Girl Meets Bulgaria

Musings of an American expat in Bulgaria (with detours in Utah and Alaska)


My Tastebuds Are Confused!

I love food.

Unfortunately, my waistline is clear proof of this!

While I truly enjoy Bulgarian food–and my MIL’s cooking in particular–after a month or so living in Bulgaria, I really started to crave foods from home. By month three, I was already planning out the meals I would enjoy when I got back to Salt Lake City.

I am sure this is completely normal for most new expats (at least the fat kid expats like me!). Having been to Bulgaria once before, I knew what to expect (or not expect, as the case may be) as far as the cuisine was concerned.

For instance, I now know (and begrudgingly accept) that pizza in Bulgaria is its own special concoction of ingredients. Pizza is one of my favorite foods, so going to Bulgaria and not finding anything that I liked was a disappointment. Making our own homemade pizza was the only way to get around this, and now we rarely eat in any pizza restaurants. I just can’t get over the “popular” Bulgarian pizza toppings: corn, cut up hot dogs, cream cheese, pickles, etc.

Besides plain ol’ pepperoni pizza (with mozzarella, NOT Bulgarian “yellow cheese”) on thin crust, some other cravings that hit hard during my three months in BG include: Mexican (which I don’t really care for that much at home–weird), Cheetos (the Puff variety), sandwiches of any kind, and salads chock full of different veggies.

The funny thing is, since I have been home I haven’t really eaten most of it. And the few things I have had, I really did not enjoy. I no longer crave those things I missed for months in Bulgaria.

I guess it just comes down to wanting things that I cannot have. And now that I have them available to me, I have no desire.

In fact, my first meal at a restaurant since I have been back was so salty I could barely finish it. I have found that to be the case with most foods I have had since arriving home. Clearly I am not used to so much salt as Bulgarian food contains so little (at least the foods my MIL made).

My MIL made every single meal we ate in Bulgaria from scratch: bean soup, lentil soup, patatnik, kufteta, salads, etc. Heck, even her donuts were fresh from the fryer.

While I didn’t lose as much weight as I expected I would these past three months; I did lose a few pounds and felt much healthier overall. Really what I benefited from–thanks to my husband’s lovely mother–was an abundance of fresh, homemade, nutritious, and delicious food. These things beat the packaged and processed foods prevalent in America any day.

The past few days, I have found myself looking up Bulgarian recipes online. I think at some point this month I will try my hand at patatnik and at least one other dish.

Clearly I am {again} pining for the things I cannot have. But the difference now is that I am comfortable enough with the grocery stores here to go and buy the things I need to cook certain meals. Oh, and I have a kitchen to myself; not like our apartment in BG, which was my MIL’s domain.

Can you tell I am already really missing Bulgaria?

I will be sure to write posts on any dishes I actually get around to making.

Hoping you are all having a fantastic weekend!


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Rainbow Cake: Round Two

I was spending some time with my favorite almost-5-year-old this weekend, when it occurred to me that making a rainbow cake might be a fun Labor Day weekend activity. I had been wanting to try it again and thought she would get a kick out of it. I mean what kid doesn’t love all things colorful?

Three trips to the store, a detour to play with my dogs, and several hours later, we were baking away.

She stuck around just long enough to stick her hands in the dry cake mix and lick the beaters.

My Little Helper

This time around I didn’t make Omnomicon’s “diet cake” recipe. Rather, I went the lazy and fattening route and just followed the regular cake mix instructions and used the ever healthy frosting-in-a-can.

It went together quickly, the most time-consuming part being the mixing and layering of colored batter.

So colorful!

It was a breeze to frost, even with the annoying domed shape of the cakes (I recently came across Wilton’s Bake Even Strips-must buy some and give them a try). The actual cake itself turned out a little crumbly, but still really good tasting and oh-so-cute!

We ate the cake today for my Aunt’s birthday. It was quite adorable, if I do say so myself. Maybe not the most appropriate cake for a grown woman’s birthday, but it would be great for a child’s event or for cupcakes.


I’d still like to perfect the cake, so I can’t say this will be the last attempt. I’m also pretty keen on making a “zebra” version with black/brown and white layers of chocolate and vanilla.

I must also add: I fully recognize the utter “artificialness” of this desert. It is, after all, made with a boxed cake mix, canned frosting, and food coloring (albeit a minimal amount). Obviously, it’s not the most healthy thing in the world, but it’s fun to make and tastes pretty good. So, don’t leave me comments about how this is the devil on a plate. Don’t like it? Don’t make it!