I am a big foodie, there is no doubt about it. So when I learned that I was moving to Bulgaria, almost instantaneously, whilst my parents worried about things like my accommodation, I worried about the food. What would I cook? What ingredients would be available? Would I have to export in mass all the Cadbury’s that I usually eat?
I was looking forward to my first trip to the supermarket in Bulgaria, not only because shopping for food is my favourite pastime , but to see what there would be on offer. My first step was to choose a supermarket.
Bulgaria like any other country has several supermarkets, surprisingly one of these is Lidl which we also have in the UK. However, after a couple of weeks I realised that this is considered to be the supermarket for the more well-off people. Although, food prices in comparison to the UK still tend to be cheaper as the government subsides the cost of food in Bulgaria. Nevertheless, some slightly cheaper supermarkets are Kaufland and Billa. Billa, however, has less variety than Kaufland, which tends to be the cheapest supermarket with greater variety. Metro is another well-known ‘supermarket’
although it leans towards being more of a cash and carry, selling a significant number of English foods. However, don’t get your hopes up, there’s still no Cadbury’s!
Overall, you can still cook exactly what you would back in the UK, but your taste buds might have to adjust slightly. Firstly Bulgarian cheese tastes completely different to the cheese we’re used to in the UK. It’s a lot more salty and for some unknown reason, also significantly more expensive! Bread in Bulgaria is no where in the league of Warburtons or Hovis, its much firmer, grainier and goes out of date much more quickly! Not my first choice. You learn to change your preferences when it comes to snacks as well, Bulgarians are huge fans of croissants and Milka chocolate. Although the croissants were one change I was more than happy to make.
Something which also took some getting used to is the water situation. No one drinks tap water. First of all its hard water, which for me being from the north with our good old soft water was a shock in itself. So bottled water it was, its much cleaner and safer to drink, the norm is to buy it in big drums which contain about 11L of water. Water is cheap so this isn’t much of an issue to be honest, but it can get quite annoying when you run out of water and opening the tap isn’t an option.
For those people who only eat halal or kosher meat, there are several Turkish butchers that supply this. Although, it’s usually provided on a first come first serve basis, as deliveries are made on certain days coming in from Turkey, after which you have to wait until the following week to buy some more meat.
As with any country, eating out is a popular option. Bulgaria being in such close proximity to Turkey and Greece, means that traditional dishes such as kebabs and shwarma have found their way into Bulgarian take aways and restaurants. Much to my disappointment, the classic British dish of Fish and Chips has been unable to find its way to Bulgaria. The most annoying thing about eating out in Bulgaria, and I’m sure others will agree, is the waiting time, it can honestly take a eons before your food arrives!