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What is the curse of white brined cheese?

A recipe for happiness from Milena Dimitrova’s virtual dining table

Milena Dimitrova is a Bulgarian journalist, a traveler and a gourmet. She is holder of the awards – “Golden Age” for her contribution to Bulgarian culture, the “Golden Plume” of the Union of Bulgarian Journalists, as well as the international Dr. Erhard Busek – SEEMO Award for Better Understanding in South East Europe. She has specialized at Columbia College in Missouri, the US. She is author of 12 books, the latest of which is called “The curse of white brined cheese”

“I have written serious stuff when I have had the courage, the pluck and the insight to have my say, but this book is the result of the pandemic,” which “you can spend quarreling with your better half, or you can sit down and write,” says Milena Dimitrova for Radio Bulgaria.

She describes her book as “light reading, but mouthwatering all the same”, a book about “the really mundane things in life” and a book “without pretense”. But it is also “gourmand, a travel book” and is not a “classical cookbook, even though it does include recipes from all over the world”, places the author has been able to visit. She also writes about cheese, something Bulgarians cannot do without.

“We all know that “no one is bigger than bread” but there are Cuban proverbs which say that cheese – as wine and friends – have to be old. Eating it is pot luck, because as the Jewish saying goes, if you don’t have any luck, you might even break a tooth eating cheese. The Italians keep their wheels of Parmigiano cheese in bank vaults. The Balkans seem to be steeped in the smell of a dairy farms, of white brined cheese, of sheep, of things close to our hearts, of meadows. These are all intriguing examples and thoughts from “the curse of white brined cheese”. We are all cursed and we cannot do without it. I have a theory that cheese is an extension of the mother’s milk we were all nurtured on. Cheese is a kind of “umbilical cord or bond with our Balkan nature”. I won’t pretend I am not disappointed that the EU seems to recognize the Greek feta cheese, though not our own cheese – made of sheep’s milk, or fresh, or mature, or green cheese.”

In writing “The curse of white brined cheese” Milena Dimitrova says she wanted to demonstrate the love we feel when we are in our fragrant kitchen, of radiating love, of kneading this love, of fantasizing without sinning so as to attain good results in the kitchen.

“Cheese is, to me, a synonym of ambivalence, innuendo we cannot do without, but don’t want to admit it. On the other hand it is much stronger than we are. It is ingrained in us, it runs in our blood, it is something that will outlast us, humans.”

Food may not be everything but it commands the organism, the brain, our perceptions, Milena Dimitrova says. That is why in her book she describes how the human race came up with the idea of breakfast, of cheese, or chocolate. She also writes about the recipes she has never told anyone about, and the recipes of her mother, renowned journalist at the BNR for many years, Milena Dimitrova.

Photos: private library

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