OZB Magazine December 2019

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December 2019 | N° 25 | FREE COPY



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30 Years After… Revisiting the Romanian Revolution







Family Dinner Tips for the Holiday Peacemakers


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A New Beginning for 2020

Douglas Williams - Publisher


his is a special issue because it is a special time of year in a number of different ways. Politically, historically, seasonally, and personally… First a little unseasonal gardening - bear with me, indulge me momentarily va rog. So a month or so ago I decided I’d finally had enough of looking out at my tiny lawn and feeling bad. It was completely choked with weeds such that there was a greater area covered with weeds than with grass. The grass was literally greener on my neighbours’ side of the fence. So I decided to do something about it and popped along to Brico Depot and bought some tough gloves, a trowel, some grass seed and some lawn fertiliser. Love that shop. A few hours later I had a couple of bin bags full of weeds. One particularly stubborn weed with strong, deep roots had been occupying a whole corner, removing it had been an epic battle of man versus weed. I thought of Klaus Iohannis the re-elected President of Romania. I looked out today, the seeds and the fertiliser have done the trick, there’s now a lovely thick green lawn. I thought of President Iohannis again. I’ve spoken with Romanians about their newly reelected President and his first term and often their reaction can best be described as “underwhelmed”. This surprises me and it seems to surprise most of my foreign friends who take a similar view to me that he is precisely what Romania needs. For better or worse so much of politics these days is about the “optics” - how things look - and Iohannis is nothing if not presidential in stark contrast to the alternatives. He’s also viewed domestically and internationally as this country’s best chance of curbing endemic and all pervasive corruption. He is like a breath of much needed fresh air when seen next to the usual “bent as a dog’s hind leg” suspects. In choosing Iohannis, for sure the Romanian public have confirmed their belief in the EU project but they have also said they want the weeds removed and that


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can only be for the good. So that was the politics and we at OZB sincerely congratulate President Iohannis on his victory. I hope we can get a chat soon.



Historically, well: thirty years ago this month a series of profound changes swept across the world and things were never to be the same. Here, in the space of one chaotic week, a brutal dictatorship was overthrown in what was viewed by many as nothing short of a Christmas miracle. The thing that the good folks across Romania had been hoping and praying for came to pass on Christmas Day 1989. When it happened, people could scarcely believe it. We’ve spoken with a plethora of people from academics to journalists to young Romanians about that tumultuous week and its ramifications. Seasonally, well, it’s the Holiday Season and that can mean “how exciting” or “Oh God!” I sincerely hope it’s the former for all dear OZB readers. OZB’s Dana Tudose Tianu reports on the varied and challenging role of the holiday dinner peacemaker, and we also get advice on choosing the perfect bottle of Romanian wine this Holiday Season from Robert Marshall. Oh, and finally, personally: By the time you read this I will have passed the half century and, yes, it’s all downhill from here, so I’m told. Somehow I made it through… I’m proud to present this magazine to you and I’m grateful to all those who have worked on it and contributed. Our next magazine will be our February issue due out late January as we are taking a break this Festive season. I hope you enjoy reading this OZB, and I hope you have a wonderful Holiday Season, safe, warm and filled with good will and joy. Merry Christmas from all the OZB team and all the best for 2020. O zi bună!





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Contents December Events


Revisiting the Revolution


Romanian Elections


Revitalising Romanian Heritage


Post-Election Romania & The Least Interesting Presidential Election Ever


The Artist Restaurant, Bucharest



Castelul Lupilor (Wolve's Castle)

Human Catalyst Association for Education & Social Justice


Around the Family Holiday Dinner: The Peace-Maker’s Role

The Legacy of the Romanian Revolution


Contemporary Cuisine with Romanian Flourish at Kane


Top Tipple for a Cracking Craciun


Frosty Fashion with a Clear Conscience


Dreaming of a Green Eco Friendly Christmas


The Intersecting Wisdom of Eminescu and Borat

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Gone to a Revolution, Back Soon


Of Lizards, Bedsheets & Conflicted Feelings


BAck in '89...


One View Dominates in Romania's 14 to 40s: The Revolution Was Not as It Seemed

Cover photograph: Photograph of President Klaus Iohannis by Octav Ganea Above photograph: Photograph by Bradley Mirel, Unnamed Road, Buscat, Romania, W W W.O Z B . R O D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 9


December Events

Two Day Hiking Trip to the Diham Chalet December 7th-8th

For a mere 170 Ron, all encompassing ticket, you can join this early Saturday morning departure to Azuga for an intensive 8 hour hike into the snowy mountains. Saturday night will include a guided night hike for brave souls, and Sunday will include breakfast and a hike through the Glăjeriei Valley

The holiday season is here, this December culminating in a new year and a new decade! OZB Magazine is here to help you out sort out how to best round out the final month of the 2010s.

before descending to Busteni.

• Star Wars Speed Quiz Night @Mojo December 11th at 7pm

Join us on the 11th of December as we host a Speed Quiz devoted to the world of Star Wars! Questions will cover everything including films, spin-offs, characters, history, cartoons, toys and more. Speedquizzing is a completely new way to enjoy a trivia night. Each team uses their own tablet/ smartphone and our SpeedQuiz app. All the devices will be connected to our central hub where

• 366 Days By Scott Allsop: Book Premiere at the British School of Bucharest December 3rd

What do Nadia Comăneci, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and an electrocuted Christmas turkey have in common? Bucharest-based teacher and podcaster Scott Allsop will seek to prove how these are just some of the people, places and events that helped to shape today’s world with the release of his new book. Packed with engaging and entertaining accounts of some of the most fascinating events in history, Another 366 Days will be launched at the British School of Bucharest on 3rd December. Allsop’s new collection of daily historical accounts builds on his first book (366 Days, 2016) and has been meticulously researched to clearly explain the causes, course and consequences of each featured event. Stretching from the ancient Mesoamerican calendar to the height of the dot-com bubble, and from the Medieval Danelaw to the Cold War, it is a chronicle of the highs and lows of world history.

• Bucharest Artworlds at the Wrong Bienalle Every Friday in December, 7pm-11pm

Artworlds embodies a series of cultural events on

making art and culture accessible both nationally

we will control the questions! We can also supply

and internationally. Such events range from

you with a 'ready to play' tablet on the night if you

hosting international temporary exhibitions of

need one (on a first come, first served basis). You

contemporary art to staging events across the

only get 10 seconds to answer each question, with

cultural spectrum (performances, conferences

bonus points awarded to the fastest teams.

and more)

• Romanian Iconic Tales (RIT) Live at Quantic December 5th, 8-11pm

Some former members of the legendary Romanian rock band Phoenix have rejoined and remixed to bring out RIT. Their new album is being branded as one that “unites modernity and ancestrality; innovation and innovation; folklore heritage and expressive creativity” through Ethno-rock, Romanian Gothic, Folk prog Fusion, and Eco Metal. Ticket price is 35 Ron in advance, 40 at the door, and 60 to get a CD too!

• Winter is Coming @ Dark Wheels MC December 7th, 5pm until late

Live music, good food, and a great crowd bring light out of the darkness at Dark Wheels MC Winter is Coming party to celebrate one year on the road, and where the B52 shots are always on fire.

current relevant topics that serve the public by stimulating discussions and being committed to

• December Events

• Mezanin Market

December 14th-15th and 21st-22nd

Universe Palace in Cismigiu Now in its 12th year, the Mezanin brings together customers and Romnanian entrepreneurs to learn their stories and discover their products. For four days, visitors will be able to find jewelry, interior design products, interesting drinks and sauces, children's and adult clothing, eco-friendly products, books, sweets and honey in healthy combinations, backpacks and special bags, and natural cosmetics. Free entrance and free coffee!

• “Jean Moscopol Overthrows the Soviet Republic”: An Evening of Music with the National Alliance to Restore the Monarchy

Blanari Street, No. 23

December 30, 7pm The title may sound overwhelming, but this will be a fascinating evening of music and historical insight featuring the sounds of interbelic musical legend Jean Moscopol. The event will also feature discussions about the Soviet overthrow of the monarchy after World War 2, which took place 72 years ago.


HOLIDAY EVENTS Bucharest Christmas Fair

November 28th to December 26th Join the more than one million visitors who come from all over the world to take in the wonder of a Christmas market in the heart of the Romanian capital, just in front of the Palace of Parliament. For expats looking for good local gifts to send home, look no further, and let the 30 meter Christmas tree in Constitution Plaza guide you to salvation.

Meeting Santa at the Snow Globe Factory Leaving from Piata Victoriei December 6th, 12-730pm This day trip hosted by Calatoria Ta offers an all encompassing kids and

Hip Hop Takeovers Presents Opera Take Over NYE 2020 Starting at 10pm on New Year’s Eve, reign in the new decade in pure class with the hip hop opera takeover. When it comes to dress and vibe, we’ll give Hip Hop Takeovers themselves the final word: Our statement for this night is: freedom of choice, express yourself ! You don’t need to fit in, you just need to feel beautiful between those Opera walls. As elegant, groovy or funky as you wish. This night is usually stressful when it comes to outfits. Escape the usual. Be yourself ! Prices range from 500 Ron early bird to 800 Ron last minute entrance, so blow that late year bonus and start off 2020 with a full stomach, empty wallet, and crushing hangover.

90s New Year’s Eve at the Fratelli Lounge

Offering to bring in the New Year’s with a

family adventure to Curtea de Arges, including a monastery stop and ATVing, culminating a visit to the snow globe factory and hang out time with Santa. Vin Fiert will be available for the burned out adults. 140 Ron all encompassing ticket. For those looking to expand their holiday outings beyond Bucharest, the Sibiu Christmas Market is an outstanding getaway. Calatoria Ta will offer a two day trip there on December 7th and December 8th for 300 Ron. Excursii de Neuitat will also offer a day trip there on December 14th for 130 Ron. Cistour Agency will offer a two day getaway to the Brasov Christmas Market and Salina Prahova Spa on December 14th and 15th, also for 300 Ron.

focus on the Body and Soul, returning to the anthems of our youth with joy in the heart and the mind, Fratelli Lounge offers an open buffet and bar plus a whole lot of dance floor for a more modest 540 Ron ticket price.

Area 31 Presents New Year’s Eve Interstellar 2020 The Multipurpose Room Bucharest NYE's biggest Romanian electronic party is finally ON. Our journey together starts from the pure love of dance and music with the trippiest DJs and stunning scenery. With a new-age theme, the party will take place in another galaxy, called Interstellar. You will teleport into a new dimension with a trippy decor and a perfect lineup for 2020, raving it up for a crazy ride with the lords of Space. Very good price of 50 Ron per person, book early!


iusina tells the surprising story of a camel who starts a new life in Bucharest, after her husband, Struzl von Strudel, is kidnapped from the Palace where he was working as a Master Chef for the Great Sheik. The adventures of the camel and of her beloved but clumsy son, Caspartu, reveal, behind the lines, a genuine love for Romania’s capital and its hidden gems. The story, which addresses to children 8+, is the fourth book published by Andreea Micu, after the trilogy “Lunus Plinus and Andrei”. The book, elegantly edited by Baroque Books & Arts and illustrated by the talented Bajko Atilla, will be available for sale as of December 2019 in all major bookstores across the country (Carturesti, Humanitas, CLB etc.) as well as online (Elefant.ro, Libris.ro, Cartepedia. ro, Emag.ro).




Romanian Elections as seen by Photo-Journalist, Octav Ganea


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DECEMBER 2019 Romanian Elections


Romanian photojournalist Octav Ganea is the coordinating photojournalist and managing partner of the news photography agency Inquam Photos. Working for Gandul national newspaper whle attending the final year of Art University in Bucharest, he went through to work for Mediafax Foto in the early 2010 and then joined the agency his former colleague Ovidiu Micsik had founded, Inquam Photos. While the agency focuses on delivering spot news photography to the biggest media publications in Romania, an equally important task is bringing copyright and photographer's rights back on the agenda of the publishers and broader audience.

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Post-Election Romania & The Least Interesting Presidential Election Ever by Marco Badea, Founder of Dialectica.ro and Journalist & Political Analyst


ome November 24th, Romania won’t look any different than it did before November 24th. The same political disputes, the same bluffing games of quasi-electoral logic, the same flawed visions, artificial emotions and the same lack of discursive clarity will come from the great actors and decision-makers in Bucharest’s political arena. For the sake of Romania’s democratic health, Viorica Dăncilă, the Social Democrat Party’s candidate, shouldn’t 10

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win the second round of the Presidential elections. The way things stand after the first ballot, thinking of our country’s future, both in European politics and beyond, Dăncilă will not be the preferred candidate and she will not be President. But Viorica Dăncilă’s predictable defeat won’t be a great victory for incumbent president Klaus Iohannis, representing the National Liberal Party. If his campaign strategy would have shown more political fortitude, President Iohannis

could have had a glorious win. Instead, he chose not to have a direct debate with the Social Democrats’ candidate, implying she is not an ‘appropriate” counter-candidate. Instead of facing Dăncilă and truly defeating her in a televised debate while taking, at the same time, responsibility for naming her prime minister, Iohannis let journalists and online media fight his own fight in exposing Dăncilă’s inadequacy for the presidency. In the end, Klaus

DECEMBER 2019 Post-Election Romania & The Least Interesting Presidential Election Ever

Iohannis could have won his votes in a real fight. These votes could have been given to him enthusiastically, based on the promise of “normality” which represented the foundation of his campaign, instead of letting people vote for the lesser evil. Instead, the President preferred to play out the card of the “battle already won” throughout the campaign, both during the first and second ballots. By avoiding a direct debate with Dăncilă, he opted out of a key democratic custom and moral duty. Beyond the impenetrable, opaque core of Iohannis voters who will of course stay on track on November 24th, the undecided electorate’s votes will be coming towards him out of fear instead of conviction; fear of ever having to deal with a reality where Viorica Dancila is president and the Social Democrats may get a boost and get their power back. The campaign will pass with Romanians having voted in possibly the least interesting presidential election thus far. We will stop thinking about the institution of the President for a while and go back to our daily dissatisfaction, remembering that this is the country where a bear lies in agony for 18 hours on the road while the authorities are absent and people take selfies. Remembering that this is a country where Roma students have school breaks at different intervals than the rest of the children in a certain part of Romania. A country where we still vote with our wallets and stomachs instead of our hearts and brains. Post-November 24, Romania should be the Romania that gives us a clear vision for our children’s futures and our own. If we don’t have a vision, if we don’t have it projected in front of our eyes, then we must roll up our sleeves and build it. And we have to do this where we stand, at the grassroots level. •


Human Catalyst Human Catalyst Association for Education & Social Justice


ounded in 2014 to reduce inequities in society, the Human Catalyst has become known, both in the public policy community and locally, as a grassroots organization. We act in the interests of the most disadvantaged groups,( i.e those at risk of social exclusion: children, young people, women, Roma). With small, exclusively private grants, the activity of the association is structured in three strategic circular directions: Direct interventions “Growing the community” (young people, pupils, parents, villages)

Research - IRSE, the Socio-Educational Risk Indicator (the Hierarchy of Disadvantaged Schools, the Diagnosis of Equity in Education) Advocacy - Funding for the After-School Program, Documenting and Banning the Brăila Phenomenon (a new form of exclusion from education) in Romanian Schools

Growing the Community of Young Activists, PhotoVoice 2019


his is the program that continues a tradition started in 2015 and has, since then, been organized

annually. Young people from disadvantaged communities and environments exposed to social risk, go through a series of activities that increase self-esteem and confidence in their own abilities, while learning civic engagement methods and acting as volunteers in the organization's campaigns. This past summer, 25 young people from 5 counties and Bucharest participated in the Activism Camp in Sibiu where they learned, among many other things, the "PhotoVoice" method. The course was led by Sorina Bunescu from the Asociația Partener pentru Tine (Partner for You

Association), and, during the camp, the method was put into practice in the villages on the outskirts of Sibiu. Together with the Human Catalyst team, the volunteer facilitators were: Mariana Lucan from Suceava, Oana Vasiliu from Iași, Veronica Quysner from Bucharest and Aura Ciobotaru from the Civic Group “Părinții cer schimbare”. •

www.humancatalyst.ro E: office@humancatalyst.ro Pe: +40 726 376 338

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30 Years After This nation entered a new era in December, 1989. Democracy returned to Romania after more than half a century. Commerce and growth steadily took hold. Before the close of its second decade as a new republic, Romania joined NATO and the EU. But the revolution took its toll. Over a thousand Romanians lost their lives. Today, many remain uncertain about what exactly happened during that violent winter. And the path to progress has met obstacles and seen tragedies. This month, OZB presents a reflection on the revolution through the lenses of a plethora of personalities, from historians and political commentators and writers to British journalists, and most of all, Romanians themselves, of all ages and backgrounds. What happened? Where is Romania now? And where will it go next? Ask questions and seek answers to unlock the mysteries of the past and take a part in forging the future.


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The Legacy of the Romanian Revolution by Alexandru Gussi

PhD in Political Science (Paris, 2007), Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Bucharest University

& Armand Gosu

PhD in Russian History (Moscow, 1998), Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Bucharest University


or the great majority of Romanians, the fleeing of Nicolae Ceauşescu and the fall of the communist regime were so surprising that they could only be perceived as miracles. On December 22, 1989, the impression of a miracle was shared by virtually all Romanians: by those who followed the events in front of their TVs, as well as by those who were risking their lives in the streets. It is this impression of a miracle that provides a key to the understanding of these events: even those who took to the streets and assumed so many risks were not mentally prepared to conceive life after a victory that seemed impossible up to the very last moment. The Revolution was made possible by a desperate, initial rebellion that had no leaders, no organization, and no ideology aside from the implicit anti-communism of the Romanian flag from which the communist coat of arms had been removed. The absence of an organized, dissident movement and a culture of samizdat diminished even further any chance that the victims of the communist regime had to benefit from its fall. It was others who benefitted from these events, which is why the impression of a miracle was quickly replaced by the idea of a “hijacked Revolution.” Hijacked by whom? By the nomenklatura

whose ascension was blocked, for various reasons, by the Ceauşescu family, together with officers from the Securitate and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Defense. The latter were fully aware that the regime would be unable to withstand a general rebellion and that the geopolitical context made it highly improbable for a Neo-Stalinist such as Ceauşescu to continue to rule the country. This led to the fact that the man of the hour was not an anti-communist, but precisely the person who was expected to succeed Ceauşescu for the leadership of the Party-State. When Ion Iliescu came to power, he was presented as a revolutionary, but not as one who pertained to the anti-communist rebellion. During a speech of the new leader delivered in what is now referred to as the Revolution Square, protesters responded to his wooden language by chanting “No communists”. At the time, Iliescu’s reaction was to pacify the crowd by arguing that the Romanian Communist Party (PCR) was gone. Thus, on December 22, the sole party was expeditiously dissolved by its own Central Committee. This, however, was

not a real dissolution, but rather an integration into the administration of the new state. The former State-Party members unburdened themselves of the party and a new political state structure was created. The National Salvation Front (FSN) would then replace PCR and assume a form of revolutionary legitimacy. The discourse that broached this revolutionary legitimacy made possible a nearperfect institutional continuity. The State remained the same, while most of the servants of the totalitarian regime became “active participants” in the revolution. Thus, previous agents of repression became current champions of change after December 22, 1989. How could those who took to the streets accept this state of affairs? Some did because they perceived the events as miraculous and simply did

not have the necessary clarity of mind to understand such a historic moment. Others attempted to protest, but the new power managed to make any alternative seem irrelevant under the threat of a possible urban guerilla. The fear of Ceauşescu’s return and that of a civil war anesthetized the people’s revolutionary potential. The recent inquiry of the Public Prosecutor’s Office into the events following December 22 explicitly refers to the fact that the ensuing struggles were orchestrated by the new power in an attempt to consolidate itself. Previously a group of

nomenklatura, FSN became the architect of the Revolution after December 22. Together with the miraculous aura surrounding December 1989, this would turn the political bloc formed around Ion Iliescu into the founder and main protagonist of Romanian post-Communism for the following 15 years; one might say, even to this day. Thus, the great paradox of the Romanian Revolution was that it made possible the continuity of the communist state and, to a great extent, the continuity of political elites and their access to resource networks. Nevertheless, this use of revolutionary legitimacy did have two positive outcomes. First, those who orchestrated the performance were forced to entertain the semblance of democracy and even promote a certain limited form of de-communization: they had to de-communize their discourse, they renounced the majority of symbols pertaining to the Socialist Republic, and they were unable to uphold their nostalgia for totalitarian communism. Secondly and most importantly, the Romanian society had the feeling or, rather, the certainty that it freed itself. FSN’s narrative was short-lived. Iliescu could portray himself as the savior of nomenklatura or the man of the hour, in general, but not as a liberator. Regardless of its historic (in)accuracy, the feeling that it had freed itself gave the civil society unparalleled legitimacy and rendered counter-productive any attempts of the government to restrict political freedoms. Even though the degree to which Romania has become a democratic state is still debatable, the feeling of triumphant liberty remains, from the 1990s to this day, the most important legacy of the Romanian Revolution. • Alexandru Gussi & Armand Gosu Edits., Democratia sub asediu, Editura Corint, 2019.

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Gone to a Revolution, Back Soon by Alison Mutler


e were flying towards Bucharest when the message came into the cockpit that there was gunfire at Otopeni Airport making landing dangerous. The pilot who’d volunteered for the flight, was on a mission, not merely doing a job. It was a charter flight and I had been allowed into the cockpit. He told me that he was of Romanian descent and was thrilled to be flying in ITN news to cover the uprising against Nicolae Ceausescu, who had run the country with an iron fist since 1964. By this time, on the evening of Friday Dec. 22, Ceausescu had fled the capital with his wife Elena, but his regime hadn’t yet been overthrown. Unarmed anti-communist protesters were being shot down in the street. Little did we know that the shooting of ordinary citizens would continue days after his and Elena’s death at a military barracks on Christmas Day. Thirty years later, we still don’t know why the shooting continued after Ceausescu’s death and who ordered it. A decision was made by 14

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the senior producers that we’d turn back and fly to Budapest. I made the somewhat stupid suggestion that we could land in a field, but cooler heads prevailed. My main concern, and that of the ITN producers, was whether I’d be allowed into Romania, as I was the only Romanian speaker in the group who’d also worked in the country. I had tried to enter the country in August 1989 to film a story about systemization and had been refused entry. The refusal had been noted in my passport. But a regime change was underway, and I was allowed to cross the border from Hungary to Romania several times (the full visa price paid each entry), as we went into Romania to film and then back into Hungary to send the footage by satellite. Three years earlier, a couple of months after the Chernobyl explosion, I had visited Romania as a student. The British Foreign Office had advised us not to eat meat as it could be contaminated from radioactive material. Romania had severe food rationing then, but foreigners had access to meat, a luxury. I remember the people who served the food looking at me rather oddly as I refused pork neck and beef steaks. I explained I was a vegetarian; it was the only excuse I could think of. Romania was not a free country before 1989. The streets were silent, there was little television and people were afraid to speak to foreigners, as it was all but forbidden. Conversations with foreigners had to be reported with the Securitate, or secret police. I can remember snippets of conversation about Ceausescu knocking down old buildings, and of course we learned Romanian in the lessons, but you couldn’t really speak freely. One Sunday, I snuck out of Bucharest with a fellow student and we went to Mogosoia where we met two young men who had gone to prison after trying to

escape Romania illegally. We were invited to their home, ate polenta with fried egg, and were treated with friendship and warmth. I spent 10 days in Romania during the revolution; the most dramatic and scary part were the days I spent in Timișoara, where we encountered road blocks with soldiers wielding bayonets and shooting at the hotel we were staying in. By December 26, my birthday, it was over. Romanian TV showed images of the Ceausescu’s bodies, the hotel brought out steaks, salad and champagne that they’d probably been hoarding, and we headed off to Bucharest in

a hired Dacia. By New Year’s Eve, I was on a flight out. But that was only the beginning. I came back to Romania many times in 1990, with a rock concert and various television crews. Quite by accident, I witnessed the coal miners’ bloody crackdown of an anti-communist protest in University Square in June 1990 where six people died and hundreds were injured. I still remember filming in a Bucharest hospital and miners telling me they objected to the students because they “know books.” In other words, they could read and therefore were not productive members of society.

DECEMBER 2019 Gone to a Revolution, Back Soon

I moved to Romania in June 1991. It was my “do or die” moment. I gave myself three months to make a go of it as a journalist. I’m still here and I’m still a journalist. I worked as a freelancer in the days when we sent copy down the telephone line or on a telex and then for 25 years for the Associated Press. In the early 1990s, I loved Tuesdays and Wednesdays because the best weeklies would come out and there would be piles of newspapers on the pavement in Piata Romana when I came down in the morning. Now, there are few papers, as most news outlets are online. Television is live and runs all day long rather than bulletins at certain times throughout the day and radio hasn’t changed so much, still a reasonably reliable source of news and information. I am working for a new site, universul.net, mainly on the English section with Dan Turturica, one of the bright and smart people I met in the early days when I arrived in Romania. It’s like I’ve come full circle and am back where I started. Journalism is one of those professions that chooses people. It chose me as much as I chose it. I read the news the moment I wake up and before I go to sleep. News is just stories about the world and what happens and people and what they get up to. The great and the good, the anonymous and the ordinary, we are front-line witnesses; we tell the story of the world, as it happens.

Alison’s book “Plecata la Revolutie” chronicles her entanglement with Romania starting from school days in Tunbridge Wells when she first picked up a book about Romania in the local library through to the revolution and then to the moment when Romania joined the EU. The book is part autobiography and partly a selection of stories Alison wrote for the AP. It’s available in all good bookstores.. •


Of Lizards, Bedsheets & Conflicted Feelings The week that changed Romania

by Douglas Williams in Conversation with Dan Turturica Dan Turturica, seen here in the middle, wearing denim jacket and giving the V-sign.


n December 1989 Dan Turturica was a 20-yearold student who dabbled with acting. Now one of the country’s foremost political commentators, Dan’s passion for politics was stoked by his grandfather, whose sweet shop had been commandeered by the communists. Together they would listen to Free Europe Radio each night, and through December 1989, Dan was well aware of the dramatic changes sweeping this part of the world. The night of December 17, 1989, Dan was an extra in a famous play about Vlad the Impaler called “A Treia Teapă” (Three Stakes), directed by Ion Caramitru. Towards the end of Ceausescu’s rule, some leniency was permitted to thespians and playwrights such that some gentle criticism of the regime took place in theatres. These criticisms were known as “lizards” and were much enjoyed

by audiences at the time - “I’m so hungry,” an actor might roar, winking, as most of his fellow Romanians were hungry. That night the Vlad character in “A Treia Teapă,” portrayed by Victor Rebengiuc, peppered his long monologue with a tirade of “lizards,” but these were of a different sort - corruption, anger, uprising, even rage. This was the night after the initial Timisoara uprising. The audience, briefly stunned, was in uproar. Dan had snuck into the back. He wasn’t due back on stage for ages. The crowd wouldn’t calm down, dissent was in the air. The theatre buzzed with a revolutionary energy, though no one at the time had a clue what was set to happen in the next week. Four days later Dan’s best friend received his conscription paper. He was to report to barracks and prepare for duty in Timișoara. A fitting

farewell was in order and the birds were singing by the time the party finally petered out. Dan tottered off, hoping the walk across town would sober him up. “Jos Ceausescu” - he could hear the chanting but couldn’t believe his ears. He sat down, unable to comprehend what was going on. The chanting was real. Pretty soon people began passing him with bed sheets painted with the same message - “Jos Ceausescu” - Down with Ceausescu! Soon the streets were filled with folk all heading to Piata Romana. Without a second thought, Dan joined the crowd and soon found himself in running battles with the securitate. The rest of that day was a blur of long pent up anger. As night fell, the atmosphere plummeted, and gun shots could be heard all around as the securitate upped its efforts to catch the rioters. Dan was chased through the city till he

finally found sanctuary with two old ladies. They mistakenly thought he was the postman bringing them their pension. Dan was safe. That night, dozens of people across Bucharest died. News of the Christmas Day execution of the Ceaucescus greeted Dan, along with most Romanians, like a miracle, accompanied with disbelief. Almost inconceivable. It was later that he saw the TV footage of the elderly dictator climbing from the armoured vehicle, and there was a confusing feeling of sympathyL Christmas Day, an old man heading towards his bloody end, but an old man who had caused such misery to so many for so long. “I wanted him dead so badly but I couldn’t help but feel pity for him,” says Dan. • Dan Turturica is Editor in Chief at Universul.net

W W W.O Z B . R O D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 9 Of Lizards, Bedsheets & Conflicted Feelings



Back in '89... T.O. BOBE (born Teodor Dobrin, in February 1969, in Constanta), is a Romanian writer, screenwriter, copywriter and editor. He is a graduate of the Faculty of Letters of the University of Bucharest. He authored and co-authored both prose and poetry books. Among his individual published works are: Bucla (Curl), Darul lui Moş Crăciun (Santa’s Gift), Cum mi-am petrecut vacanţa de vară (How I spent my summer vacation), Contorsionista (the Controsionist). His poetic work has been included in the « 111 most beautiful love poems in Romanian literature”. Bucla (Curl) was translated into German and English.

Writer T.O.Bobe Reflects On The Past 30 years.

by Dana Tudose Tianu

photograph by Ariana Vulpe


riter T.O. Bobe went to highschool in the mid 80s and could not have imagined how his life would change at the close of 1989. But the predictable and limiting options that would have been in store for him, as for millions of other young Romanians back then, shifted into something completely different that December. Many new doors opened in the life of a man in love with reading and writing. In December 1989, T.O. Bobe was 20 years old. He worked in the Constanta Harbor, for a company exporting cars, from Dacias to trucks. His job was to keep records of all incoming cars, sign them in when they arrived from the factory into the Harbor, and sign them out when they were loaded on ships. His office consisted of a metal box in the middle of an immense parking lot. He and his colleagues worked in shifts day and night, but sometimes weeks would go by before he’d have actual work to do. When there wasn’t any, he read. During the winter, they would improvise a stove out of a metal barrel and use pieces of wood found around the harbor. Dana Tudose-Tianu spoke to T.O. Bobe for our OZB readers.

How did you end up working at the Constanta Harbor? I got a job there in the fall of 1988, after flunking college admission twice. I was pretty happy though, because I had a job where I had time to read and study. We only had 3 hours of electricity each day, one in the morning and two in the evening, from 8 to 10 pm. 16

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Reading had been a refuge and entertainment for me during my teen years. My family was modest, my parents were workers and writers seemed to me, back then, an inaccessible caste. I had written poetry already, but I knew that in order to be a writer in communist Romania, a lot of compromises had to be made. I wouldn’t have made them just to see my name on a book cover.

How was the first decade after the Revolution? How much did you get to practice your vocation – writing? In 1995, I got a job as a literary secretary at Teatrul Mic in Bucharest, after starting my Masters’, only because I would have otherwise starved. I didn’t have a scholarship anymore and my mother could barely survive on unemployment. There, at Teatrul Mic, I met a former college mate, who ultimately helped me get a job at ProTV, where I worked until 2001, writing mostly for entertainment shows like Jeopardy. My first book, Bucla (Curl) was published in 1999. Back then I didn’t think of myself as a writer. I’m a man who writes and, every few years, publishes a book. I wrote movie scripts in 2001-2003, but none of them got into production. In 2003, right before I left to Germany for a creative residency, I wrote the script for a series at prima TV, for a few months. It was the first time I felt like and was actually paid as a screenwriter.

What have the past 30 years meant to you, from the perspective of

DECEMBER 2019 BAck in '89...

living out your love for literature ? The last 30 years have increasingly meant more and more anxiety and uncertainty, when it comes to the role literature plays in our society. If, in the early 90s, when I was studying, literature meant everything to me, now I hardly can grasp its meaning. What good is it to read, when there’s almost no one around to talk about a book with? So many books are being published, everyone reads something else. If you publish a book and are lucky to have 1000 people read it, it will be forgotten in less than a week.

Could you name 2-3 people who played an important part in your life and career? All my jobs were more related to surviving rather than planning out a career. I never planned to have a certain career. But when it comes to literature, I had many miraculous meetings, starting with my high school professor, writer Eugen Lumezianu, then my college friends, of which almost all became great writers: Răzvan Rădulescu, Svetlana Cârstean, Cezar Paul-Bădescu, and many others. Then, I met Mircea Cartarescu at the Letters literary group (Cenaclul Litere). Without him, I wouldn’t have debuted as a writer. In the early 2000s, it was Herta Muller who gave the opportunity for a creative residency abroad – and without it I don’t think I would have ever made the time or gotten the courage to begin writing prose. •


The place where the Romanian Revolution Ended. Or Did it?

One View Dominates in Romania’s 14 to 40s: The Revolution Was Not as It Seemed by David Shoup


n a gray fall day just next to Targoviste train station, I visited MB 01417, the former military barracks where the long time dictator of communist Romania met his violent end on Christmas Day, 1989. Chalk lines mark the place where Nicolae Ceaucescu and his wife Elena fell in a hail of AK-47 bullets. The crumbling wall behind is still riddled with holes. The popular uprising and subsequent chaos across Romania, particularly the shocking displays of violence in Bucharest, captured international attention that year as the

last and bloodiest of the ‘89 European revolutions. Born two years after these events, and still relatively new to Romania, I sought out the viewpoints of those who grew up in the shadow of the revolution, to gain their insights on what it means to them three decades later. I caught up with Andrei, a first year university student in Bucharest, as he walked past MB 01417 from the station, home for a few days to visit his parents. “What revolution?” he asked when I inquired how he reflected on 1989. “What hap-

pened here was a coup by the security police. Our first president to come after communism was himself a communist and ruled for ten years. Does that sound like a revolution to you?” Perplexed, I returned to the capital and asked an even younger Romanian to explain what Andrei might have meant. Razvan attends a private high school in Bucharest, and for a 14 year old, his passion for history is impressive. “I can’t say it was a street war between government troops and anti-government people like the Americans saw on CNN, but more of a

war between communists over whether to keep Ceaucescu or put a new Ceaucescu in place,” Razvan told me. “All of these other communist regimes west of here had already fallen by December of ‘89. The security services knew Romania needed a change, but it had to be a change on their terms.” Both of these viewpoints struck me as a bit fantastical. It’s easy to find 9/11 conspiracists in American highschools and universities. I needed to talk to someone my own age. Dan, 27, is a junior partner at an investment firm in the capital, and surprised

W W W.O Z B . R O D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 9 One View Dominates in Romania's 14 to 40s: The Revolution Was Not as It Seemed



me further when he concurred with Andrei and Razvan. Over coffee, I tried to rephrase my questions, asking him what he thought of all the protestors, many of them students, who stood their ground and died all over Bucharest that December. “They were brave,” Dan said. “Very brave. But they didn’t realize that what was happening was mostly orchestrated by powerful figures operating in the shadows. They needed to die so that the hasty removal and execution of Ceaucescu could be justified.” This all struck me as borderline nihilistic, so I MB 01417, the former military barracks and site of the trial and execution of the Ceaucescus. headed to a low key watering hole to find a drink and, with it, more perspective. Alex, 24, a film animator from Bucharest, told me he’s more interested in the events that took place after 1989, events which demonstrate the rocky road towards a capitalist liberal democracy. leaders. Look at the illegal blasting the Beatles’ ‘Here programmer from Bucharest, “Look at the proteslogging for example. CorrupComes the Sun.’ It was a wandered over to offer his tors versus miners violence tion is their only motivation strange time.” own thoughts. Unlike the in 1991,” he said, sitting in a to carry out basic functions Adrian said that the others, Adrian is old enough popular underground bar in of government. If you try to cynicism of the younger generto remember the events of Bucharest frequented by Roation in Romania is reasonable, overcome this, the system will 1989. That December thirty manian artists. “These people just collapse.” but that the focus ought to wanted their voices to be heard years ago, he found himself Adrian said he does supbe diverted towards enacting far out of the city during the that change wasn’t coming fast gradual and consistent progres- port reforms, but claimed that revolution, attending a winter enough, and miners from the he isn’t voting for any of the sive change. math olympiad getaway. He Jiu Valley were paid to go in parties or candidates anytime “It doesn’t really matter remembers his parents driving and beat them to death.” soon. whether the revolution was a “It was super wrong,” Alex, a full generation popular revolt or a security Alex added, taking a long younger than Adrian, comcoup, or if it was organized by drag from his cigarette as he “ As young people, we pletely disagreed. He recently the CIA or the KGB,” Adrian contemplated the right English voted for Theodor Paleologu in said. “What matters is what’s word to express his disgust. can’t do anything about the first round of the Presigoing to happen now and on “It was super unjust. The dential Election, solely on the the road ahead..” worst part is that the man who basis, he says, that he views the past. What we Adrian then dropped a organized all of this retained Paleologu as the candidate with rhetorical bomb on the two of power for another decade and the least history of corruption. us, by offering a radically difcontinued to pull the strings can change now is the “Voting does make a ferent take on how to consider of the ruling political party for difference,” Alex insisted to Romania’s path forward. years afterwards.” government ” me and a skeptical Adrian. “I “These kids are talking Later in the ‘90s, both want highways, I want higher about fighting the system and a Romanian court and a study salaries for doctors, not to ending corruption,” Adrian of the violent protests by the mention more hospitals, and said, nodding towards a visibly Sandhurst Military Academy in up to the camp, announcing modernized hospitals at that. annoyed Alex. “Without corthe UK did find evidence of di- that Ceaucescu was gone and I want transparency in our ruption, Romania will dissolve. asking that everyone stay there rect state security involvement politics. As young people, we In many ways, this is largely a until the violence had ended. in the 1991 killings. can’t do anything about the feudal state. Money is filtered “Then they turned Overhearing our loud past. What we can change now from Bucharest out to the around and drove away,” conversation in English, Adriis the government.” • village mayors and provincial Adrian recalled. “All the while an, 40, a Harvard educated 18

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Revisiting the Revolution by Rupert Wolfe Murray

Nicolea, Elena and Nicu Ceausescu before the fall...


n 1989 I was a journalist, in Scotland, covering the revolution and I came to Romania in January 1990 and stayed -- for 17 years. I’ve always been interested in how Communism was overthrown and now the EU are funding a documentary film about my perspective on Romania 30 years after the revolution.

Was it a revolution? The anger you can still find today about this issue seem to revolve around the view that the whole thing was a fake. Many educated Romanians I come across say, “it wasn’t a real revolution. It was a coup d’etat. We were ma-

nipulated.” This seems to be particularly true in Bucharest, but not in Timisoara where the whole thing kicked off as a genuine workers’ revolt. The basis for this “we were cheated” view seems to be that Romanians were expecting the revolution to usher in levels of wealth and development that would be equivalent to what you can find in Western Europe. I believe this viewpoint is based on the Communist education that the older generation of Romanians went through -and passed on to their children. According to the Leninist view, a revolution marks the point when a Communist nation rejects the corrupt, exploitative old ways and starts on a new

journey based on equality for all. It’s a great story and you can see the graphics that supported it on the old banknotes, flags, banners and books: strong workers and peasants standing proud under a rising sun.

Russia had been weakened by the First World War and the Germans arranged a sealed train that transported Lenin and his ruthless gang from Switzerland to St Petersburg. The workers were used as a force to overwhelm the author-

“ A lot of Romanians seem to believe that the whole thing was cooked up by the Russians ” But the Communist’s “happy ending” revolution story was based on a lie: If you take the Russian definition -- a workers’ revolt -- their own revolution in 1917 was one of the biggest fakes in history: the only reason it happened was because Tsarist

ities and then to justify 70 years of terror. Even though Romanian intellectuals know that Communism resulted in high levels of suspicion, corruption and economic stagnation, many still believe a revolution should result in positive progress -- as

W W W.O Z B . R O D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 9 Revisiting the Revolution



if it’s some sort of electoral promise -- and now they’re stuck with a society that is mired in corruption and poverty. It’s as if they bought a TV or washing machine and now want to take it back to the shop because it doesn’t work. But revolutions only come with a promise – not with a warranty.

The priest's house in Timisoara where the revolution began in 1989

2019 - wall art just round the corner from where the revolution began in Tiisoara

The French and Russian Revolutions My own view of a revolution is based on a statement that one of my high school history teachers made: “A revolution is simply a violent change of regime. The word also means to turn something round. It’s used to measure the speed of a car’s engine -- revolutions per minute -- in other words how many times does the engine turn round.” If you look up the word revolution in the dictionary you get the same meaning. Google says it’s simply “a forcible overthrow of a government or social order.” No mention of a governing programme or of things getting better. In fact, my study of history at university showed that the French and Russian revolutions resulted in many years of war, famine and economic devastation. In British culture and history, a revolution is a disaster that should be avoided at all costs.

The Russians were behind it The army was glorified under Communism

Rupert Wolfe Murray first came to Romania in 1986. He came back as a journalist for Scotland on Sunday in January 1990 and with the filmmaker Laurentiu Calciu filmed made the film “After the Revolution.” Their next film – 30 Years Since the Romanian Revolution – is being produced by Mihai Dragolea and will be launched on the European Commission’s website in December 2019. 20

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A lot of Romanians seem to believe that the whole thing was cooked up by the Russians, who didn’t like Ceausescu and so they replaced him with Iliescu. There is some evidence to back this up and I know one British journalist who saw a lot of Russians here in late 1989. But even if this were true it doesn’t change the fact that it was a mass, popular, violent, chaotic change of regime. I’ve just been talking to someone in Timisoara who was a student at the time; he was on the bus to a disco when he joined the protest outside the house of the Hungarian priest -- Laszlo Tokes – whose individual protest

started the whole thing. My guy was thrown in jail, many others were shot dead, but the real crunch was when the Timisoara workers came out; then it spread to Bucharest and it was Game Over for Ceausescu. It certainly wasn’t a military coup d’etat. A coup is a violent but usually quite well organised power-grab that doesn’t involve the kind of crowds, and chaos, that took place in Romania during December 1989. The other thing that’s undeniable is that Romania’s revolution ushered in capitalism -- even though it has resulted in high levels of corruption, poverty and authoritarian thinking in the public sector. In other words it was a change of system, not a well-oiled military coup that just changed the leadership.

Romanians should take credit for their revolution The worst thing about the rejection of the revolution is that it removes the credit for what was an incredible act of bravery. Even if the whole thing was stage-managed by the Russians a lot of Romanians risked their lives for their nation’s freedom when it wasn’t clear if their gambit would pay off. Romania has shown a lot of courage over the years -- like standing up to the offshore fund that wants to poison the region around Rosia Montana with cyanide -- and it seems wrong to deny that this courage also resulted in the overthrowing of one of Eastern Europe’s most brutal dictators. I know a lot of left-wing British people who would love to have had a decent revolution in our history; based on the assumption that it would have led to radical change. My view is that Romanians should appreciate theirs for the act of courage that it undoubtedly was. Also, there have been massive changes in Romania. Not only do they have food in the shops, heating in the homes and lights in the streets but people can travel freely now and that, arguably, justifies the change of regime. •

Photograph by Cristian Radu W W W.O Z B . R O D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 9




Revitalising Romanian Heritage

stablished in 2000, Mihai Eminescu Trust aims to bring forward and cultivate the emotional connection between communities and the valuable local heritage. MET`s mission is to develop and implement projects together with local communities in order to protect, value and revitalise the natural and cultural heritage of Romania. Mihai Eminescu Trust created the


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`Whole Village Project` representing a concept that aims to empower communities to treasure and cultivate their heritage sustainably. `The Whole Village Project` aims to revitalise and develop the rural communities sustainably through the preservation and valuing of the cultural and natural heritage as well as by supporting these communities in becoming self-sufficient. MET encourages people to keep their traditional way of life in harmony with nature and local customs. In almost 20 years of activity, MET developed and implemented over 1200 projects, with a value of over 10 million Euros, across the counties of Braşov, Mureş, Sibiu, Maramureş, Harghita and

DECEMBER 2019 Revitalising Romanian Heritage

Covasna. From small projects on preservation of the natural and cultural heritage to large integrated projects all aiming towards a sustainable development of the Transylvanian communities. Today Mihai Eminescu Trust receives national and international recognition. The `Whole Village Concept` is seen as an example of good practice and was included in the Europa Noastra Learning kit for heritage Civil Society Organisations. Mihai Eminescu trust is one of the FARO Convention Network active members as well as a dialogue partner for European Commissioners and an important contact point for various embassies. •


Photographs by Cristian Radu

Mihai Eminescu Trust |10 Cojocarilor Street |Sighişoara, 545400, Mureș County | Tel/fax: +40 265 50 60 24 | contact@mihaieminescutrust.ro | www.mihaieminescutrust.ro | www.experiencetransylvania.ro W W W.O Z B . R O D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 9



The Artist Restaurant, Bucharest


aul and Mihaela Oppenkamp are approaching their 7-year anniversary since opening their restaurant, the Artist, on Calea Victoriei 147, in Bucharest. Paul, originally from Hoorn, the Netherlands, is the creator of the cuisine served in the restaurant, while Mihaela, originally from Bucharest, ensures a smooth front of house and administrative operations.

Chef Paul Oppenkamp, Co-Founder


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Paul, on how the winter season inspires him: “Autumn and Winter are my favorite seasons. The smells of cinnamon, pears, gingerbread, pumpkin and cabbage remind me of all the food my mother prepared when I was young, it brings me

DECEMBER 2019 The Artist Restaurant, Bucharest

sweet memories around the time I start thinking of my career. I feel these seasons as more challenging, it pushes us chefs harder to be creative with the smaller variety of fresh produce available.” On Romanian gastronomy “For me Romanian gastronomy has its own identity, it’s a creative mix of traditions that has been developed to suit the taste of its people, therefore creating exciting flavors and combinations you would otherwise not have discovered. It respects its origin while it also lends itself to be creative. The way Romanian are proud of their cuisine and its origin is really a great thing to see as it is important for us to preserve that history.” •

Recipe of

the Month from Chef Paul Oppenkamp, the Artist Restaurant, Bucharest

Mangalitsa Pork Terrine with Cranberries & Pistachio while working fast so the fat doesn’t

plastic tight taking out all the air and


melt. Add in the egg, cream, pistachio,

with a little piece of string tie up both

Approx 4 / 5 portions

cranberries and soaked white bread.

ends so the roll remains tightly sealed.

n a spice grinder combine the

Check the seasoning by putting a tiny

Place in a container filled with water

300 Gram Mangalitsa Pork Neck

nutmeg, paprika, thyme and bay-

bit in boiling water for a few moments.

and place in the oven for about 1 hour,

2 Table Spoons dried cranberries

leave and grind to a fine mixture.

Place the mixture in a piping bag.

or until the internal temperature will

Cut the pork into small cubes and

Prepare the oven on 75 degrees or

reach 65 degrees. Or place in a sous

2 table spoons peeled toasted pistachio nuts

toss them with the spice mix, salt and

if you have circulator set it for 65

vide bath at 65 degrees for about 45

2 bay-leaves

pepper. The mixture should smell



0.2 gram Nutmeg

Leave the terrine to cool overnight

2 gram Paprika powder



slightly nutmeg with a combo of


and slice in thin slices.

bay-leave. You could add some more

Lay out plastic film on the table and

depending on preference. Place the

carefully place the bacon slice by slice

mixture in the freezer for 15 minutes

so they just overlap each other about

to get cold.

30 cm long. With the pipe bag pipe,

Place the toast bread in a bowl and

a straight line of pork mixture about

add some milk, enough for the bread

3cm in diameter. Carefully fold over the

to soak it all in.

plastic film so that the bacon will go

With a meat grinder ground the pork

completely around the pork. Roll the

Serving suggestion:


he terrine goes well with freshly toasted brioche and

cranberry marmalade, or with some pickled vegetables. •

4 gram dried thyme 1 egg 50 ml cream 2 slices toast bread Milk Salt / black pepper Slices raw cured bacon

Photographs by Bisoc Irinel

W W W.O Z B . R O D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 9 Castelul Lupilor (Wolve's Castle)



Around the Family Holiday Dinner: The Peace-Maker’s Role by Dana Tudose Tianu

Dana Tudose-Tianu is a Family Mediator For more information see www.casa-tianu. com


he holidays are coming, and most of us will be spending time with our extended family. That will include, aside from the nuclear family of parents and children, grandparents, parents-in-law, uncles and aunts, cousins and family friends.


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But who is sitting around the table, sociologically speaking? By now, the host of the “big holiday dinner” knows the roles everyone plays. She usually plays the peace-maker, along aunt Marie, who is 90 years old and can’t hear very well. So, again, sociologically speaking, here’s whom you might be having around the holiday table: The “I’m always right” character, who may be the host’s own husband, a grandparent or an uncle. No one wants to sit next to him( or her) or, even worse, across from him. No con-

DECEMBER 2019 Around the Family Holiday Dinner: The Peace-Maker’s Role


versation is possible there, because some people feel validated just by proving everyone constantly wrong. So whatever you’d say, you have NO IDEA what you’re talking about. You’ll be able to squeeze in perhaps 30 words in a 30-minute conversation that will leave you mentally drained. The “nothing is working, everything is going from bad to worse” character. The pessimist of the group will wipe that smile off of his or her idealistic niece’s face (let’s call her Susie) in two split seconds, right after she announces she got lead character in My Fair Lady, an off-off-Broadway production (something like a theatre no one ever heard about and hardly anyone other than the actors’ family and friends ever goes to see). The pessimistic can’t stand seeing people happy. What a waste!! What illusory and superficial views on life! He or she must rectify the situation immediately and remind the 19 year old niece that she will be starving as an actress and as a foreign languages major in college. “We’ll talk again in 3 years when you are unemployed”, he’ll make sure to remind her in such a way that everyone will hear. He will, of course, not attend the niece’s show. A waste of time and money. Luckily, you, the host and peace-maker, together with aunt Marie, sing Susie’s praises and buy 10 tickets right away for her show next month. By now you’ve started counted the minutes in the three or so hours left of this annual Family Christmas dinner. The “gossip girl”. This could be several people around the table, but it’s usually one (let’s say an aunt or a family friend, for the sake of stereotypical exam-

ples) who sits right next to you, the host, and, right in the middle of a 5-second silence, when everyone is eating their sarmale, will ask: “So, dear, I saw you in that café last week with a very handsome man. Who was he?”, or “I hear you changed jobs, how much are they paying you”, or “Are you still breastfeeding? Your little one looks very thin, you know”, or “I saw your ex-husband on the street a few days ago. He was with this gorgeous blonde, but I’m sure she had no brains. He looked totally dashing, I must say. Is he remarried?” The children. Aged 0 to 19, they have roles, too: the super cute ones, 0 to 6, are perfect conversational buffers. When things get tense, just bring in the baby. Women will go “uhh, aaah, awww, how cute” and withdraw from any conflicting, negative, investigative or bashing conversation for about 20 minutes. The entire audience’s attention can be further captured by the 3 to 6 year olds’ mis-en-scene of Frozen, Sleeping Beauty or Rapunzel. That will last about 10 minutes. The problem is with the older children. They are triggers of potentially dangerous conversations among the adults around the table. Especially any child who possesses a talent (plays the piano, paints, sings). The debates will soon arise. “He won’t amount to anything if he keeps playing the piano. Every boy these days has to be a computer genius”; “I know a piano player in Bucharest. He is 60, twice divorced, because when he was younger he traveled all the time, so who would stay with him? Now he walks his dogs and keeps the accounting for our building for extra income.”

Counterattack from the artistic side of the family: “Oh, look at him, he is a genius. No, he really is. I’ve NEVER heard a 12-year old play the piano so well. Do you know he was selected to play at the opening of that new mall? And he’s being paid 100 Euro!!” Silence follows for a few seconds and you can feel the tension in the air. It could get worse, if all of them, together, in unison, turn towards the poor piano prodigy: “So, what do you REALLY want to be when you grow up?” You, the host, must intervene at this fatidic moment and extract the boy by way of bringing in MANY deserts and more to drink. Two more characters will most likely be around your table: “the star” of the family and the “nouveau rich”. Mind you, these two roles sometimes change from year to year. However, the star can be the rich person, the famous person, the smart or very intellectual person, the one who is “above” such petty conversations and whom few around the table dare to bother. He or she smiles politely, will probably take a couple of calls during the evening, squeeze in one or two very important names of people, from actors to politicians, his “very good” friends. The nouveau rich will just drop in names, brand names, vacation spot names, names of super expensive gifts and drinks, talk about vacations in the Seychelles, Martinique and Monaco, all of which happened in the past month. He or she has recently been to the opening of a new luxury brand store and was appalled, mind you, to see the poor quality of things there. Bucharest just doesn’t compare to

London, you know. Poor you, the host, the mediator, the peace-maker… I feel for you and so many of us have been you. I want you to think about your holiday dinner like setting up a staged play. Carefully sit people in strategic positions around the table, plan entrance of children for cute performances, make sure there is more food than anyone can eat and plenty to drink. For 4-6 hours you must do nothing else but to carefully observe, intervene, mediate and negotiate. There are many other characters you may have around the table…the academician, too intellectual to talk to, the expert who finds it hard to use a normal vocabulary; the patriarch who knows what everyone should do with their life; the general who commands around… But you, the peace-maker, deserve a big Christmas gift and a medal, for obviously thinking of something else, something that no one else around the table (except for aunt Marie) is thinking about: how to help EVERYONE have a good time (or at least not have a terrible time), how to create the feeling and spirit of the holidays, how to set an example of what a harmonious house looks like, for the children who are carefully observing, though they do not seem to. But should the holiday dinner be like this? When will the peace-maker have his or her relaxing family dinner? The answer to that is…when a few more people around the table take on thinking and caring about making the OTHERS feel good. •

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Season's Greetings from the team at Bali Temple!

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NANA D E C E MTherapist BER 2019

402 266 / office@balitemple.ro. When reserving please quote OZB or put in the reference line to receive a 15% discount! Bali Temple, Street Ghiozdanului 6, Sector 1, Bucharest








The house, originally built in 1914, has been completely restored and turned into a contemporary New Romanian Cuisine restaurant.

Contemporary Cuisine with Romanian Flourish at Kane

by David McLean Shoup


he dining experience at Kane, billed by the restaurant itself as “an illustration of what contemporary Romanian creativity stands for,” is not one to miss. Kane just re-opened after a move to its new location not far from the Intercontinental Hotel, and its building is a masterpiece, matched by the interior, and of course, the meals. For Romanians and expats seeking a new approach to local cuisine, or visitors eager for a proper introduction to some of the best culinary offerings in Bucharest, Kane offers an ideal slice of mouth watering authenticity. Tucked away inside a beautifully restored interbelic house on the fork in the road at Strada Dianei, and just a hop, skip,

and a jump from the Universitate Metro, Kane is the type of restaurant whose dinners’ visual presentation matches its unique, fresh, and local taste. Make a reservation in advance online, and don’t worry about bringing cash; the restaurant is card-only. You can expect excellent insight from the waitstaff on the ingredients and source of every dish. While the menu, like much of Romanian cuisine, is heavy on meat, pescetarians and vegetarians can still delight in wide ranging and seasonal options. The white fish fillet is served very fresh from the Danube, well garnished with root vegetables. Customers can expect to spend over

200 Ron for a meal here, but this is still a substantially good deal when one compares Kane’s prices to comparable restaurants in Paris, Prague, or even Budapest. For those, like this author, who have a tighter budget, the “Tasting Menu” is a good option for couple’s dining. The duck is extraordinary, lean and delicious. In addition to subtle lighting and a perfectly fitting ambient soundtrack, the presentation of Kane dishes cannot go unmentioned. This is artistic dining at its finest, and Kane’s new location contributes to its place as one of the newest points of pride in Bucharest’s culinary scene. Lastly, don’t skip the dessert. • W W W.O Z B . R O D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 9

Contemporary Cuisine with Romanian Flourish at Kane



Top Tipple For A Cracking Crăciun by Robert Marshall


t’s fair to say that most of us enjoy a bottle of wine from time to time, and, often, we plum for the same plonk in order to avoid disappointment, aiming to stay solvent whilst compromising our sobriety. The vinous seas that surround wine world are vast, difficult to navigate even for us professionals. Many wine buyers are reticent to fork out another 5 or 10 euros on a bottle for fear of disappointment and there’s nothing worse than exceeding your budget on a big name wine and then desperately trying to coax enjoyment and pleasure out of your glass, all the while doubting whether it was worth paying the extra cash for

something that tastes unfamiliar, abstract and strange. Christmas is all about indulgence, and hopefully our seasonal tipple tips will give some guidance on a selection of Romanian premium wines and explain why it can be great to push the boat out when it comes to choosing your high-quality plonk to pop open this festive season.



hether it’s a party or a just a nicely prepared dinner a sparkling wine is a great way to kick off the celebrations and with Carassia Blanc de blancs brut Magnum you have a fair amount of fizz (1.5 litres) to start the festivities. Under law Champagne must be made from grapes grown, fermented, matured and bottled in the delineated area that is the Champagne region of France and as a famous luxury product it carries a price tag to match. 30

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This doesn’t mean that other producers can’t produce a mousse to rival the French famous fizz in other parts of the world. Hailing from the north-west part of Romania, Carastelec have invested in similar technology and planted the same grape varieties as Champagne producers and the result is a beautiful, elegant and award-winning wine (Gold Medal at Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championship 2018, no

less). Made entirely from Chardonnay grapes the second fermentation takes place in the bottles with 30 months ageing on ‘the lees’, or dead yeast cells, which gives its characteristic voluminous texture and biscuity aroma. Delicious and refined on the palate, the combination of citrus fruits and green apples leads to long and honied finish.

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t would be normal to list a white wine, or at least a rose, in our list of xmas recommendations, but the shelves are stocked with flavourful examples of refreshing, crisp Sauvignon Blancs and oaky, well-rounded Chardonnays, not to mention an overbearing amount of rose wine, enough to satisfy us throughout the year. So, as we enter a new decade, why not try something new? Why not try an Orange wine? As opposed to red wine most white wines are made without any contact with the skins of the grapes. Oliver Bauer, owner and winemaker of Crama Bauer, allows the grape juice to ferment with the skins, which not only produces a distinctive orange, golden huge but also adds a more complex, and often savoury, flavours as well as a textured mouthfeel that has more in common with red wines. The floral and vegetal notes means O.R.A.N.G.E teams up well with roast veggies, especially parsnip and pumpkin, combined with a pleasant and refreshing citrusy finish. Orange wines are becoming increasingly popular with consumers and are more readily available in wine shops and restaurants not only in Romania, but throughout the world.



vincis is a winery that hit the ground running when it was first established by the Stoica family in 2007 and has consistently produced exciting and complex wines made from both local, indigenous varieties from Drăgășani, and from well-known international varieties Cuvee Grandiflora is a graceful combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and depending on the vintage – the local grape Negru de Drăgăşani, blended to create an intense and ripe red wine that is perfect for more robust, gamey and spicy meat dishes. Like all classic Bordeaux influenced blends the Cabernet Sauvignon delivers nuances of blackcurrant and subtle violet, whilst providing structure and weight to the wine. The merlot balances this robust intensity with fruitier flavours of red currants and cherries and a portion of the of the varieties are aged in new French oak barrels for just over a year, which rounds off the sharp edges and helps develop notes of vanilla, coffee and spice. If you have the patience; give it a decant or several generous swirls in your glass before tucking into your Christmas dinner.



uring the previous two centuries luscious sweet wines were appreciated and prized by royal courts across Europe and these luxurious liquors were supposedly dabbed on the lips of dying Dukes and Kings to revive them from their deathbeds. Sweet styles of wine are largely ignored by most modern wine consumers who want cool, dry crisp whites, whilst keeping a check on their waistlines, and wines with a high sugar content have fallen out of favour with the public. This doesn’t mean, however, that there isn’t a market for this style of wine and with its heady and decadent flavours lusciously sweet wines are perfect for gastronomic indulgences and, along with sweet sherries and port, are easily enjoyed at Christmas. Sweet wines are made in small quantities, and usually come in half bottles, because the grapes are late harvested ( in autumn, when then obtain maximum sugar levels) or, in the case of Liliac Ice wine,

when the berries are actually frozen and still attached to the vines. For Liliac this is a labour intensive process that takes place at night, before the berries thaw in freezing Transylvanian temperatures. Because the water in the pulp is frozen a natural, pure and very sweet grape juice is extracted using a delicate pressing which, after a period of 9 months maturation, produces intense aromas and flavours of lychee, tropical fruits, ripe apricot and peach supported by a nice, clean finish. If cloying sweetness is not to your taste, just remember that a great sweet wine will always have a backbone of acidity that keeps the palate refreshed and can be the perfect elixir of indulgence to compliment a Cracking Craicun! W W W.O Z B . R O D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 9



Frosty Fashion with a Clear Conscience by Anda Ene


ZB’s Anda Ene spoke with Tica Darie, founder of the Made In Rosia Montana Project, about the work she’s done and how it has changed this troubled community.

What drew you to this remote area and particularly hooked you to Rosia Montana rather than other parts of Romania that also need protection and support?

The first time I stepped foot in Rosia Montana, more or less by accident, I was 14 years old and attending the FanFest Festival. It was then that I discovered the beauty of this mountain village, but also the danger it was exposed to due to the proposed mining project. Later on , when I was a student in Copenhagen, the situation in Rosia Montana was escalating and I decided to get actively involved. So I started all sorts of activities that were meant to increase visibility. Rosia Montana and the fight for getting the community out of the economic, social and cultural blockage has 32

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become the main focus of all of my energy and resources.

In January 2015 you started the madeinrosiamontana project. Hot has it evolved since? Can you say today that is a sustainable business?

We are in our fifth year of activity and we work together with 30 women from Rosia Montana. Each year we’ve had better results. But the fact that is a seasonal activity does slow the growth process.

Who are your clients?

We have clients from various backgrounds, private buyers, who purchase our products for themselves or their families, as well as companies who wish to gift their employees beautiful, useful, and high quality products for different kinds of events. The story that our products tell is often a factor in our clients’ decision. What did you learn about social entrepreneurship how to change a community? My own personal experience has

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taught me how I should be looking at this business and how to be financially fair to the women who produce these products. But mostly, I have learned how to efficiently invest the profit so that it will have a maximum impact on the community. We are directing 10% of our profits to creating and maintaining an appropriate climate so that children and young people in Rosia Montana will have better access to education. The 30 women from our Made In Rosia Montana Team, besides the extra income they earn from knitting every winter, also gain a sense of belonging to a social group. This is bringing lost friends back together who were separated due to the conflictual state brought upon the village by the mining company. One can see the community being reborn.

How is life in Rosia Montana now? What are the changes that you see happening?

It’s quiet now in the village. There is a noticeable amount of uncertainty, but even if the conflict with the company is still quietly brewing, it appears as though


many locals have turned to more sustainable ways of earning a living. For example, the number of tourists coming to Rosia Montana is continuously growing and as a result, more and more locals are starting to improve their accommodation offers and services. There are new initiatives and projects that help better the experience of one’s visit to Rosia Montana.

How do you see the place in 10 years? And where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I hope that in the next 10 years Rosia Montana will grow into a beautiful village, with many small entrepreneurs and alternatives for spending free time for youngsters and children. I hope that it will become a place where people can feel accomplished, where they feel they can grow, and also a place where tourists will keep coming to events here. I also hope that in 10 years, Rosia Montana will have all of its

houses restored to their former beauty, and it will become what it once was, a lively and prosperous community. As for myself, I see a future in “Spontaneous Roșia”, as I like to call it, with my small family, Larisa and Mira. I see myself continuously involved in resurrecting this village, but with more experience and motivation from my part, so as to be sure that if I moved all the way here I will have done everything I can to make the place a little better than it was when I found it.

foot or with a mountain bike. The Mining Museum with its Roman galleries is open and one can attend a variety of cultural events organised in the village, mostly during the summer. Although at first glance it may seem a forgotten and deserted place, there are still a lot of activities that happen or could happen here, as to give every tourist a fulfilling experience in Rosia Montana. •

Why should foreign tourists come to visit RM?

Rosia Montana is special because here, with every step you can “read” the story of a place that is so full of historical significance. Because it’s set in between the mountains, you can get to a mountaintop straight from the centre of our village and admire a beautiful view over the Apuseni Mountains. There are guided tours available, on

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Wishing you

Happy Holidays & a Happy New Year! from the OZB Team!

Castelul Lupilor (Wolves' Castle)


ocated in Hunedoara County, in Transylvania, very close to Deva, less than an hour’s drive from Alba Iulia, and a little over an hour away from Sibiu, Castelul Lupilor is an amazing location for a romantic winter stay. We recommend it if you want to experience the winter holidays in Transylvania. Themed rooms (of which we feature the Princess Room), a medieval feel and a great traditional restaurant, the Castle transports you to a different time. www.castelullupilor.ro Address: Chimindia, Nr. 83, 337268 Hunedoara, Romania Reservations at: 0372 826 110; 0724 241 063 or office@castelullupilor.ro


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Tank Beer Makes its Mark in Bucharest


ank beer is the latest addition to Romanian beer culture on the local market. When experiencing this type of beer, you can easily notice its unique characteristics, as tank beer is brought straight from the brewery through special containers and has a short life of only 14 days after opening the tank. Ursus Tank beer is a premium unpasteurized draught beer, recently introduced to the consumers. Its fresh taste comes mainly

from two major factors: the brewing age, which is very low, and keeping the beer constantly cold, from production to consumption, which is the best that can be done for a fresh tasting beer. Bucharest has been one of the first cities to embrace this new beer culture wave, home to a variety of locations that have beautified themselves with beer tanks. If you want to enjoy an Ursus Tank in Bucharest, we recommend visiting the following places:

Beert was born out of the idea of designing a place that portrays the concept of traditional draught locations with a more modern approach. Having tanks placed all around the venue provides the location with a specific mood that fits the picture perfectly. Address: Sf. Dumitru Street, No. 3, Bucharest, Romania

Draft Pub was designed as the friendly neighbor who always waits for you to enjoy a good laugh with friends and family, while drinking a cold fresh beer. Built in a warm and vibrant style, with a modern approach, it perfectly recreates the easy-going mood that you seek when living in the crowded urban life of Bucharest. Address: Soseaua Gheorghe Ionescu Sisesti 23-25, Bucharest Romania

Extra Time is that place you think of when you want to enjoy a good night out with friends, watch a sports game or meet new people. Located right in the heart of all the motion and chatter that represents the soul of the city’s old town, it has been the preferred choice for both local and foreign visitors. Address: Str. Lipscani 82A, Bucharest Romania •

Journey Pub is a place dedicated entirely to the charm of travelling. Here you will find the relaxed atmosphere of vacations at every step: from the design and decoration of the 4 lounges, to the suitcase-menus that contain the most interesting foods and drinks on other meridians. Address: Str. George Enescu 25, Bucharest Romania

Biutiful Downtown reinterprets the pub

culture in a contemporary note, mixing a modern style with traditional imprints, putting a light over elements with unique features, where everything is designed to come alive under your eyes. It involves a lifestyle, a vivid life, a modus vivendi. It is spectacular, bright, friendly and creates a great dependence through sound, taste and smell. Address: Splaiul Unirii 165, Bucharest Romania •

Hanu’ Berarilor Interbelic - Casa Oprea

Soare has preserved a piece of history under the neo-Romanian architectural style,that will surely make you want to come back and relive the experience. The connection between modern times and authentic origins is also portrayed perfectly

through the placement of beer tanks in the location. Address: Strada Poenaru Bordea 2, Bucuresti, Romania • Hanu’ Berarilor Becker Brau promises a memorable experience, whether it’s the time of day or night. Traditional dances and live music are just some of the surprises prepared especially for you, through thematic evenings dedicated to creating a complex and wholehearted experience for the people who step into the location. Address: Calea Rahovei 157, Bucharest, Romania The experience with tank beer is not related to exotic flavors, but to maximum freshness and clean aromas, free of environmental disturbing influences. Therefore, enjoy a fresh Ursus tank beer in one of Bucharest’s finest locations.

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Dreaming of a Green Eco Friendly Christmas


by Adriana Trocea

t’s that time of year again. Carols, cinnamon coffee, sparkling lights and Christmas markets, shopping sprees and Christmas trees. Are you getting a tree this year?

How the Christmas tree became the elephant in the room For years, family dinner conversations steered clear of politics, money and religion. More recently, the Christmas tree has made the list as well. During the holidays, the health of the Planet seems to rest on the branches of the Christmas tree. But is it so? 36

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Plastic trees are better. If you use them until your newborn goes to college Before labeling something as eco-friendly, you need to look at the entire production system. Why should we make an exception when it comes to Christmas trees? Of course, if we’re just thinking about cutting or not cuttina a tree, using a plastic one seems to be the most sustainable option. But most plastic trees are made from environmentally damaging petroleum chemicals and travel across the world, thus having a huge carbon footprint. Also, most people only reuse them 3 to 5 times, and studies

say plastic trees would need to be re-used for 20 years to to have a lower environment impact than a real tree.

12 years to grow tall enough for your living room Unlike their plastic counterparts, a cut down Christmas tree was purpose

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grown nearby in a plantation for up to 12 years, helped remove dust from the air, produced oxygen and absorbed carbon dioxide. It will then be replaced by another tree, and the cycle continues. These trees are sold in special aisles of markets or supermarkets, not from the back of a truck. Also, if the tree looks too thick for its size, it might be the tip of a bigger tree and you should not buy that. Cutting the tip of a big tree from the forest makes it vulnerable to disease and most likely to die. If you want a natural plant, there is also the option to buy potted trees, which can be planted afterwards. Careful though, the indoor temperature


is not suitable for a tree, for more than a couple of weeks. But most importantly, plastic or cut trees aren’t the only options. In this debate about who is right and who is wrong when it comes to Christmas trees, we tend to forget the many other options there are. Any other plant can play the part. You can creatively create your own out of other items: sticks, books, lights, etc. Whichever option you choose, don’t let it go to waste. Make sure you’re going to be around to enjoy the tree, don’t decorate one just because you must.

But is it all about the tree? Now that you’ve chosen your type of tree, there are some other details you should keep in mind, if you want an eco-friendly Christmas.

Whether you’re shopping for food, presents or decorations, buy local

Choose traditonal, certified products, made locally. Support local craftsmen and artists. A large amount of resources are consumed to import goods to each of our homes and offices. Bring eco-bags when

shopping for gifts. An estimated one trillion plastic bags are used worldwide each year and most end up in landfills. Also, think about wrapping. Printed paper wrappers comprise one of the largest Christmas wastes. Ditch

the typical gift wrap and pack your gifts in old gift bags, cloth bags, canvas bags, newspapers, magazines, and glass jars. If you want to skipp transport and wrapping alltogether, consider donating and supporting an NGO of your choice – with a monthly donation.

Lights and décor

Make your own decorations, spend more time with family and friends if you know your way around scizzors and paper. Let children create decorations using household items. If possible, use LED Christmas lights with timers. Energy-efficient LED (light-emitting diode) Christmas lights are up to 90% more efficient than regular tungsten bulbs.

Party without plastic and without food waste

mas? Think about your transport options. Personal mobility makes up 17% of humanity’s carbon footprint, according to the Global Footprint Network (GFN). Hosting this year’s Christmas party? Think ahead and plan your meals. This will help nature, because you won’t be adding to your carbon footprint through food waste. But most of all, you will not waste time, for extra food that would end up in the bin. According to the GFN, about one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption — 1.3 billion tonnes every year — gets lost or wasted. That’s equivalent to 9% of humanity’s Ecological Footprint. Also, whenever possible use reusable and washable party plates, cups, and utensils. •

Going home for Christ-

Christmas Gifts That Keep On Giving sustine.wwf.ro

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The Intersecting Wisdom of Eminescu and Borat by David Shoup


ihai Eminescu once wrote that “every nation and every age is standing on the shoulders of the past.” This has very much been the central theme of this month’s OZB edition. Our contributors from the University of Bucharest dissected the 1989 Revolution with historical accounts that largely confirmed the suspicions of many young people whom we spoke to for this issue. Acclaimed veteran journalist Alison Mutler and her colleague Dan Turturica at Universul shared their own memories of those uncertain and troubling days in December. Our editorial staff was also mindful about ensuring that our final issue of 2019 looked forward as well as backwards. You’ll see the President gracing our cover, and it’s the hope of millions of Romanians that Klaus Iohannis can use the renewed popular mandate of office to enact further progressive change for the nation. I am particularly pleased to see Human Catalyst in our magazine this month, an NGO that’s making big strides in lifting barriers that hold back marginalized communities in the countryside. Which brings me to the tale of finding Glod. I’m not talking about Doamne here. Glod means mud. And in keeping with our Eminescu quote of looking to the past combined with our vibe of springing 38

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forward, when an American friend came to visit Romania and our first night was spent diving into local documentaries, we found ourselves cringing over the 2008 film “When Borat Came to Town.” Despite the Sacha Baron Cohen comedy’s background setting being in Kazakhstan, it should surprise no one that filming on location given the film’s message was an impossibility, and so, with great irony, the deeply anti-semitic, Roma-hating fictional Kazakh journalist’s hometown introduction scene is actually filmed in a Roma village just outside Sinaia by way of a very precarious zigzaging road running through the southern Carpathians. I’ll assume many of our readers have indulged in Borat, but the documentary which highlights the great angst and humiliation felt by the people of Glod, and told through the story of one particularly sympatico family, is a deep dive into the main character Carmen’s very dreary coming-of-age story and well worth the watch. For my visiting friend, it was also worth a visit, and so I found myself behind the wheel of my recently acquired 2004 Matiz navigating the dark roads of Route 71. Disappointed, I was not. The main road in Glod has undergone significant improvement since the Borat days. The main bar featured in the documentary is still there, with a rough enough crowd of dudes outside that I dared not enter, instead hopping over to the convenience

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store where Carmen’s family worked. After grabbing an armful of delicious sweets, I was greeted at the counter by none other than Carmen’s mom. She wished me good luck on my drive to Sinaia, and it turned out I really needed it. Those winding roads at night sure are scary, but just like the Romanian language, even this dumb American can slowly wrap his head around driving stick shift. Happy 2020 Romania!

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