Koprivshtitsa.

Do you take your coffee much sugared, less sugared or just plain sugared? Unsweetened Turkish coffee – that’s unheard of! 🙂

Turkish coffee in a cezve.
Turkish coffee in a cezve.

After a good stroll through all the inspiring houses of the Koprivshtitsa poets and revolutionaries, how about lunch?

Let’s see what’s on the menu:

The lunch menu in a Koprivshtitsa restaurant.
The lunch menu in a Koprivshtitsa restaurant.

Now this menu was so typical that I just had to take a picture of it! 🙂

It reads:

Lunch Menu:

  • Chicken with Rice
  • Drob Sarma (this is similar to mussaka in that it is baked in the oven and has the mussaka-style topping. Beneath the topping, there is onion, rice and boiled lamb offal such as liver, lungs and spleen. I’d never eat that.)
  • Beans with Sausage
  • Stuffed Peppers in White Sauce – the chushkas are stuffed with minced meat, usually pork, and the sauce is a thin bechamel.

I plan to pay homage to this classic lunch menu and have published  the recipes for chicken with rice and stuffed peppers soon.

Now if you want to be like a classical Bulgarian tourist, you’d not sit in a restaurant for lunch, but have a couple of kebapcheta bought from a stall. You would eat them on a bench in the town centre, possibly listening to the local brass orchestra. How fun is that?! 🙂 

Sizzling barbecue, anyone? This is not from Koprivshtitsa though. This is at the farmer's market where I shop in Sofia! :)
Sizzling barbecue, anyone? This is not from Koprivshtitsa though. This is at the farmers’ market where I shop in Sofia! 🙂
Kebapcheta on a bench...I have not done this in years!
Kebapcheta on a bench…I have not done this in years!
If you care for a posh-er kebapcheta dish, here you are. This is in the Tsar Boris III park in Sofia.
If you care for a posh-er kebapcheta dish, here you are. This is in the Tsar Boris III park in Sofia.

And if you are not interested in kebapcheta, would you like a nice doner kebap instead? These are large, oily and super delicious!

Doner in Koprivshtitsa.
Doner in Koprivshtitsa.

I just had dinner but all these pictures have got me hungry again. 🙂 It is time to finish off our tourist luncheon with something sweet and reminiscent of village fairs and childhood: 

Blue cotton candy! Any takers?
Blue cotton candy! Any takers?

Doesn’t just the sight of that make you smile? I used to like cotton candy a lot when I was about five. I wouldn’t eat it now, but just seeing it made me happy. 

I hope you enjoyed our luncheon, not on the grass exactly, but under the grey May skies of Bulgaria.

I have no doubt that Manet’s basket of bread and cherries can also be delectable, especially in pleasurable company as depicted, but, honestly, this pales compared to a good, juicy kebabche and a horo at the town square…!

I am Bulgarian, not French after all, what can I do?