The Great Bulgarian Tobacco Conspiracy

I have this friend; let’s call him Joe. Now, Joe is one of those guys who have a real flair for languages. He’s conversant in probably a half dozen, and even if he doesn’t know the language inside out, if you give him a dictionary, he can noodle out the basic morphology, syntax and semantics well enough to translate pretty much any Indo-European document.

Of course this talent led to work as an interpreter, and there came a day when he was tapped for a job translating a document from Bulgarian to English because he once worked with the Mississippi Ballet Guild doing translations when they began trying to get the International ballet Competitions brought from Varna, Bulgaria, to Jackson Mississippi. It also didn’t hurt that Joe’s ancestors grew burley (cigarette) tobacco during the Depression, and he learned something about it from his Uncle Ralph. As it turns out, Joe was tapped to translate a highly sensitive report on Bulgarian burley tobacco production that had been smuggled out of the then-Iron Curtain country. It so happened that in the mid-1980s Bulgaria was leaving the U.S. in the dust with the production and marketing of burley tobacco, and if Joe happened to get caught by some chain-smoking Bulgarian with a big-caliber pistol in a dark alley, he’d be deader than hell. In the end, he got away with enough dough to take a two-week vacation in Costa Rica, which if you ask me is a splendid profit from such petty espionage.

Bulgarians like their eastern European neighbors in Hungary are pepper aficionados, and while you’re not going to find Bulgarian peppers fresh in Mississippi unless you raise your own–that carrot variety is popular among Capsicums aficionados–Hungarian wax peppers do come to market here on occasion. Joe (not quite his real name) now lives—inexplicably—in Canton, and he and his partner dropped off a sack of Hungarian wax peppers last week while they were swinging through the city.

I stuffed them with cheese for a great vegetarian nosh. For six peppers, mix one cup semi-soft farmer’s cheese broken into small pieces or grated large, one cup of a whey cheese such as ricotta or cottage (large curd) with a cup of dry hard cheese such as Romano or Parmesan and one beaten egg. You do not need to add salt to this, trust me, but it helps to add a tablespoon of cornstarch for binding. I threw some smoked red peppers in the mix simply because I had them, but any mild chili wouldn’t be out of place. Bake in a moderate oven, 350 or so, for twenty minutes. These are best served warm, not hot as you would a rellenos.


2 Replies to “The Great Bulgarian Tobacco Conspiracy”

  1. While I am something of a traditional purist here when it comes to Eastern European cuisine, we tried out Jesse’s recipe and it is quite good and I think would pass the Bulgarian mafia’s taste test!

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