The national dish of Bulgaria is Shopska salad, also known as Bulgarian salad.
The main colors of the Shopska salad are extremely patriotic of its native country: red, green and white, composed from tomatoes and peppers, cucumbers, and cheese. Other vegetables sometimes included may also be: green pepper, onion, green onion, parsley, and more. The vegetables are usually diced and mixed, then sprinkled with sunflower oil or olive oil and sometimes vinegar. Afterwards, they are covered with a thick layer of diced or grated sirene cheese. The dressings are usually provided separately in restaurants, where Shopska salad is served as an appetizer. Shopska salad may also be served as a garnish to barbecued and baked meat. Origins Shopska salad can be seen to originate from two parts of Bulgarian history. It may have been from the Shopi people who inhabited the Shopluk region of the Balkans or it may have been a dish derived from socialism, invented by the tourist company Balkantourist. Though the name of the dish originates from the Shopluk region, the latter origin is much more supported, as it came through the 1960 tourist movement in Bulgaria. At the time, the chefs at Balkantourist invest five or six salads, including Dobrujan, Macedonian, and Thracian salads. The only salad that became known as a national dish was Shopska salad, which captivated the Bulgarian people through its simple ingredients and delicious taste. Shopska salad is also easily found in Bulgaria’s neighboring countries, such as Hungary and Serbia. Difficulty in Preparation Finding the proper cheese: Shopska salad can be difficult to prepare in Europe due to the obtaining of the proper cheeses. The proper cheese to use in Shopska salad is Bulgarian cheese, which is difficult to find in Europe and when found, is often in low quality. As a substitution, Greek feta is recommended, but while both white, salty, and and hard, the structure and taste is quite different from Bulgarian cheese. Of Bulgarian cheese, there are about four prominent types: white cow, white goat, white sheep and yellow cheese. If it can be found, Turkish canned white cheese from any animal origin is the best replacement for Bulgarian cheese; however, it is also quite difficult to obtain. Bulgarian white cheese has a firm, spongy texture that is less buttery than feta, but not chewy. When crushed, it dissolves into soft pieces. Finding an exact replica can prove to be a challenge. Finding the right tomatoes: Bulgarian tomatoes grow exceptionally well in Bulgaria, but finding a replacement outside of Bulgaria can be difficult. They are different from French or Italian tomatoes, and the closest variety of tomato would be the large tomatoes, pink in color, called Bull’s Hearts. Trying to “upgrade” the salad: One may try to use higher quality ingredients to try to make their Shopska salad better, but doing so only removes the authenticity of the taste. A common example is using olive oil instead of sunflower oil. While olive oil can be an appropriate replacement for sunflower oil, and often deemed to be of higher quality, it makes the salad lose its true Bulgarian taste.
Cory. “Food Friday – History of the Shopska Salad (шопска салата) – Journey Unknown.”Journey Unknown. Journey Unknown, 23 Jan. 2016.
Shkodrova, Albena. “Epicure.” Balkan Travellers. Travellers, n.d.
Author: Jenny Zhang