You can tell fall has arrived if you can smell baked pumpkin in the street. People usually cook it at home, but in certain areas of the city, like the street stalls at the market at Graf Ignatiev Street, you can have it baked on open fire. Bulgarians usually have pumpkin with sugar or honey, cinnamon, and walnuts. If you have never tried it cooked this way, this is the place to do it for the first time.
Although banitsa is considered a breakfast, the bakeries are often open until late afternoon because this flaky savory pastry filled with cheese is so filling, that it’s perfect for a quick bite any time of the day. Add ayran (a salty yogurt drink) to it for a perfect combination of Bulgarian tastes.
The ubiquitous kebab is present in Bulgaria too, with influences from Turkey, the Arabic world and Greece competing for the hungry Sofia dwellers’ attention. Remember that if you ask for ‘kebab’ in Bulgaria, you won’t be served what you expect, as this is the name of another dish made of chunks of meat and onions. You should use the word ‘dyuner’ (due-nehr) here instead.
Summer or winter, you will see the corn street stalls all over Sofia. The corn is steamed and always hot when they serve it in a carton cup for you. There is a choice of dips and seasonings you can have on top, like Parmesan cheese, mayo, melted butter, etc.
Remember the first entry in this list? Bulgarians make use of as much as possible of the pumpkin. You can see young and elder alike munching on pumpkin and sunflower seeds in the city parks or at sports events. These particular foods have turned into a symbol of the leisure lifestyle of the locals; they can spend hours simply enjoying the seeds and doing nothing else.
Ice cream machines
The old-school ice cream machines that used to be spread all around the country have now turned into a rare sight. They spritz creamy ice cream in a waffle cone and you can only choose between classical (cream-flavored), chocolate-flavored or a mix of the two. A cone from these machines comes very cheap, usually less than a dollar.