Does the word “borscht” make you think of beet soup? That’s what I thought, until I was served this tasty soup with cabbage, potatoes, dill and meat (among other ingredients). Asking, I found out that borș (“borsh”) is a soup with a special sour flavoring added to the broth (imagine just a little bit of the sour taste from hot-and-sour soup, mixed in with the flavors above). This ingredient, which is also called borș, is made from fermented wheat bran, and can be homemade or store- bought. It was delicious!
This summer is a very busy time, as we PCTs (Peace Corps Trainees) strive to ingest the tremendous flow of (neccesary, but overwhelming) information. I have several great ideas that will become thoughtful blog posts whenever I find the time. Thanks for your patience! 🙂
Motănaș (moe-tuh-nash*) means kittens. It is the word for the week because some of my fellow PCTs discovered a group of precious kittens living near the cemetery on the hill. Here are some of the kittens, and the view from the hill:
Do they have grits, in Moldova? Well, not really, but mămăligă (muh-muh-lee-guh)* is kind of close. It’s even closer to Italian polenta. This is mămăligă cu pește because it’s topped with fish (pește; pesh-tay)* under the red sauce and veggies on top. All in all, it was delicious!
“Vișine” (“vee-shee-nay”)* means sour cherries. Right now the cherries are ready for picking. (I’ve discovered that there are sweet cherries, for eating, and sour cherries, for baking.) Yesterday my host family picked two large buckets of vișine and my host mom made compot, a boiled cherry juice. Many families are making cherry plăcintă. Cherries are everywhere!
I was actually told two different names for these cookies, which taste a little like gingerbread, but not so gingery (with a sugary glaze like donuts on the outside). At the magazin, where I bought them, I was told they were called Preaniki (pray-ahn-eek)*, which I later discovered was Russian, not Romanian (evidently they are Russian cookies). In Romanian they are called Torte Dulci (tor-tay dool-chay), which means “sweet cakes”. *approximate pronunciation
Mulțumesc (moolt-soo-mesk) means “Thank You”. Today I am thankful for my wonderful teachers and trainers, and also for the GORGEOUS roses at the school where I study each day.
Last night we were treated to a delicious taste of Moldovan culture. An enormous feast of traditional Moldovan dishes (see the photos below) was preceded by a marvelous performance of traditional Moldovan songs and dances by a local performance group. As well as demonstrating unique, traditional (and entertaining) features of their heritage, the group demonstrated the legendary Moldovan hospitality by their enthusiasm and their earnest desire to include us in their celebrations.
After the last dance was performed, they invited the PCTs to participate in a traditional circle dance (in some cases, they literally dragged the Americans by the hand into the circle). Everyone danced. Everyone smiled and laughed. As the song ended the Moldovans urged the musicians to play “just one more.” Which we danced together. Then “just one more” again. (This one involved choosing a partner from the crowd, who knelt on a handkerchief to receive a kiss. Again, the Moldovans enthusiastically included us)! Finally, it was suggested that the Americans provide a song, so after much fumbling, we produced a so-so rendition of “This land is Your Land”, then a much more rousing version of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game!” The musical portion of the evening ended with the musicians interspersed with the PCTs, all talking, not understanding a word, but laughing and hugging goodbye. I was reminded yet again that, in spite of all the things that divide us – culture, language, customs, oceans – underneath it all we are fundamentally the same. And we all seek ways to connect with each other.
What do you call flaky pastry wrapped around any kind of delicious filling you can imagine? Well, in Moldova, they call it plăcintă! (pluh-cheen-tuh) There are both sweet and savory varieties, and so far we’ve been fortunate enough to try these four varieties, and ALL of them are my favorite: