Maxim Behar presented his new book to Euronews TV

The book "Seychelles Recipes and More About "Paradise on Earth...” by the Honorary Consul General of the Republic of Seychelles in Bulgaria, Maxim Behar presents the unique taste of Seychelles, personal stories, and experiences

Host: My next guest is one of the most well-known PR experts in the country and is an Honorary Consul General of the Republic of Seychelles in Bulgaria. Just a few days ago his sixth book, which is full of recipes from authentic Creole cuisine, but more importantly - personal stories from Seychelles, hit the market. Maxim Behar is my guest now, this time not as a commentator but as a writer. Hello and welcome.

Maxime: Good morning. We're continuing the topic with your previous guest Andrew. A week in Seychelles can extend your life by a year.

Host: Really? Is it because it's paradise on earth?

Maxim: I suggest you give it a try. Yes, it really is paradise on earth. For many reasons, firstly it's the country with the highest % of reserved territory. Nearly 60% of those 115 islands that are territory of the Republic of Seychelles are reserved by law. No one is allowed to even hammer a nail there. There is a law which states that there can only be one hotel per one beach. I do not want to draw an analogy with what is happening in Bulgaria, Spain, or Italy. Nobody is allowed to build a hotel that is higher than two stories, which means that all hotels and guesthouses are in Creole style and for that it is paradise on earth. There are three things that are important for a country and those are nature, people, and food. For example, when I ask my friends, "What do you do in Greece?", with the greatest respect, they say, "You know how delicious Greek salad is, the octopuses." and they are five or six dishes. But everybody focuses on the food because the beaches and nature, we accept that, many countries have them. So, at some point I thought it would be good to represent Seychelles, through the Creole cuisine, the interesting food they have and more in this book, which I would love to give to you.

Host: Is this picture real or is it edited?

Maxim: It is real.

Host: I want to ask you if you took the picture at this place?

Maxim: Yes. It's a neighborhood on the island of Mahe, it's called "Beau Vallon". The dedication I have written to you is that I am waiting for you in Seychelles together with the Euronews TV team. You have a very interesting travel show that I follow.

Host: It’s just that there's great interest from other colleges to be involved in it and go to these places. Zhivko Konstantinov won't let me, although from the very beginning when we met, and it was clear that it would be broadcast from here, I had offered to take over some of his postings, but he directly refused.

Maxim: I follow his TV shows and they are very interesting. And so, I thought there would be interest for this book. As I said at the book launch, "Finally I get to write an interesting book too". Because usually, my books are about leadership, PR communications, Marketing, in general about topics that are very narrowly focused. And when I went to the bookstore to ask them how the sale was going, they said, "We need more books.".

Host: I see recipes in the book with products that are affordable, but also there are some with ingredients that are unfamiliar to me. What does "Grouper and Bilimbi" mean?

Maxim: Grouper is a very famous fish, and it can be bought. All the fish mentioned in these 25 recipes can be bought in Bulgaria, whether you find them in a Greek shop or from those who import fish from Seychelles. I have a friend who is in Ruse and was in Seychelles for 15-16 years, he imports fish from there. It is literally caught on Thursday, and it can be found in the shops by Saturday, so these things are already available. Even some of them can be substituted with some spices, although most of them can be found here and that way the flavor of the cuisine can be felt. Creole cuisine is very special because it has few European spices and flavors, but the main ones are Indian, Chinese, and African. All in all, it is a mixture, and it is born from the history of the Republic of Seychelles, which were uninhabited islands. They were settled by the French with their slaves in the mid-17th century. Their slaves were from Africa and that's where the flavor of African dishes was brought from, the French European then settled the Indians, Nepalese, and people from Pakistan. This has created a very interesting cuisine that cannot be found anywhere in the world.

Host: How did your first meeting with Seychelles happen?

Maxime: I received an email from my friends in Paris saying, "Dear Maxim, our good friend, the founding president of the Republic of Seychelles, Sir James Manchum will be in Sofia for a day. Do you mind meeting with him and telling him something about Bulgaria.". So, I ended up in a hotel in Sofia, I met Sir James and there was chemistry between us from our very first meeting 19 years ago. A few weeks later he called me on the phone and said, "Max, I want you to be our Honorary Consul in Bulgaria. I really like the way you think and work." Believe me, I didn't know what that meant. It sounded very good, both a Consul and an Honorary. I received an invitation from the then Minister of Foreign Affairs to visit Seychelles, it literally happened within days.

Host: You hadn't been there before?

Maxim: No, of course not. I went to Seychelles, which was a very different country back then. Now they are much more developed, open. Back then there was no internet, no cables, no access. So, me the minister, and the president liked each other. After two or three months, the Bulgarian government agreed to the Seychelles government's inquiry whether it would agree to me being Honorary Consul of Seychelles. After that the then President of Seychelles, James Michel issued a decree appointing me. That’s how it happened, I fell in love with Seychelles and started going there.

Host: Do you speak their language?

Maxim: No. I don't speak Creole.

Host: Because I see in the book a short guide on basic phrases.

Maxim: I know these words, but they are no more than ten/fifteen. Basically, Creole is a modification of French with a little bit of Swahili and some African languages. But basically, French is dominant, and it's written the way it's pronounced, i.e., slightly like Bulgarian and not like French. But English is the official language there.

Host: Last minute, Mr. Behar. Congratulations on the book, it's amazing. Hopefully many more people will be able to experience this Paradise on Earth as you say. But in this minute, a quick analysis on politics because things have changed quite a bit in the last few days. Do you think we will have a government in this parliament and is the possible removal of the Attorney General a bet on government?

Maxime: I can't comment on the removal of the Attorney General or not. I think there will be a government, that's what I said here in your studio. I remain firmly of the position that there will be a government. What it will be and what the trade will be like, I have no idea. But I hope there will be a working government because Bulgaria needs to be put back on the map of Europe.

Host: And why do you refuse to talk about the Attorney General?

Maxim: Because the games they play are not clear to me. One must have information. Perhaps this is a bet for the government. Because I listened to what Mrs. Gabriel said and we all heard it, the very fact that she accentuated says that they are trying to build bridges with the other political forces. However, will this solve things if one Attorney General leaves and another comes, without fundamentally changing the judicial system and without having a different attitude of both the law enforcement authorities in Bulgaria and the prosecution of the entire judicial system. Murders on the roads, unregulated speeds, not a single conviction - corruption. I think the picture is much bigger.

Host: Thank you! Maxim Behar in between the recipes from Seychelles and Bulgarian politics.

Maxim: Thank you too!

You can watch the whole interview here.

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