This article explores the ways in which the Bulgarian socialist regime integrated a newly elaborated culture of food and drink into its promises for the “good life” and a utopian future. With a focus on Black Sea coast tourism, it argues that the development of more refined food and drink offerings and public dining venues played a dual role of shaping and serving a modern socialist citizenry. With tourism as a major engine of the Bulgarian economy, catering to Bulgarian, Bloc, and Western tourists meant that creating a gastronomic utopia by the sea was part and parcel of “building” and showcasing socialism. This was intimately tied to bolstering state legitimacy through the provision of leisure and abundance, but also to a newly minted Bulgarian national cuisine. By the late 1970s and 1980s, however, the Black Sea tourist phenomenon both exhibited and exacerbated the problem of growing shortages and hence the deep crisis of the system, which collapsed in 1989.

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