The traditional Bulgarian kitchen is bright with homespun and hand-embroidered table linens and curtains, hand-painted pottery dishes, and carved wooden mugs. Strings of peppers and mushrooms of many varieties add color and aroma as they hang drying from the rafters. In country or city, the eating area is the heart of the home; hospitality centers around food and people and the sincere enjoyment of both.
In general, the present standard of living, though rising, is still low. The general housing shortage often means that two families live in a one-family residence. Average salaries provide for the necessities of life. Food shortages are common and kitchen facilities and dining areas meager. Food storage is not a problem since most foods are purchased on a day-to-day basis; and with most women working outside the home, there is little time for preserving and pick-ling, though Bulgarians are very fond of pickles and thick, sweet preserves.
MEALS AND CUSTOMS
Most Bulgarian meals are simple, hearty, and nourishing. Breakfast is usually bread with coffee; occasionally cheese and fruit may be added. Lunch would be a salad of chopped or sliced fresh vegetables mixed with nuts and cheese or lightly dressed with oil and lemon juice, followed, if available, by a meat or fish dish, and then by a dessert made with milk and cereal (e.g., rice pudding) or fruit and yogurt. A dinner may begin with an aperitif of Slivovka, black olives, and cheeses, a tchorba (stew of meat and vegetables), a side dish of cold dressed beans or lentils, all accompanied with wine and followed by fruits and Turkish coffee. The main difference between urban and rural meals would be the variety of foods presented and the presence of meat.