Bulgarian Birthday Party

This is Bulgaria and in Yambol we had been invited to a birthday party of one of Galia's friend who live just five minute walk from our house. I had been told that her husband was a hotel chef and that the food was to be scrumptious and in plentiful supply home made rakia to accompany. Actually the day had been a very bad day for me and to be quite honest I didn't even want to go but we had promised and Galia said that a few rakia in the evening would be good after such a terrible day.

The simple gift of a jersey and single flower along with a chocolate bar for their 3 year old son was taken as we walked the cobbled stones towards the house. This young Bulgarian family live right next to a Roma based neighbour hood as the live Roma music got louder and louder thinking that the music entertainment was already laid on thanks to the Roma. We turned into their street with the Roma street party in full swing and it was only 6:30 in the evening. This is a daily happening in Yambol in this area and heard from far and wide in this area. Again no one complains as the pulsating, heaving beat of the chalga was a privilege to have around - and free! I can just see many foreigners looking at the same situation and pulling their hair out. This is what happens here and to me I really can now start to see the sense in enjoying the situation rather than getting frustrated and stressed out with what before would be described as a invasion of unwanted sound in 'my space!'

The front door was approached, a red painted thick metal facade or a better term would be a barricade with no character stood before us. Well this is Roma territory perhaps even letter boxes would present a possible breach of security here.

From an outsiders point of view this was a dump of an area as the birthday house on the side of the Roma littered road that was in total disrepair, it looked like it had been ploughed up ready for winter. Somehow I knew that once inside the house it would be a complete contrast to the chaos outside just like the blocks, (tower blocks) simply beautiful well kept and very clean Bulgarian havens.

The was so true as we took our shoes off to walk on the pristine carpets and ceramic tiled floors you really felt the urge to skate on gave a heaven from hell feeling and a sense of sanctuary. The iron door was slowly closed and an antiphonal effect took place as the open air Roma concert gradually gave was to Bulgarian pop-folk music could be heard in another direction coming another room in the house.

Katia the hostess and Bulgarian birthday girl was given birthday greetings and was wished good health, good luck, good business and luck in love which is a traditional greeting after the initial birthday compliments. The gift were gratefully received and the formalities were over.

The inside of the house was completely modern, spotless with plain white walls and ceiling. As we were led into the living room area a table with food fit for a king lay both meticulously and symmetrically perfect. The snow-capped shopska salad taking the limelight amongst the other delights still in their virgin state!

Another Bulgarian couple turned up half and hour later, more friends, more talking, more food and drink and the party started for real. As always the woman worked around the men who only moved to have their pictures taken or change the music CD and the later only because the women wer in the kitchen preparing more food. To be honest that isn't entirely true, the husband like I said was a chef and all the food had been prepared by him before we arrived. This is very rare so I am told and backed up entirely with what I generally see on a daily basis.

It was now approaching 12:00 and the first occasion that the time was checked up upon, this is not important here it is how you feel and we were all full of food that just kept coming. Rakia with the salad, beer with the meat course (beautiful melt in your mouth pork with mushrooms and sauce moat around rice castle.) The dessert no less special, home baked sponge birthday cake - They save the candles for birthday during power-cuts. This was moist and delicious and a midway sweetness enough to satisfy these sweet-toothed Bulgarians but not too overpowering for me. All finally washed down with lemonade.

I said it was food fit for a king but I was worried about my Princess Galia that something would turn into a pumpkin after midnight only to discover it was my stomach was that something! The characteristic elements of a Bulgarian birthday party are the same as for any gathering of Bulgarian friends and family - food, drink, music and not least talk.

We left in the early hours of the morning and even the Roma party had run out of energy in the Yambol streets. It was only then in the dead quiet of the night with an almost full moon showing us the way home did the time seem important with work the next morning. But in true Bulgarian fashion we didn't rush home.