The Country Food Similarity Index is a statistically-based attempt to quantify how similar the food in one country is relative to another. By comparing the weight of raw food ingredients used in each country, a score is assigned that reflects the degree of similarity between the respective countries. The methodology is exactly the same for each country studied.
The Most Similar Cuisines to Bulgarian Food
The top four nations with the most similar food to Bulgaria are located in the Balkans. These countries emphasize the use of fresh and locally sourced ingredients. Seasonal vegetables, dairy products, and meats play a central role in their respective cuisines. Bread is a staple in the diets of these countries, and they share a love for various types of bread and pastries.
- Romania is another country that borders the Black Sea. It is located just to the north of Bulgaria. The two countries share a love for yogurt and dairy products. A Bulgarian dish called “banitsa” is reminiscent of Romanian cheese-filled pastries. Additionally, both countries feature grilled meats as a central element of their cuisines.
- Montenegro‘s coastal location along the Adriatic Sea brings a Mediterranean influence to its cuisine. This is reflected in the use of olive oil, seafood, and herbs—a similarity with Bulgaria’s Black Sea influence. The use of stuffed vegetables is a common theme in Balkan cuisine, and both Montenegro and Bulgaria have their versions of this dish.
- Croatia and Bulgaria share a love for burek, a pastry filled with meat, cheese, or other savory ingredients. Grilled meats are common in both cuisines, and Croatia’s coastal location also brings a focus on seafood. Hearty stews and casseroles are present in both Croatian and Bulgarian culinary traditions as well.
- Serbia is on the western border of Bulgaria. Both predominately Orthodox Christian countries tend to eat a lot of pork and chicken. In addition, various vegetables form the foundation of many traditional dishes. These nations also eat maize porridges and have their own versions of cabbage rolls.
- France is the only country outside the Balkans on this list. However, its cuisine still has many similarities to Bulgaria’s. Pastries are common in both countries. Cheese is also a significant component in their cuisines. These countries have a tradition of using diverse and high-quality ingredients as well.
The Least Similar Cuisines to Bulgarian Food
Four of the five countries with the least similar food to Bulgaria are landlocked nations located in Africa. The climate in these countries is also significantly warmer. This affects what type of crops are grown in these countries. Moreover, these countries are far less developed than Bulgaria. They are also not as wealthy, so their diet has less meat.
- Chad is another landlocked country in the middle of Africa. The country is mostly Muslim. Sorghum and millet are the two most commonly consumed grains there. These crops are well adapted to the Sahel’s harsh climate. Beef is the most popular meat, but lamb meat is also often eaten there. Peanuts and sesame seeds are also popular.
- Central African Republic was once a colony of France before becoming independent. Cassava and yam are two of the most commonly eaten staple ingredients in the country. Furthermore, taro and bananas make up a much greater share of the diet in Central African Republic than in Bulgaria.
- Micronesia is a group of small islands in the Pacific Ocean. The country’s isolation has limited its exposure to foreign influences. Coconuts are a huge part of their cuisine. In addition, rice and cassava are the two most commonly eaten starches in Micronesia.
- South Sudan is a located to the east of Central African Republic. Cassava accounts for the largest part of the country’s diet, however South Sudanese eat their share of sorghum as well. Beef is the most commonly consumed meat in the South Sudan, while pork and chicken are more popular sources of protein Bulgaria.
- Burundi is another landlocked country in the tropical regions of Africa on this list. Its diet is in large part based on cassava, sweet potatoes, plantains, and bananas. Very little potatoes or wheat are eaten in Burundi, compared to Bulgaria.
Bulgaria’s Most Common Food Ingredients
Protein: Pork, Chicken
Fruit: Watermelon, Banana
Vegetable: Tomato, Chili Pepper
Starch: Wheat, Potato
Primarily based on 2020 data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.