Back in 1965, Grandmother Angelina Dimova known in the village as “Baba Gina” had the most beautiful garden with red peppers in the whole village. So many peppers were growing in the garden that Grandma Gina didn’t know what kind of meal to prepare first. On the first day she made stuffed peppers, then red peppers with vinegar and garlic, then summer stew… still a lot of peppers had remained.
Then "Baba Gina" had a thought and she began to make Ajvar.
She gathered the housewives from the village to help her. Knowing that "Baba Gina" makes the most beautiful ajvar in the village, they all came hoping that she will reveal her secret to them. "Baba Gina", always cautious and neat, gave different assignments to each of them. When the peppers were gathered and cleaned, "Baba Gina" started the fire, prepared the stove and set the peppers on it. As "Baba Gina" was baking the red peppers while humming and smiling, the housewives watched her every move with attention. To watch her cook was the biggest wish of every housewife. She was always making new dishes avoiding the strict rules of the recipes and every single dish she had prepared was a true masterpiece. What she was doing was art. Once again she surprised everyone with the preparation of the Ajvar. Until then, everyone was boiling the peppers to prepare the base for the Ajvar, but this was the first time someone baked the red peppers. Excited, the housewives immediately began to peel and grind the baked peppers.
An irresistible smell spread through the village in the same moment "Baba Gina" added the spices to the big pot filled with tomatoes and baked peppers. In matter of minutes all of the villagers were gathered around the pot, curiously peeking inside the bubbling, steaming pot.
"Baba Gina" joyfully watched the little children who were excitedly circling around the pot, inhaling with full lungs, as if they were fed just by the smell. She was happiest when she watched the others enjoying her food. For her, sitting down to eat brought special warmth. It was a moment when everyone forgot about the problems. For her the food brought joy, happiness and peace. That is why she cooked with all of her heart.
Watching the people around her, "Baba Gina" asked the housewives to take the freshly baked bread from the oven and to give some to everyone. On each slice of bread she spread hot Ajvar. For a moment the time stood still. Everyone’s gaze was fixed on the smeared piece of bread. The silence broke as one of the children moaned with pleasure, and in that moment everyone wanted to find out what was the cause of the little boy's reaction.
“Baba Gina” watched how with every bite the facial expressions of the people around her changed: they were closing their eyes, inhaling deeply, slurping and licking their mouths. Some of them were tasting the Ajvar with disbelief, asking the housewives how did she do it, what’s the secret, but none of them knew.
They all knew that her Ajvar was the tastiest, because she made it with a secret ingredient. Every time they asked her what it is, she would smile mysteriously. “Baba Gina” told the secret only to her son, who started producing even more products, all of them with the same secret ingredient. The secret was passed on to his sons, and now is the time that secret to be shared with you.
The secret of “Baba Gina” is that the Ajvar is made with LOVE.