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Casey Angelova abandons television career in New York to grow truffles in Bulgaria

The dynamic and all-consuming world of television against an idyllic, simple, close-to-nature way of living.

Photo: Facebook /Casey Angelova

Fifteen years ago New Yorker Casey Angelova had to make a choice between living in America and leaving it for an uncertain future. To make this decision she opted to listen to her heart. And here she is today – living in the village of Gyueshevo, Bulgaria.

Being a TV producer for Discovery Channel and VH1 is a very time-consuming job. As Casey was struggling to steal some time for her family, her mind played with the idea of leaving her producer’s carrier and plunging into the adventure of a lifetime. And that is exactly what she did! She left New York to settle in her husband’s native country, Bulgaria. As time passed by she started to get a better understanding of the Bulgarian ways and opportunities. So, she mastered a number of new skills and as of today she is a farmer, chef, writer, sustainable gardening consultant, compost specialist and wine enthusiast.

“In New York had a house and money, but we didn’t have a life,” she says of her past.

“My initial idea was to work at the cinema center in Boyana, because they had plenty of American film projects,” Casey Angelova says, going back to her first job in Bulgaria. “And I did work there for a couple of years, but my heart wasn’t in my work anymore. In Bulgaria I got more in touch with nature, a got a new interest in food and agriculture. Step by step my path was changing - from TV and cinema to preparing my own food and doing things that are much more satisfying.”

One of the very first ideas of the Angelovs was to plant 800 hazelnut trees for combined cultivation of truffles. And that in the region of Kyustendil, famed for its cherry orchards! The locals weren’t hesitant to state what they thought: “You are insane,” they said.

Two years ago, though the long wait paid off with the first “black diamonds” in the family farm. “Everybody here grows cherries, but our harvest of truffles is better,” that’s what Casey has to say to the local skeptics.

For the last ten years she’s been sharing her experience and knowledge in her blog Eating, Gardening & Living in Bulgaria. Casey Angelova was one of the initiators of the Multi Kulti Collective non-profit organization for refugee integration,she was also among the founders of the Slow Food movement in Bulgaria. Her two daughters play volleyball for Bulgarian teams - the younger for Plovdiv's Maritsa and the older for Varna's DKS.

“I am an American from New York,”answers Casey when asked if she felt Bulgarian. “In the last 15 years I’ve heard people saying that we, foreigners, have come to live in their country. But at the same time they have no problem at all when my children play on the national volleyball team. Yes, I feel like I belong in Bulgaria, even though I don’t have a Bulgarian passport, and I think that everybody here likes the Americans. Besides I am lucky – unlike other foreigners, I don't face racism. I like the philosophy of Multi Kulti, because it really doesn't matter where you come from. At the end of the day, food, culture and music are the glue that holds us together so we can better understand the people of Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq.”

At the end of the day the food is most delicious when you share it with friends, sitting in your village house with a drink in your hand and enjoying the sounds and scents of nature. As for the drinks, Casey and her husband have another “crazy” idea.

“My husband and I have a plan to start making our own quality alcoholic beverages. We want to distill Kyustendilska chereshova rakia (cherry brandy from Kyustendil) and craft gin," she said. “Osogovo and Konyavska mountains are famous for their rich biodiversity and the herbs collected in them will be the secret ingredient in our gin. So if we use the fruits of Bulgaria’s nature, our drink will have the taste of our region."

Interview by Irina Nedeva, Horizont channel, BNR

Editing by Diana Tsankova

Photos: caseyangelova.com, Facebook /Eating, Gardening & Living in Bulgaria,Casey Angelova
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