Posted by: marykfurness | December 3, 2010

Food, Glorious Food!

Yes, another music reference…how can you not love something from that classic musical “Oliver”?  And in this house, we’re all about music, and all about food!  Especially at the holidays.

I grew up in a dual-culture household–dad was Bulgarian and mom was American.  So we had a real mix of foods around–Kraft mac and cheese might be on the table one night, then Dad might take half a day to whip up a moussaka, a marvelous Bulgarian casserole (some might know it as Greek or Turkish) made of layers of potato or eggplant, a meat sauce, with a white sauce on top.  There were always about 4 kinds of cheese in the fridge–I grew up on feta and a Bulgarian cheese called kashkaval, as well as processed American and Swiss!!  Dad could not cook without onions and garlic, and there was yogurt, always yogurt.  Dad made his own, in little green glass cups with lids,  placing it on his own (rather Rube Goldberg) incubating contraption.  This was on our kitchen table, and consisted of a heating pad, two blocks of wood, a cake rack set on the blocks of wood above the heating pad, and the yogurt cups set on the rack. One of Mom’s laundry baskets was turned over this, it was swathed in blankets, the pad was turned on, I believe, low, and we two kids were told, “the yogurt is sleeping”!!  We were not to run in and out of the kitchen, but step quietly and speak softly so the yogurt could sleep. It made amazing yogurt and I used to eat it with honey or jam mixed in.

Our holiday meals were a mix of Bulgarian and American as  well.  We always had a turkey…both Thanksgiving and Christmas!  All the appropriate American trimmings went with it, but Dad did a riff on sauerkraut that involved a bit of brown sugar, tomatoes, bacon or sausage, and some spices that turned sauerkraut into something completely different!  He said it was a Bulgarian thing, but I never found out what it was called. Then, for an appetizer, there was the Bulgarian version of Baba Ghanouj; Kyopolou.  Lots of eggplant, lots of garlic, all roasted and beautifully sweet and savory at the same time.  And then all sorts of things made with phyllo dough–those are just the highlights–there were many more throughout the years.

Sadly, both my parents are gone now…Dad, 13 years ago, and Mom only 3 years ago.  But I think they would be pleased to know that my husband and son enjoy the mix of Bulgarian and American foods that show up on our table; at holidays, and other days.


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