Bulgaria is popular around the world with its beautiful women, yogurt and rose’s butter. However, there is one more thing – the Shopska salad (also known as Bulgarian salad), which is one of the most consumed in our country. Preparing is easy and all foreigners like this salad. That is why “Shopska salata” (it is bulgarian prononsiation) is among the first phrases that guests learn in Bulgarian language.
How to make Bulgarian salad?
We are sure that every Bulgarian can answer to this question. It contains finely chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, roasted or raw peppers and onions, a little bit oil and a little vinegar, and all is covered with grated or crushed cheese and finely chopped parsley. It looks a lot like a Greek salad, but the vegetables are not wholesale, therefore the different tastes are mixed. However, the Bulgarian salad is an interesting mix of flavors and that is what appeals to everyone.
The history of Bulgarian salad
For the first time, the term „Shopska salad” has been featured in a cookbook since 1940, but in practice it is a recipe for Luthenica (vegetable relish – peppers, aubergines, carrots, garlic, vegetable oil, sugar, salt, and tomatoes). Totally different from the familiar Shopska salad nowadays. It was not until 1956 the recipe of the Shopska salad began to approach our present idea of it, but it is without cheese.
In the years that followed, various variations began to emerge. A cooking book from 1970 shows four options – with onion and cheese; without onions and with cheese; with roasted peppers and cheese; without sweet but with hot peppers and cheese.
The Shopska salad has established itself as a national culinary symbol in the 1970s and 1980s. There is the same salad in Serbian and North Macedonia’s restaurants, too. The salad is also known in Romania under the name Salată bulgărească (Bulgarian salad). Shopska salad is also quite popular in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. It is on the menus of the establishments, but with slight changes – no roasted peppers and sometimes no onions. In Slovakia, they serve the salad with sugar.
How has been the Shopska salad invented?
The idea for the Bulgarian salad is from 60s of the last century. Contrary to expectations, it did not come from a village, but from the Bulgarian state association Balkantourist, whose chefs created it at the Chernomorets restaurant in the then Druzhba resort (now St. Konstantin and Helena).
Fear of red tomatoes
In fact, the village avoided the usege of red tomato because it was considered for bad. Therefore, ripe red tomatoes had been served primarily as animal feed or had been discarded directly. However, such fear is not only a Bulgarian phenomenon, but it has also existed in other Western European countries in the 18th and 19th centuries.
In the Netherlands and Denmark, for example, in the past, red tomatoes had been believed to be poisonous. The reason for this is that the high-lead metal vessels used at that time were widely used. In contact with them, the acid in the tomatoes allows the vessels to secrete harmful substances, which leads to indigestion.