Sasha’s granddaughter got a lot of flowers for her birthday. Some of them are tulips, and now I have a new favorite Romanian word, just because it’s so much fun to say! One tulip is a lale and the plural is lalele*. So that is the word of the week! Enjoy.
*Pronounced just like you think it is: “lah-leh-leh” 🙂
I walked out of my home this morning and thought, “Goodness, it’s warm today! Maybe I have on too many clothes. Should I take off my hat?” I definitely wouldn’t have had such thoughts in Alabama on when the temperature was 47F. 🙂
My host mom’s beautiful granddaughter is staying with us this week, on vacation from the university she attends in Moscow. The other night I came home to find her preparing something unusual in the kitchen: Sushi! So this week’s word is homemade Suși*, with imported Russian salmon. She even had chopsticks for me to eat it with, and soy sauce. It was delicious!
This week’s word is a little sad. Wednesday was the 4th anniversary of my mother’s death. Here in Moldova, there is a custom of celebrating that day with a toast commemorating the dear departed. To give such a toast is to pomeni. So I bought a bottle of wine, and my host mom and I shared a toast and a few words about what a special person my mom was, and how much I miss her. In this picture you can see how beautiful she was in her youth:
Comical side note: we didn’t have a proper corkscrew to open the wine, just the one in my Swiss army knife, and neither of us could pull hard enough to get the cork out! So we ended up toasting with Sasha’s delicious homemade wine instead!
I can’t believe I’ve never written about sarmale!* They are one of my favorite Moldovan dishes. Before I came here, reading blogs written by other PCVs I couldn’t quite understand why they said that cabbage rolls were so delicious. But now that I’ve tasted these delectable little bites, I totally get it. Sarmalele take a LOT of work: Sasha selects a steamed cabbage leaf, smooths it out, scoops a spoonful of previously prepared stuffing (rice, meat and… secret seasoning?) onto it, then carefully rolls it up, tucking both ends in as she goes. Then repeats the process maybe 50 or 75 times to make a full casserole dish of sarmalele. They are somewhat similar to the dolmades I’ve tried in Mediterranean restaurants, but the bitter taste of the grape leaves is replaced by smooth steamed cabbage, resulting in a mouth-watering combination!
Last week we received a text from our Safety and Security Manager telling us that a “code orange” Winter Weather Alert was in place. Iarna* (winter) had finally arrived. Ever since, my walk to school has been covered in snow. And filled with wonders for an Alabama girl, who has never actually experienced snow that stayed around for more than a day! Here are a few of the glories of Iarna in Cahul, Moldova! Click for larger images. There are few captions as the images mostly speak for themselves!
“Graffiti” in the snow. It says ‘Class 8B’ in Russian. Evidently some proud 8th graders passed this way!
Can you name a famous person whose birthday was celebrated last Monday on January 15th? If you’re in Moldova, probably the first person who comes to mind is Mihai Eminescu (“Mee-high Yem-een-es-kyoo”).* Eminescu one of the most famous and influential poets ever to write in the Romanian language. He’s extremely well known in Romania and Moldova; his portrait is seen everywhere from schoolroom walls, to the church lawn, and even on Romania’s money! Since the school where I work is one of many Moldovan schools named after him, there were a variety of special activities during the school day on Monday. Each grade level had special activities planned, including this Eminescu Trivia Challenge for the 9th grade:
And the day ended with a performance in the school auditorium featuring song, dance, poetry, and skits, all performed by the students! Here is about a minute of it for you to enjoy. See if you can catch the poet’s name near the end!