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A Bulgarian folklore singer Stoyan Varnaliev prepares Thracian meals `Sol Piper` Magazine
10 July 2004

The fans call him `Orpheus from Yambol`. Stoyan Varnaliev is one of those Bulgarians, who are endowed with rich voice, and believe performing of folklore songs is a mission of them. He is a student of the recognized Thracian singer Valkana Stoyanova, who passed more than a hundred authentic Thracian songs on to him. One part of them she had preserved, but never recorded. Some of the songs tell about shepherds and rebels, and while one listens he feels as though he could smell the baking lamb in the Mountain.

The first CD with folklore songs of Stoyan Varnaliev was released by the prestigious music company "Gega New", which is claiming to release not only all the Bulgarian opera stars, but also the best musicians in all genres.

Stoyan has made concerts and recordings in a number of countries, from Japan to Georgia. In Georgia he recorded a song, which he sang in Bulgarian, and Georgians were chanting. Soon this song will be played on our radios.

Besides the singing of folklore songs, Stoyan Varnaliev impresses on everyone with his authentic costume from Yambol Bulgarian region and with his culinary skills of preparing Thracian meals. Valkana Stoyanova herself told him an original recipe of the famous Yambol milinki (cheese buns): 500gr yoghurt, a tea-cup of milk, a teaspoon of baking soda, a bit of bread yeast, 1-2 spoons of sunflower oil, 2-3 eggs, a spoon of sugar, salt, and as much flour as it is necessary for kneading soft dough. The juice for the topping, which should be thick one, is made of butter (75gr), sunflower oil, a teaspoon of salt, and an overfull spoon of flour. You should oil very well your hands when kneading the dough, in order it doesn’t stick. It is best the dough be long kneaded and beaten on the table until bubbles appear in it. Then tear little pieces from it, as big as a walnut, put them in a baking dish, and leave them to rise. When they rise, make little concavity over every piece and leave them to rise again. Finally cover them with the topping juice, made of butter, and put them to bake in the already hot oven.

What Stoyan most vividly remembers from his childhood is his grandmother’s delicious banitsa (cheese-pie). It is made in different way in every different region in Bugaria. In his native village General Inzovo the twisted banitsa, with cheese and eggs, is first covered with a cloth and `left to go round the fields` (as in the story about the wheat-cake - one of the well-known Bulgarian folklore stories). Only then you can eat it, with `armuzum` (sauerkraut brine with baked red chilli peppers). The other granny’s pleasure is called `kartalatsi` - made of sheets of dough, with cheese and eggs enveloped in them, and baked over the hot-plate of the oven. When ready they are coverd with melted butter or lard. Something similar to these Stoyan had in Georgia, but they tasted differently – fried cakes filled with cheese.

The Georgians amazed him with their toasts – they drained in a gulp their glasses of white wine and sang all during the eating, making it a real feast. The products and the vegetables did not differ from the Bulgarian ones, only that the spices made the food taste differently.

Most exotically Stoyan felt himself in Japan, where on a gas-cooker, right before the eyes of the client, an octopus is being boiled, and the chef serves you a combination of fried sweet eggs and sour-salted rise, enveloped in seaweeds, then sliced and garnished with uncooked fish and soy sauce. The soups, on the other hand, are clear ones and can be drunk directly from the bowls. The well-refined and extremely noisy sipping is believed to be a way of showing one’s satisfaction from the good tasting of the food, and is made out of respect for the hosts.

No matter, however, in which place of the world Stoyan finds himself, he sings the Thracian song `Pil Bogdan cherveno vino ` (Red wine Bogdan drank). It best represents the Thracian table and makes everybody in a good mood.

Sol Piper - Magazine
Text: Galina Ruleva
Photos: Dimitar Rulev
Translation: Slaviana Miteva