A lot of people have been asking me what I did with that tin of tin of Bulgarian not-feta that I bought a while back. Well the answer is nothing, but then I used some to make leftover sausage scrambled eggs (slice the sausage thinly, fry up in a bit of harissa and pretend it’s chorizo) with not-feta. It’s not-feta because it’s Bulgarian white brined cheese. I’d assumed this was part of the Protected Designation of Origin Laws but the hot gossip is that feta was originally made in Trakia, Bulagaria and they call it sirene. I can’t pretend to know how pissed off Greeks would be about this but according to this post at Balkanalysis.com suggests they’ve had an initially antagonistic start to their relationship in the 7th Century; a brief period of amity; complications when Greece discovered that Bulgaria was only going out with it because of a bet with Romania; and then finally “strong relations.”
Read it all because it has the best bitchy caption about a British PM ever:
In 1912, British fixer J.D. Bourchier was honored with a Bulgarian postage stamp; today, Tony Blair warrants only a babushka in Sofia’s flea market.
It’s a shame Crass aren’t still around to write “How does it feel (to be not half the man J.D. Bourchier was)”
My own Bulgarian- Greek nexus occurred in 1989 (stop me if you’ve heard thins one before) when I visited Sofia. Fresh from eating my body weight in dishes with paprika cream sauce, politely drinking pepsi and red wine, and dodging tram fares in Budapest, I should have realised something was up when I became the only person with a backpack on the train. When I got off the train at Sofia station, someone made it their business to walk over to me and call me a “tourist” much like you’d call someone a variation of twat. I went there to catch up with the last known link with my family. I’m pretty sure the last visit to Bulgaria have been in the 1920’s by my grandfather. The evidence being a black and white photo of a somber group of locals who may have been at a funeral, or a wedding; hard to tell.
The address was 234-64 something something Sofia and 64 referred one of the randomly placed Stalin-style apartment blocks around town. I wasn’t deterred and had spent no small amount of time thinking about what it would be like to be welcomed back by my ancestors; the great-grandson of my great-grandfather who eloped with his fiance eighty years or so earlier. A kind soul, who spoke a little English and a bit of Russian and a bit of French and smoked Malborough Reds, found the apartment block for me and wished me well. I found the door and knocked. And knocked. And knocked. And then a neighbour came out, I said the person’s name and then the neighbour made a driving gesture and indicated that she wouldn’t be back for a few days.
In mandatory hotel room fees (with roof views) and compulsory currency exchange, Bulgaria was too rich for me and I decided to leave the next day. No pigs slaughtered; no young women giggling demurely while they worked how distant a relation, I really was if at all; and no lashings of yoghurt. I hung out in a bar in Sofia, actually it was more like a cafeteria selling beer, and the night life was surprisingly not good. The next day was shops are closed day except for the shops that didn’t seem to sell anything except skis so bought my ticket to Athens for the equivalent of three dollars.
I shared a compartment with some holidaying Poles who gave me food and then when the ticket inspector arrived I found out, as everyone pulled out large bits of paper to my small stub, that the ticket was remarkably cheap because it wasn’t a ticket but a seat reservation. The conductor thought it was pretty funny at least and rather than being turfed out in chains, I was able to buy a ticket to the Greek border with the money I hadn’t been able to spend with two lev to spare.
A day later I made it to Athens to find the last two thousand years hadn’t been quite as grand as the previous two and that if you go to the Parthenon, don’t look at your watch with a carton of orange juice in your hand, and if you got to visit the Oracle in Delphi, wear a jumper.
Anyway, the recipe is here. I used a bunch of silverbeet and a bunch of spinach (60/40 greens to cheese ratio) and finely diced a zucchini and when you rinse your greens in, make sure you lift them out of whatever you’re rinsing them in rather than pouring them, along with assorted grit, into a strainer. Then wash them again.