Rocky Heart Your Ultimate Fighting Bulgarian Food and Drink Critic Pacifist declares “Boza (Бoза) as the newest member of the Axis of Evil.”
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
This weeks Bulgarian Food/Drink Item of the Week (BFDIW) is Boza.
As always we will first start off with the facts. Boza is a drink in Bulgaria that is commonly drunk in the morning along with banitsa. In fact Boza is the Bulgarian drink equivalent to banitsa (read BFDIW I for an understanding of the place banitsa has in the Bulgarian society).
Boza has a long documented history in the Balkan region and Turkey. Boza enjoyed wide popularity up until the 16th century when it was made illegal by the Ottoman Empire because it contained alcohol and bans in some way shape or form on the beverage remained in place until 19th Century. But it was noted, that in 17th Century Istanbul, there were 300 Boza shops employing over 1000 people. The bans on Boza were later lifted and it is once gain widely drunk in these regions. (Sidenote: In regards to Boza, prohibition was not a bad idea even though it did not work. Power to the people I guess. End sidenote.)
Every country makes it a little different. According to the best source on the Internet, Wikipedia says that Bulgarian Boza is like Albanian Boza. Albanian Boza is made, “of maize (corn) and wheat flour, sugar and water.” My bottle says it consisted of wheat, rye, and water. One litre of Boza contains a thousand calories, four types of vitamins A and B, and vitamin E. During fermentation lactic acid, which is contained by few foods, is formed, and this facilitates digestion.
Those are the historical and production facts on Boza. But you maybe asking yourself, what truly is Boza? Simply put Boza is evil in a bottle. I can only assume that the stuff running under the streets of New York and which engulfed the museum in Ghost Busters II would smell and taste and with a little pink food coloring look like Boza. In fact now that Iraq has been rid of its weapons of mass destruction, I am formally going to petition our president to replace Iraq with Boza in the Axis of Evil. The new Axis of Evil will look like this: Iran, North Korea, and Boza.
I went to the best source I could find, my fellow PCV’s, to get an accurate description of the taste of Boza for you.
“George Vaflington says drinking boza is like drinking a warm glass of rubber cement without all the headaches and demons.”
“I only tried it once and my opinion is that is was like thin gravy, smelled like a sick child from my past, and tasted incredibly like it smelled.” Joan
“My host mom tried to feed it to me. It's similar to the consistency of a shake. I don't even know if I can begin to describe the taste - it's sickeningly sweet and wheaty at the same time. The texture is enough to make you gag if the taste doesnt get you. Also, sipping it through a straw DOES NOT make it taste any better.” Emma
“it's like they took the left over milk from your bowl of coco puffs and mass produced
it....seriously, when i even hear the word boza i wanna yak.” Rajun
“boza! ohbojay!” Wil (Obviously they drink in the morning in Bourgas.)
“I always describe it as sweet cold fermented gravy........and its better not to smell it before you drink it otherwise it may not stay down.” Cyndi
“Boza the other brown liquid” (Chase)
“Sort of like drinking a pureed can of baked beans.” Jason
"Boza tastes like sugar frosted wheat cheerios after having been left in bowl of milk in the sun for several days. It is simply disgusting." (Dude from a place that is the sound a bird makes + an)
“I haven't had the real thing ever, just the "stand in" that the cleaning ladies provide (they swear that's what it is), but I would say it tastes like carbonated sweet wheat.” Jess
“I am sorry that this is your topic. Boza is basically the grossest thing on the planet. I feel like I am drinking fermented bean juice. Who would drink fermented bean juice? It's almost like they tried their hand at refried beans and then failed miserably because they realized they were using wheat. I don't know. All I know is that I hate Boza with the fiery passion of 1000 suns.” Barb
“To a Southerner, it may remind them of pinto beans, cooked using a ham bone” Steve
Except for Wil’s, I would have to agree with the assessment provided by my fellow PCV’s. You may be thinking that there is no way it smells as bad as it tastes, but you would be wrong. For you see, I worked at a grain elevator (for those not from a small town, a grain elevator is where farmers take their grain to sell) and the grain would slip off the conveyor belts and fall on the ground. After a while a pile would form and then it would become wet and then moldy and then rat infested. It was my job to shovel this. Keep in mind that there is not a lot of room where I am working. So I am completely engulfed by this smell of rotting grain. It has been five years since I had this job and I had not smelled anything close to that until I opened a bottle of boza.
But like every credible blogger, I needed to do more research on the topic, so I on banitsa Wednesday’s purchased a bottle of boza for 50 stoltikni and brought it to work. In order to provide further insight I invited my Buglarian counterpart to share in the experience.
First with banitsa in hand we nazdrave (cheers). The reason I am smiling is because my counterpart for a second convinced me that it was not that bad, so I am trying to take a positive attitude into the experience.
My counterpart imbibes first. Bulgarians love this stuff.
Next is my turn. Here goes nothing. This is what I look like when I am hating life.
Victory over evil! (I seriously imbibed a full glass.)
Now that I have drunk my last drop of boza ever, I find myself able to reflect on the finer points of the drink. There are two that come to mind.
The first is that boza is widely believed to enlarge breasts size. You make think that I am making this up, but I have been told on many of occasions that when I go back to America I must take back a crate of boza with me. In fact, I found this article online which serves as proof that this is true.
Breast boosting beer sells like hot cakes
“EUROPEAN men are flocking to Bulgaria to buy "breast-boosting beer" after the country's accession to the EU has meant that customs duties on the tipple have been abolished.
The millet-based ale called Boza allegedly makes women's breasts bigger, but was previously expensive. Now thousands of tourists are traveling to the Bulgarian border town of Ruse to buy Boza for their wives and partners.”
Was this one of the contributing factors in addition to Bulgaria being awesome that helped with getting into the EU? Interesting question if you ask me.
In order to test this theory, I took a before and after shot. The results speak for themselves.
The other fine point of boza is that to love Bulgaria, which I have grown to, is to love boza. So Boza, you me be evil, but you are an evil that I love. We may have had our last dance, but it is a dance that I will never forget.
Til the next episode,
Your Ultimate Fighting Bulgarian Food and Drink Critic Pacifist
Posted byKellen Utecht at 11:18 AM