If you’ve ever heard the Torlaks dialect, you probably remember that you didn’t understand anything. And we did not understand anything on our first contact with this bizarre and authentic Bulgarian community, which inhabits about 30 mountain villages in Vidin and Montana from Salash and Stakevtsi through Chuprene to Chiprovtsi and Govezhda. The Torlaks are the people in white clothes, whose origins are still disputed by scientists. Some define them as heirs of the ancient Thracians, others see in them descendants of proto-Bulgarian warriors. The faith of Christ unites Orthodox and Catholics to build schools, churches, and monasteries here. They call these silent, closed, and strange people Torlaks.
And what is Torlaks cuisine? Poor and lean, but tasty and healthy with dishes such as pickles, potatoes, nettle, “kerkele”, “bel muzh” – all names of dishes. The most popular is “bel muzh”, which is made from sheep’s, cow’s, or goat’s unsalted cheese, which is fried, and flour is added to it.
The Northwestern region is one of the little known to tourists in gastronomic, wine, and cultural terms. It stretches between the Danube, Iskar, and Stara Planina. There are traces of human presence here from 1.4 million years ago. From prehistoric times are the famous wall paintings in the Magura cave. During the Roman Empire, the region experienced a real boom, and many new cities appeared along the Danube.
“Vrachanski Balkan” Nature Park in the Western Stara Planina is the second largest in Bulgaria. Belogradchik rocks are one of the wonders of the world – sculpted by wind and rain more than 200 million years ago. In the wonderful Northwest is the only fully preserved medieval castle in Bulgaria – the fortress “Baba Vida” in today’s Vidin.
The tradition of producing Chiprovtsi carpets is inscribed on the UNESCO list as part of the intangible cultural heritage. Chiprovtsi carpets are made from the wool of rams of the Replyanski sheep breed, so in the past well-developed carpet weaving flourished here.