Japanese ambassador in Bulgaria finds out sushi here is not just chi chi
Issue 49-50, October-November 2010
by Tsuneharu Takeda
I have been posted abroad many times in my career and before leaving for a new country what concerns me most is the living conditions, particularly the local food.
When it was decided that I was to go to Bulgaria, I took my family to the only Bulgarian restaurant in Tokyo, called "Sofia." We tried some Bulgarian dishes and so I already had an idea about Bulgarian food before my arrival here.
There is a rich tradition of Bulgarian food to be found all over this country; so much more variety than we experienced in Japan, and the different taste combinations and the quantities served are amazing too. I find Bulgarian traditional white cheese, or sirene too salty on its own but perfect in combination with different fresh vegetables. Food here is really absolutely delicious.
Since Bulgarian cuisine has been influenced by Greece, Turkey and other Balkan countries, there are many similarities among them. I have been most impressed by the "home-made" quality of the food, especially the meat. Tender, tasty pork and chicken are my favourites. Moreover, your country is renowned for its great variety of delicious fruit and vegetables. In Bulgaria you still have fruit and vegetables with their perfect natural taste, so difficult to find in countries like Japan. In the summer you can buy reasonably priced tomatoes which do not have such a good shape or colour but which taste excellent.
I really like eating out, but in my position as ambassador I often have to invite guests to my residence or attend lunches and dinners at the invitation of other ambassadors, officials and suchlike. So, unfortunately, I don't have as much time for eating out as I would like, but I seize every chance to try out not only Bulgarian but many other cuisines.
70 years ago, on 10 March 1943, Bulgaria's pro-Nazi government decided to defy Berlin and halt the deportation of Bulgaria's 50.000 Jews. This was down to the actions of one man - Dimitar Peshev. Just two years later he faced Communist justice and found himself on trial for his life. His niece Kaluda Kiradjieva remembers