Monday, November 30, 2009

Holiday Gift-Guide: Stephan Doitschinoff

As the holidays get nearer and nearer, I've got Christmas presents on my mind. I am always on the look-out for Bulgaria-related gifts that are not too obvious or nationalistic-y. I hate it when people give history books or flag-decorated objects but I also know that many of my non-Bulgarian friends are fascinated by all things Bulgarian. So I look for items that have some connection to Bulgaria but are not necessarily a proclamation of my Balkan pride (because I've got none).

This past weekend I was translating a fascinating interview with a Brazilian-Bulgarian artist that Ivailo Spasov did for Edno Magazine a few months back.

Stephan Doitschinoff's grandfather immigrated to Brazil in 1945 and settled in Sao Paolo where their family has lived ever since. Stephan's art is influenced by his religious upbringing and Brazilian folklore. I especially like his murals that he paints on the facades of old rural houses. Really amazing stuff.

Gestalten recently published an album of Doitschinoff's work and I kept thinking, wow, that would make a fantastic Christmas present. Kyle and I can never get enough of art books so I am very excited about this one.The book is available for purchase through the Gestalten website but is currently on sale on Amazon. Definitely check it out and let me know what you think!

Also, if you have Bulgaria-related Christmas gift ideas, please let me know! I think it would be really cool to put together a gift-guide to help each other out, right!


  1. One of the coolest gifts I've gotten was a hand-made recipe book - my former boss Edith (who was a great cook, and the experimental type too - she would put strawberries in an iceberg and cherry tomato salad) gave it to me.
    The best part was that not only it was her favorite recipes, but she had taken a picture of herself cooking each dish.
    So I guess you could turn this into a Bulgaria-related gift - a hand made Petya's Bulgarian favorites' recipe book - but that does take a LOT of time ... Perhaps for next year?

  2. Rose water – yep, I know it sounds tacky with all its Bay Ganyo connotations, but actually natural Bulgarian rose water beats all fancy cosmetics lotions. It smells great, it is refreshing and girls love it. It can also be used in cakes or as fragrance to cold drinking water in hot day. From any Bulgarian pharmacy.

    Sharena sol – in this case the package is more important then the product itself. Go for the old school plastic container with smiling girl on it. It inevitably stands out among the shiny Western boxes in the spices drawer. Add instructions on it such as “butter your toast, sprinkle some sharena sol and take a deep breath to enjoy its simplicity”. Look for it in the small Bulgarian groceries.

    Honey – honey is always handy. It’s good for you! In Bulgaria you rarely get it the easier way, i.e. straight from the supermarket. The trick is to find That Guy/Lady from small village who was a neighbour of your grandma, who produces it the same way for the last 50 years and who will convince you that this honey is a cure from swine flu, broken heart or whatever your pain is. Add the story to your Christmas card or if possible, a picture of the smiling honey producer. To get such honey/story you need to network among your senior Bulgarian friends and relatives.

    I’d recommend to pack your gifts in Bulgarian newspaper (Cyrilics are SO exotic!) and tie them up with satin ribbons for festive feeling :)