Bulgaria is developing at a steady rate from an emigrant country to a country attracting more and more immigrants from the EU and third countries, and refugees who have been granted protection by the state. For much of Bulgarian society, however, all these foreign communities are still unknown or wrapped in stereotypes, which leads to discrimination, racism and xenophobia. The Multi Kulti Map project’s aim is to make cultural diversity in Sofia, Bulgaria visible as well as to show the positive human face of various communities living in the same cities and neighbourhoods. The project takes a step towards building a society that appreciates the cultural diversity of foreigners in Bulgaria and so, in the long run, promotes the two-way process of integration into Bulgarian society.
To be more specific, The Multi Kulti Map is a project by Multi Kulti Collective Association and has been around since 2013. It is a bilingual digital and paper map that shows authentic migrant and Bulgarian restaurants and food stores in Sofia, Bulgaria. It includes personal stories of restaurant owners from Bulgaria, the EU and third countries. The Multi Kulti Map demonstrates the cultural and culinary diversity of Bulgaria. One can find there authentic restaurants and food stores owned by people from more than 20 countries, including Bulgarians, refugees and foreigners from other EU states. In the map, the owners share a piece of their personal story, talk about their favourite childhood dish, about what they like in Bulgaria and what they miss from their countries. Each story is beautifully and professionally illustrated by artists from the international-award-winning studio Compote Collective.
In addition to the stories that give the map a personal touch, the map is very practical and useful for both tourists and locals wishing to explore restaurants in Sofia. There is general information about each spot, photos, interviews with the owner and an illustration of him/her. Moreover, the map’s contents are not fixed as the public are invited to suggest spots that are not yet on the map or to provide information that might be missing. Multi Kulti Collective checks whether suggested places are eligible to be included and then collects all the necessary information, conducts an interview with the owner, translates it into English, takes a photo, creates an illustrated portrait of the owner, updates the website and promotes it. Furthermore, the map helps Multi Kulti Collective to enrich its network of partners with the restaurants and food stores supporting them in organising tasty Multi Kulti Kitchen and other public events, culinary courses, catering etc. These events serve as meeting points for people from different cultural and socio-political backgrounds and effectively build good relations in communities. http://multikulti.bg/project/map