Archive for Fish

Carp & Donkey

I have mentioned before that the ‘Mayoral’ elections are coming up and my village of Samodiva has gone down the Stalin route – Only one candidate is available to vote for.  The city of Varna on the east coast of Bulgaria though has a donkey standing for election.  He standing for the new ‘Society for New Bulgaria Party’ which is quoted when asked about their donkey candidate “….there are also several major differences. Unlike the other mayor candidates and politicians, the Donkey has a strong character, doesn’t steal, doesn’t lie, and gets work done,”.  The full story is available here.  Thanks to OH for passing that link on.  I was in the pub last night try to encourage the barmen to have his donkey stand in the village elections but no jot as yet!




Fish and chips Bulgarian style – Mirror Carp & French fries.  Before moving to Bulgaria I often went fishing and caught several carp.  Not once was I tempted to cook and eat my catch and the fish were returned from whence they came.  If you caught a carp in Bulgaria, and threw it back in the water you would be labelled an idiot and for good reason – they are delicious.  Deep fried in a light batter they are better than cod.  So if you are an angler and catch a good size carp take it home and cook it as if it were any other white fish and you won’t be disappointed.  So as Annie is over visiting thought we would visit the local chippy.  As was Annies luck and being a bit squemish the first piece of fish she tucked into was the head, complete with eyes!



A Night in The Pub

So there I was on Friday, minding my own business bottling tomatoes (not a kilner jar in sight) when Ilyas my next door neighbour
obviously thinks it is all a bit quiet for 7 o’clock on a Friday and turns up at my house with a plate full of gutted and beheaded fish from the local river
see clean pants entry here. So out comes the frying pan some flour and enough salt to raise the blood pressure
of a whale. There was obviously more fish than two people could eat so we phoned around to see who would like to come and share. Gunai back from working in
Rotterdam is keen to take up the challenge and comes armed with 8 litres of beer to add to the bottle of gin that had some how sneaked into my fridge.

One of the great things about Bulgaria is the price of booze – I know beer is bad, smoking is bad, eating salty food is bad. So what, I will die young, but I will die with a smile on my face.
Unlike all those righteous bastards, who will live to a 100 and be down right unhappy everyday of their life trying to stop me enjoying mine. Oops! Rant over, anyway
booze in Bulgaria – the gin costs less than tonic. Whats not to like!

So with the beer supply running low, and darkness encrouching in my garden we decide it is best to head to the pub, taking with us the remaining fish and
a watermelon out of my back yard.

Ilyas and Gunai at the pub

Ilyas & Gunai

Three Beer Experts

Beer, Fags, & Salty food = 3 happy men!

The fish finally got finished with the help of Halid the sheep farmer. My Bulgarian is now good enough to have a decent conversation, in fact the more beer I drank
the more fluent I became. Ilyas even speaks the odd word of Welsh ‘Yak-e-Dar’. The main topic of conversation was the making of Rakia. Which for all its
translations of brandy, whiskey is in fact nothing other than moonshine. Last year purely in the intrest of science I decided to give it go the results are here.
This year the plum/damson thingy tree (Sliven) in the garden next to mine has had a bumper crop and between me and Ilyas we have
harvested about 300kgs of fruit which is fermenting away and should be ready to be distlled in about a months time. Outside estimates are about
30 – 40 litres of loopy juice, we are considering investing in an oak barrel to mellow it a bit as well.

Plum Damson or thingy!

Not sure what they are. Sliva in Bulgarski.

On the downside with temps reaching 38C during the day, this is not the time of year to have a hangover!Ouch!

Clean Pants

It has got to the time of the year in which I take my annual bath – whether I need it or not. By which I actually mean going for a swim
in the nearby river, whilst my friends and neighbours catch fish with their hands!

The tempreature is in the mid-30’s so there is nothing quite like a good splash about in fast moving river to help cool you down, with not one pair of speedos
in sight everyone just strip down to their pants (english not american) and just jumps in.

So here are some pictures of rural Bulgaria that you will not find in any Tourist brochure, the nearest road is 3km away and it is mainly used by the
locals for fishing and picnic trips. The scenery is just amazing and these pictures don’t really do it justice. I have left out the picture of me in my
pants so as not to make anyone too envious of my bronzed adonis frame!

And from above (available on google earth)

Carp Restaurant

Just recently I have visited the next village along (Stomansi), to try out the delicacy of fish and chips
the fish being not the traditional Cod or Plaice but the the just as delicious carp. As a young boy I spent many weekend trying to catch these fish is the
local pond but had no idea that they were such good eating.

I suppose there are many foods that the British public now miss out on, due to them no longer being fashionable. Carp is certainly one of them. The restaurant
is set-up quite similar to what I imagine is a suishi reataurant in that you actually get to select the fish of your choice whilst it is still swimming round! 20
mins later it is all cooked and delivered to your table, and is absolutely delicious. Why some types of food have gone out of fashion I think has more to do
with food producers than the feeding habits of the populace. I am sure if Birds-eye made carp fingers rather cod flavoured paper mache ones then the carp would still
be present on many menus throughout the UK.

I have eaten many things on my travels, these include dry roasted ants known as ‘Ntini’ in there native Tanzania, who knows what whilst travelling around south east asia
but the availability of large insects available at the markets was unbelieveable.

The people of my village don’t seem quite as adventurous as me though and
are quite set in there ways, I have introduced some different foods when I have gone to the pub, most are politely tasted, but not coveted.
English Mustard they just don’t understand why anyone would want to destroy the flavour of beef. However I have recently introduced
them to roast parsnips, and these were an indisputable success, so much so that I have distributed 5 packets of seeds around the village so they can grow their own
this year. Yorkshire puddings next, what is not to like!

Fishing BG

My first real encounter with my neighbours didn’t really occur until I had been here a month,
yes I had said hello and been invited for coffee at all their houses, but that was about the extent of it. Then one afternoon in early Sept 2008 I decided to take a stroll around the village.
I bumped into a few people I knew and asked for directions to the nearest cafe. At the time I didn’t think there was one in the villgae. How wrong could I be. Not only was there a shop,
cafe and pub (all the same place) but they were just 200m from my front door. Though to look at the building from the outside it looked derelict. I thought it was.

The Samodiva Cafe, Pub, and Shop
This is what it looks like from the back of my house.

So off I went. On arrival I was greeted by some stalwarts of the pub who were having an early afternoon beer. Out came the phrasebook. I introduced myself, which went
down very well as I brought a round of beers with it. One of the stalwarts ‘Erjan’ claimed he spoke fluent French, so we conversed in French until I realised that his fluent
wass much worse than my grade D GCSE. They did however get the message across that they would be going fishing the next day and I would be welcome to come
along and join them. I explained that I didn’t have any fishing rods, but would love to come just for the experience. So I glad I did.

The next morning I set off in my car, picked up two other and we headeed towards the river. There we were met by 4 others, each carrying some viatal equipment for our mission.
2 bottles of mastika, 2 crates of beer, cooking utensils, salad. This I could tell was going to be my kind of fishing trip.

Not having a rod was not a disadvantage as no one else seemed to have any fishing equipment either. Then Osman produced his net. This was strung across the river (5m), everyone then got in the water
20 m upstream and chased the fish into the net. I was quite surprised at the effectiveness of this approach. Even if the fish were quite small. Larger fish were chased into the roots of
trees overhanging the river and caught by hand. I attempted this but when I eventually found a fish it startled me that much that it got away. I thought it might have been a snake.

So after an hour of splashing around in the river for an hour it was decided that we had enough for our needs, then the action really started. Two people were set to gutting and
descaling the fish, two more were put on salad duty, whilst me and Erjan decided to make a fire to cook the fish and refresh ourselves with a beer.

The fish after being gutted was battered and shallow fried, this was served along with our fresh salad (including dressing), and washed down with the tipple of your choice.
Then everyone started to make themselves comfortable. It was 3 in the afternoon very hot and everyone was a bit tipsy. To the outside world 8 slightly overweight middle aged men,
dressed in nothing but there pants, getting comfortable under a tree in the afternoon would seem perverse. Here in Bulgaria it seems it was the done thing. The snoring within 10 minutes, was
astounding. But the experience was quite out of this world.

Fishing in BG

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