Thursday, July 18, 2013

Adventures in Bulgaria, Part Two: Daily life

Every morning I wake up when the sun shines into my window over the top of the grape arbor, which is level
with the house below   My room is up a flower-lined flight of stairs, and has also an outside room where I can sit and have coffee, paint, and read the daily offices.  I have Bulgarian coffee every morning, which is like Greek or Turkish coffee, except that they put in more water, so it's kind of like a cafe Americano, except way, way better.  In this photo of the table, you will see the Bulgarian coffee pot.  You will also see a jar of jam Ginche made from peaches out of their orchard.  Today, though, breakfast was strawberry jam,served with crepes and goat cheese.  Yummy!!
Then I can walk across the street to Michael and Stella's courtyard to hook up with the internet and catch up on emails and facebook and write this blog. It's a wonderful place to study for my first class this fall, on Liturgics.  The silly little computer I bought doesn't seem to have any program for typing documents, so I'm writing my first paper by hand. This picture is looking up and across the street from Georgi and Ginche's gate   Stella and Michael's is where you see the white house up on the left side of the street.  They have a peach orchard behind their fence, which is just beginning to drop ripe peaches.
On the left of this view of their courtyard is a stone sink and a flower and vegetable garden.  Above is the grape arbor, shading the courtyard.  I think that just about everyone here has a grape arbor.  In Bulgaria they don't waste any space on grass.  Every square centimeter is planted in something productive, so the overhead shade yields grapes, which are put to good use in making wine and rakia (distilled from fruit wine, such as peach, plum, or grape).  It's like brandy, only has a lovely real fruit flavor behind its high octane fire-water!

Ginche and Georgi and probably everyone who lives
in small-town Bulgaria, not only have a sink outside, but also cook outside.  For small things, such as making soup or coffee or crepes, they use a propane tank that has a burner on top of it.  For larger things, such as for canning pickles, they use a bigger woodburning stove.  Here you see the seven jars of pickles cooling on top of a tree stump, with the stove and the steaming canner behind.  They put in onion, peppercorns, and dill, then pack in the little cuumbers, then salt and vinegar, and more dill on top, fill the jars with water, and clamp on the sterilized one-piece lids with rubber seals inside them, and process the filled jars in the canner, bringing to a boil and boiling for 20-25 minutes, just as we would do.  I can't wait to try this recipe to see how it tastes with onion and peppercorns instead of garlic.  I'll bet they are really good!!  We live in the courtyards and only go in to get things we need
to bring out for setting the table or tools for working.  The rooms are cool for sleeping, because the houses are built of adobe and well shaded.  Here you see the table where we eat every meal, and behind it is the sink.  Then behind the courtyard wall is an outer courtyard and the barns.  They have chickens, turkeys, two dogs, a pig, and a goat.  Absolutely nothing is wasted.  The dinner plates are scraped into a bucket with the water used to rinse them, and this is fed to the pig.  Peelings and other scraps are fed to the chickens & turkeys, and meat scraps are fed to the dogs.  The outer courtyard is swept every day, and you do not wear your street shoes into the inner courtyard, but have flip-flops or slippers.  We take even these off to go barefoot in the house.  Everything is immaculate and beautiful.  The table cloth we use every day, for example, has hand-crocheted lace around the hem.  This is not unlike the Kingman County farm culture I grew up in, and which some of you Kingman folks will recognize.

So, dear friends, I am learning Bulgarian as fast as I can.  I have learned the sounds of all the Cyrillic letters, the numbers up to five, the colors, and the names of all the fruits, vegetables, and animals we are growing and eating.  I am sure that when I come home, you will see me healthy from living here.  At first they wouldn't let me help do the work, but Ginche and Georgi were getting worn out and I was getting bored silly.  Stella had to explain to them that Americans like to help with the work when they visit, and don't like it if they aren't allowed to.  This allowed them to allow me to do it, and we are all much happier now.

No comments:

Post a Comment