Ana Rolim: “I have learned that, despite the country you come from, all of us are basically the same.”
Ana Rolim moved at a young age to Bulgaria, leaving Portugal behind. Her desire for adventure and something new led her to Sofia, an amazing city quite far from her home. She only sees Portugal has her true home, but has became quite found of Bulgarian people and culture.
1 – How old were you when you moved to Sofia? What was the main reason to move?
I was 20 when I came to Bulgaria to make an Erasmus internship.
2 – What kind of cultural characteristics have you absorbed from Bulgaria?
Bulgarian people like to hang out a lot in local bars, even during weekdays after work. They also love to travel due to the geographical location of the country.
3 – Do you think your origins have influenced people around you?
Well, kind of. Bulgarian and Portuguese people are very similar in a way, we tend to share the same behaviours and reactions. However, I can say I influence my Bulgarian friends by showing them Portuguese music like fado or cooking national dishes for them.
4 – What are the biggest challenges of living in a foreign country?
The language barrier can be a strong obstacle many times, especially when you need official documents. Also the weather can be very hard to handle if it is completely different from your country.
5 – Name the most positive aspects of Sofia.
The geographical location which allows me to travel very easily and its prices – the life here is very cheap.
6 – During this time in a foreign country what have you learned about the human being? What sets us apart from each other?
I have learned that, despite the country you come from, all of us are basically the same. I have made friends from all over the world. The cultural differences may set us apart in a way.
7 – What is missing in your home country that your current one has and vice versa?
In Portugal we are missing job opportunities, and here there are plenty of them, especially for foreigners like me. In Bulgaria we are missing the Mediterranean weather and the good food!
8 – Is there a favourite bulgarian dish you prefer?
9 – Which stereotype doesn’t make sense about Bulgaria?
People tend to think that Bulgaria is full of gipsies.. Actually, it is not.
10 – What were your biggest fears before you moved?
I also had the stereotype that Bulgarian people were not educated and that the country was a dangerous place to live. However, I found that the reality is completely different. I feel safer here than I used to feel in Lisbon.
11 – From the legal point of view, was the social framework easy? Do you have any advice for someone moving in?
If you have a Bulgarian friend that can go with you do complete all the bureaucracy, it is not so complicated.
12 – What are the greatest labor differences between Portugal and Bulgaria?
The maternity leave. Here it is up to two years.
13 – What is your favourite city spot in Sofia?
The Crystal Park in the center.
14 – Where do you feel “at home” in Sofia? Is there a specific place?
I will never feel at home, but there are many places that make me forget I am a “stranger” here.
15 – Do you have a favourite restaurant in Sofia?
Ale House. It has very good food, the staff is very friendly and usually many foreigners go there. Also the beer comes from the wall, which makes it a nice experience to go there.
16 – What is it for you to be real? / What defines you as a person?
I believe that after six years living abroad I became a much more tolerant person to others and to their differences. I am still a very energetic person who loves to discover new places.
1 whole duck, trimmed of excess fat and jointedsmall pack coriander
2 bay leaves
1 thyme sprig
1 star anise
1 leek (green top only, keep the white part for the rice)
1 onion, halved
1 large orange, zested and juiced
2 tbsp olive oilreserved white part of the leek
1 onion, sliced
1 garlic clove
250g basmati rice
100g chorizo, cubed
mint or coriander leaves, to serve
salad, to serve (optional)
Put the duck in your largest pan, cover with water and add the coriander, bay, thyme, star anise, leek top, onion, carrot, orange zest and a grinding of black pepper. Place over a medium heat and bring to the boil, skimming off any scum from the surface. Turn down the heat slightly, cover and simmer for 45 mins, then turn off the heat and let the duck cool in the stock for 15 mins. Drain the stock from the duck, reserving it to cook the rice. Leave the duck to rest until cool enough to handle, then shred the meat away from the bone.
Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/ gas 4. To make the rice, heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and sauté the leek, onion and garlic for 10-12 mins or until soft and aromatic. Add the rice and fry for 5 mins or until the grains are turning golden and crispy, and sticking to the pan. Add 400ml of the duck stock and cook for 15 mins, covered, without stirring, or until the rice is puffed and dry.
Stir the duck meat and orange juice through the rice, season, then transfer the mixture to an oiled roasting tin or casserole dish. Top with the chorizo and place on a high shelf in the oven to cook for 20-25 mins or until the rice is crisp and golden. Garnish with coriander or mint leaves, and serve with a salad, if you like.
Recipe from BBC Good Food: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/portuguese-duck-rice