My recent experience of Trillium Natural Foods in Lincoln City on the Oregon coast, made twentysomething years after I came to the US, threw into relief colorful strands in the weave of my Bulgarian-American identity.
I had learnt of co-op stores soon after my arrival in this country. I was having a conversation with Will, a fellow graduate student, about my plans for my first Christmas in the States. My Bulgarian roots held firmly to an idea of a strictly set traditional Bulgarian menu: vegetarian bean stew; rolls of pickled cabbage stuffed with rice and dill; and phyllo dough pastry filled with roasted pumpkin, walnuts, and raisins, sweetened with honey, and flavored with cinnamon and cloves. I quickly got immersed in a complicated and somewhat tangled explanation that I had preceded with the statement, “I don’t like the taste of beans and pickled cabbage, but I must have them at Christmas.” I followed this with a passionate description of the above dishes that the Bulgarian in me felt compelled to prepare pretty much from scratch.