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Cuisine from the Black Sea

Cuisine in the Black Sea region is an interesting mix of Mediterranean and Central European, where you’ll get lighter fare such as grilled seafood and fresh vegetable dishes alongside more bracing soups and stews. Whatever you do, pay attention to the dairy products; the simple cheeses, yogurt, and sour cream of this region are unparalleled.

Over time the ancient Greeks, the Germanic Saxons, the Turks, and its Slavic and Magyar neighbors have influenced the kitchen in Romania. A traditional Romanian meal may include appetizers of assorted cheeses and cured meats and salamis along with vegetable pates, and then a sustaining soup. Favorites are meatball or tripe, and of course vegetable soup. Common fish are grilled, brined carp, Black Sea sturgeon and herring; meat can be grilled but is popular stewed with onions. Mixed sautéed vegetables or stuffed cabbage leaves balance out the diet, and then of course there’s dessert. Pastries filled with sweetened curd or cream cheese and flavored with raisins, seeds or nuts are what your sweet tooth can happily anticipate.

Mealtime in Bulgaria is almost certainly going to includebrightly colored salads made with vegetables and pulses and one of many delectable soups – mushroom, chicken, fish, or a cooling cucumber yogurt potion in the summertime. Veal, pork and chicken are the most common meats consumed, alternately grilled, minced and spiced, or in rich stews and “one pot” meals with vegetables. Let’s not forget the bread to mop up the rich flavors you wouldn’t want to leave in the bowl or on the plate. Dairy products are ubiquitous, in snacks such as banitsa and in many desserts filled with creamy or curd cheeses. If you need a little sustenance so you can take in a few more sights, it’s time for a piroshki, a little savory filled pastry, from a cart on the square.

Cuisine in Turkey is a mix between Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influences with a dash of African and Russian and infinitely delicious. What Turkish cooks do with vegetables defies description, as a mezze (appetizer) selection will show you: tahini-laced hummus, smoky eggplant salad and hot, crispy cheese borek, for instance. You’ll find a wide assortment of kebabs, sometimes best eaten standing up at a stall after a night out, and loads of fish and seafood along Turkey’s long coast. Your most satisfying “comfort food” could be lentil soup brightened with lemon or manti, a tiny stuffed pasta served in yogurt sauce with acidic sumac sprinkled on top. Leave room for a sampling of fabulous little pastries in the afternoon: nuts, butter, filo dough, rose water and honey do a sugary dance of delight on your palate.

 

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