Murături* can be roughly translated as “pickled things!” Here we have harbuz marinat (pickled watermelon) cerii marinate (pickled cherry tomatoes) and roșii verzi murate (pickled green tomatoes). Everything has been prepared with home-grown seasonings, including bay leaves, and in the case of the green tomatoes, garlic, dill, grape leaves and horseradish leaves. The pickled watermelon in particular was a pleasant surprise. A nice blend of sweet and sour. Some people eat the rind and all!
Someone mentioned that every time I write about food, I say it’s delicious. And it is true that I love 95% of the food that I’ve discovered here in Moldova. But today, just to be different, I’m sharing something I don’t actually care for. Răcitura,* a very traditional Moldovan dish, is commonly referred to among volunteers as “that meat jelly stuff.” It’s a clear broth, the consistency of Jell-O. It contains bits of meat (usually pork) often colorful vegetables and occasionally hard-boiled eggs, and is usually quite beautiful to look at. It tastes like broth-flavored Jell-O, more or less. Many people love it, but unfortunately I am not among their number.
*approximate pronunciation: “Ruh-chee-tour-ah”
Also, yeah, I know it’s not Friday any more. Too bad! 🙂
“This is my husband’s favorite cake,” said Lucia as she gave me a slice. It was just after midnight, now January 14th, “old” New Year. We had just watched her brother shoot off some gorgeous fireworks, and now we were preparing to greet the new year with cake and champagne. After one bite, I could see why her husband liked it so much! Smântână* means “sour cream” and smântânel consisted of zillions of thin layers of pastry (kind of like phylo dough, but not as flaky), with a sour-cream based sweet cream between them. Yum!
*(very) approximate pronunciation: Smun-tun-uh. Try saying the first two syllables with the u sound from “push”. The cake is (aproximately) smun-tun-ell Same deal with the u’s.
My host mom laughed at me when I took this picture. She doesn’t think it really counts as cooking, since all she did was cut up a pumpkin (from her garden!) and put it in the oven, with maybe a little vegetable oil. Bostan din Cuptor (“Bost-ahn deen coop-tor”)* just means “pumpkin from the oven.” But it sure tastes good!
My host mom loves to try out different treats on me. When she brought these out she said “these are cookies made with corn flour.” Biscuits de Porumb(beess-cu-eats day pour-oomb”*) just means cookies from corn. I was curious to try them, and I like them very much. In my head I call them “cornbread cookies” because they taste kind of like sweet (Jiffy) cornbread only even sweeter, with a denser texture, almost like butter cookies.
P.S. Yeah, I know it’s Saturday. Life happens. Deal. 🙂
I know two words in Romanian for “cheese”. The yellow kind from the store is called cașcaval (“cahsh-cah-vahl”*) but this more common, locally produced cheese is called brânză (“broon-zuh”**). Wikipedia says it’s from sheep milk, but I’ve been told there is brânză from cow and goat milk as well. It’s somewhat reminiscent of feta cheese, but with a sharper taste, a little bit like ricotta and a little bit like roquefort. It’s used very commonly here in all kinds of food, from crumbling it on top of fried eggs to baking it inside of pastries, to name just two. Since the taste is sharp, tangy and salty, most Volunteers report that they either love it or hate it.
**Pronunciation even more approximate than usual. The â really doesn’t exist in English. It sounds kind of like the French eu in “fleur” but not quite.
Look at this beautiful cake! Are you as surprised as I am to learn that it’s made of meat? Liver, no less (one of the few foods I really don’t like). But prepared this way, it’s really good! Additional ingredients include sauteed onions and carrots, and mayonnaise. Peace Corps encourages us to always say “yes” to new experiences, and this time I’m really glad I did. Tortă de ficat de pui (“tor-tuh day fee-caht day poo-ee”*) is delicious!
So, this one takes a little explaining. The terci de mazăre (“terch deh mah-zuh-reh”*) looks a little like mashed potatoes, but is actually made of peas! It’s a thick puree (actually denser than mashed potatoes) with a flavor similar to split-pea soup. It’s served with a thick stew of vegetables and chicken which my host mom calls sous (“sowce”*). The flavors complement each other well, and the entire thing is delicious.
I came home from the school one day this week to find my host mom in the kitchen, as I often do. She was explaining that we would eat lunch in a few minutes when I spied a homemade coffee cake on the counter behind her. That certainly hadn’t been there that morning! So I asked about it.
“Prăjitură cu mere” (“pruh-zhee-too-ruh coo mair-ray”*) she told me, apple coffee cake. “Pentru fata mea”; for my girl. My host mom, who is a diabetic, and could only eat a taste of it, had made a coffee cake just for me! She knows the first week of school is always stressful for teachers, and she is incredibly kind. By the way, the cake is delicious. At this writing there are only two slices left! 🙂