If you receive a menu in any restaurant in Bulgaria you might be surprised how many pages are dedicated to the so-called meze. Meze is served to accompany alcoholic drinks, as an appetizer before the main dish (“razjadka”). Thanks to its aroma, taste and attractive look it should encourage your appetite. In Bulgaria, popular mezes are salads – made from raw, cooked, roasted or pickled vegetables, mushrooms, yoghurt, eggs, sausages and fish. All Bulgarians like meeting their friends or relatives, sitting with them at the table in their homes or in summer on the terrace and in the yard of their houses or restaurants, drinking rakia and eating a salad. In Bulgaria, you should not drink without eating a meze.
A good host knows exactly which meze should accompany which drink. For example, you should drink rakia with a salad made from raw or pickled vegetables, wine with cheese and beer with French fries sprinkled with grated white cheese. The number one among salads is the Shopska salad. In restaurants, the dressings are provided separately. You can find Shopska salad in some restaurants outside of Bulgaria too, but very often it is not made properly because a sweet-and-sour dressing (which means: with sugar) is poured over it. For a Bulgarian, it is the same as pouring ketchup on spaghetti in front of an Italian!
300 g tomatoes
200 g salad cucumbers
600 g peppers
100 g onion
150 g grated white cheese („sirene“)
chopped parsley, oil, vinegar, salt
The original Shopska salad is made from roasted peppers, which are peeled and cut into smaller pieces. Cut tomatoes, cucumbers and onion into dice. Mix it with salt, oil and vinegar (or serve these ingredients separately). Put the vegetable mixture on a salad plate and cover it with a thick layer of grated white cheese and chopped parsley. You can decorate the salad with black olives.