Archive for tradition

Stuff Bulgarians Like: Dinner parties

Posted in LIFESTYLE with tags , , , , on March 14, 2008 by insidestory

Each and every visitor in Bulgaria, who manages to make some friends here, finds it very fascinating how much Bulgarians love dinner parties. Actually, Bulgarians love not only dinner parties, but all kinds of parties that include eating and drinking.

They love them so much, that they prolong them for four to five hours…

You think I’m joking? Believe me, I’m not. the local custom of going “na gosty ” ( [na’gosti], means to visit) is very important and includes sitting around the table, eating, drinking, and most importantly, talking for several hours. If you are invited to a “na gosty” in somebody’s home, my advice is not to refuse: you will have a unique opportunity to meet different people and spend the evening in a nice atmosphere.

So, you go to the place and you are welcomed by the hosts. What to do next?

The only downside is that if you do not drink alcohol or you are vegetarian or vegan, you will find yourselves in a tough situation. The typical na gosty begins with sitting on the table and drinking the traditional rakya at the very beginning. This is a strong grape or plum brandy, which in small towns is most often homemade (because each family believes their homemade brandy is way better than the one you can buy in the stores). The brandy is served with different types of salads and pickles, but they are only appetizers. Not drinking and not participating in the frequent toasts is not acceptable, so if you want to fit in well, just be a man and sip. You might as well like it ;)

The meals that follow the rakya are abundant and tasty. Usually, there will be soup, lots of appetizers (salads, sliced meats and cheeses, nuts), meals and a dessert, all served with wine, sodas and other beverages. Your refusal to eat meat and will result in rather disturbing and uncomfortable glances from the hosts.

The emphasis on this initial booze boost at the beginning has a very simple explanation: it helps the conversation. Talking is the main reason people gather and basically that’s what they do the whole evening. This is not the typical small talk during dinner parties you are used to: people talk about a vast variety of things, sometimes quite passionately. Family, local and world politics, and of course soccer are most frequent though.

After the desert people continue to drink, eat appetizers and talk for a few more hours, which can easily turn in to “until sunrise”. If you manage to endure till the end people will recognize you as a real homeboy, but if you’re not feeling badass enough it is acceptable to leave anytime after the main meal )

Peter Stoykov