Food from a Bulgarian Baba

I live with Baba now during the day. Galia is out to work early ‘till late and I am writing with Baba Mama doing her busy woman about the house trick everyday.

She is 84 and doesn’t stop going back and forth from chores in the kitchen to sweeping the yard, watering the garden, putting the washing out. She starts at 7:00 in the morning and doesn’t stop until bedtime.

There is a rest at around 1:00 – 2:00 where she gets her head down for a little snooze but that’s where it ends. Even when she is sitting down her hands are busy sewing, knitting or repairing something.

What Baba can’t understand is why I don’t slow down and eat and sleep every couple of hours. She doesn’t understand that a Bulgarian man is very different to a Englishman. I always remember going back nearly tow years ago when she saw me vacuuming the front room…… she was in tears as she had never seen anything like it in her 80 odd years in Bulgaria.

I know now that every time the clock goes past midday she pokes her head around the corner of the kitchen area where I work and tell me I’m hungry. To be fair I start work at 8:00 after having given Galia a lift to work so she knows that a fair morning work has been done at this point.

The first week this routine came into play I Baba didn’t get any sleep, she was too shy and humble to tell me that her sleeping sofa was being occupied by my posterior working on the laptop. Little did I know that I was in the way of her routine until Galia found out and told me one evening. Now I move into another room for the rest of the day to give her a well earned forty-winks but not before she has prepared me food and drink whether I want it or not.

Now Baba is a tried and tested cook and there isn’t anything she prepares that isn’t home cooked and natural. Base ingredients all from the market or from my own Skalitsa farm. She is a superb cook and I cannot ever remember not liking anything she has prepared.

There is a little wariness about how long the food it kept as Baba always used the big pot to make lots – it is a question of economic cooking energy wise. There has been food, meat at that, which has been standing around for 4 or 5 days. This used to worry me immensely at first – is it my own British standards that have brainwashed me into thinking that everything has be eaten with two days or you die fo food poisoning? Yes I think it is, a ploy by global food producers to make you buy more putting the fear of God into you if you didn’t! I digress….

Baba totters along to prepare the food and she now has come to accept that a microwave we bought for her last year has its uses. It took her almost a year to the day to come to terms and understand what she can and can’t put in it and that was from experience not instruction! Now she can’t get enough of it but all she has learnt is how to cook pop corn in it! The little bottle gas stove is still used religiously as before and used for the original cooking using the big pot.

Today for the third day running and the fifth meal we had chicken, bean and potato stew and never in a million years would I get bored with that. The bones as after ever each meal is given to Alex the dog, our neighbour’s doorbell.

Each day Baba lays the table and never a day goes by where raw garlic, fresh bread and green salad is positioned next to the main meal. The most delicious combination and compliment to any meal. Drink accompaniment is Ayran made from yoghurt made in Skalitsa from my neighbour’s fresh cow milk. Baba loves Ayran along with all three generations of family living here.

Spoilt? Yes but in this day and age of fast food how lucky am I to get traditional food derved up the most respectful and experienced cook. Something now she is handing down to me so long may it continue to live on.

Baba has such a variety of cooking skills and recipes that now after a while of Bulgarian routine the sleeping habit after lunchtime meals is beginning to have an affect on me. A lie down after her fantastic food is something that just seems so natural to do. Unlike before where no break and no food was taken, a habit picked up from England now finally beginning to be laid to rest.