The travel that led us to the yogurt
On the one free day we had, we decided to rent a car and drive wherever the road takes us.
Traveling with friends is the perfect way to set your mind free from all of the everyday activities. We watched the whole gamut of colors that autumn can give you as the car drove on the road, and you watched through the windows the surrounding nature of Bulgaria. Suddenly I remember that I have been here before, as a young boy with my mom and dad. Traveling with friends may be the best way to take your mind off things, but traveling with family, there is nothing like that. Those are the moments when you become even closer to your loved ones, especially when you are a little kid. Your mother and father tell you stories of how they were young, the adventures they have had, their memories. You sit in the back of the car, and you listen with interest. Then your father suddenly stops, and you see that you have parked near a lonely restaurant in the middle of the road.
“This is the best place to eat buffalo yogurt,” – your dad says.
It’s the first time you hear about buffalo yogurt. You go inside the warm restaurant, and you order. You see that the yogurt is complemented with blueberry jam as the old lady brings it to your table.
You taste it and feel the softness and sweetness of this elegant white desert. Finally, I realized that I was driving on the same road as my father was driving years ago. I started to keep an eye out for that lonely restaurant, with anticipation, because I knew that if I kept driving, this road was going to take me to the place I was before with my parents. Some time passed by and I saw the restaurant. I knew we had to stop and experience the dance of that quiet, elegant, white lady with her partner the blueberry jam, so I parked the car near the restaurant.
I got out and said- “This is the best place to eat buffalo yogurt”- just like my father said to me.
IT was windy and cold so we hurried to get inside with my friends. We immediately felt the warmth from the fireplace in the restaurant. We were greeted with the smile of the same old lady from when I was young and I first came here. At first, we talked a little about where we were heading and where we have been. Then we ordered our yogurt. She served it to us with blueberry jam and a cup of tea. The beautiful wooden animal carvings in the restaurant were watching us as we drank. From the first bite of the yogurt with jam, you are taken back in the backseat of your parent’s car. Listening to their stories, sharing their past. When we finished, we talked again with the lady about where she recommended we go. After buying more jars of yogurt, we said goodbye and we set off on the road.
Now, Bulgarian yogurt as a whole is very special.
In fact, Bulgaria was the country that introduced yogurt to the west and turning it into the popular product we know today. Bulgarians claim that it was discovered accidentally around 4000 years ago by nomadic tribes. Because of animal skin bags where they carried their milk, this created a ripe environment for bacteria to grow and cause fermentation, thus creating yogurt. It is thought that that is how people came about yogurt in many different places. Still, Bulgarian yogurt is unique because of the Lactobacillus Bulgaricus bacteria which is used for the fermentation of the milk and it is found only in the air of Bulgaria. It gives the yogurt a distinct flavor unlike other yogurts and with the animals such as cows, buffalos, and sheep that eat the rich pastures enhance the richness of the flavor and health benefits.
Yogurt is a typical culinary delight and it is used to complement many dishes.
Bulgarians add it or use it for many meals. You can see people add it to dishes such as Moussaka, Lamb liver with rice, or Stuffed peppers with rice and minced meat. One of the all-time favorite cold soups for the summer is Tarator which is made from yogurt stirred with water, dices cucumbers, garlic, and chopped dill. There is no better way to start your lunch after sunbathing with your friends or family on the beach, and swimming in the beautiful Black sea waters than with a bowl of cold Tarator in the nearby beach restaurant to cool yourself off. This is not the only way yogurt helps your life. For the ones who like to party, a lot, and have bad mornings after they wake up, because of the hangover, yogurt can help you out.It is used for the great and mighty drink, the cure for the hangover, the drink that saves many University students in Bulgaria to clear their head before their lectures and exams after a night of partying, the drink sent from God, AYRAN.
This “healing potion” is made by combining water, yogurt, and salt and then “shaken, not stirred” until liquefied. It is best served cold with some Banitza on the side so that you can cure the hangover morning hunger. Another all-time favorite use of yogurt is, yogurt with biscuits. Just break the biscuit into pieces in a bowl and add yogurt. You can also add honey to it for the extra sweetness if you like. Leave it for a couple of minutes so that the yogurt can soak in the biscuits and enjoy the simplicity and incredible taste of this breakfast. This is it, plain and simple, the Bulgarian yogurt. We will always be proud of it and we will always use it in our cuisine. I mean come on, why not take advantage of the best.