Ruth: Tonight is our third night in the medieval Bulgarian capital of Târnovo. Here we have been spending our days doing two of my favourite things: exploring the sights and eating tasty food.  The Turks, Greeks and others in the Balkans argue about the origins of many of the favourite dishes served in the region, but regardless of who cooked them first the Bulgarians certainly cook them extremely well. Of course, the whole area was part of the Ottoman Empire for about 500 years. Thankfully, with Bulgarian independence in 1878 the culinary traditions were not also cast out. 

What they can do with eggplants is truly sublime. 

Although the expresso maker is making inroads, coffee is still brewed in the Turkish tradition, with the grounds and sugar mixed into the water before it is heated in a copper pot. The best coffee in Tarnovo is heated in hot sand, which prevents the burning and bitterness caused by uneven heating.  I thought it was just a bad translation when I saw a sign offering coffee on hot sand. 

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