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Promoting rural culture and tradition - Issue no. 13, 2013

The Global Challenge to Involve Youth in

Traditional Dancing

Romanian Villages Traditions Interview Events


Issue no 13, 2013 4

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3 Editorial 4 Patrimony The Forgotten Fortress of Homorod

5 Rural Development

Homorod’s Animal Fairs Are Drawing the Big Crowds But does this mean good news for farmers and Romanian traditions?

6 Events Junii Brasovului 8 ‘Transhumanta 2013’ - Crystal of Great Nature and Culture 10 Art in the Village of Cata

12 Interview With Elman Schenkel – Recipient of the ‘Cata Writers Award 2012

13 People among Us The Unique Experience at the Sheepfold from Cata Village

14 Traditions The global challenge to involve youth in traditional dancing

16 Portrait of a Village Sinca Veche - “Eternity began at the countryside”

18 Traditional Medicine Professor Dr. Constantin Milică reveals himself and his remarcable work

20 Romanian Food ‘Sarmale’ (Cabbage Rolls) 'Şniţele de ciuperci' (Mushroom Schnitzels) 'Roşii umplute cu brânză' (Tomatoes Stuffed with Cheese) 'Ouă umplute' (Stuffed Eggs) 'Friptură de porc şi cartofi ţărăneşti' (Pork and Potatoes) 'Plăcintă cu brânză' (Cheese Pie)

Promoting rural culture and tradition

w w w. r e v i s t a - s a t u l . r o Manager: Ana A. Negru ana.negru@revista-satul.ro

Contributors: Johanna Engebjerg Englev (DK) Allison Jeffares (UK) Caroline Santamaria (FR) Tom Lynas (UK) Kazuki Shimada (JP)

Project Coordinator: Alexandra Ichim

Graphic design and DTP: Ana A. Negru Brianna Shawhan (USA)

Photos: Paul Lucas, Kazuki Shimada, Adrian Chiriac, Ana A. Negru, Catalin Buhnila, istockphoto, shutterstock

Cover: photo by Ana A. Negru

Director Projects Abroad: Mircea Samoila


Appreciating Culture by Johanna Engebjerg Englev

When I think back to two years ago, before my long journey began, it is difficult to believe that the person from my memories of that time is in fact the same sitting here, writing, today. I was tired of school, hated my village and was so ready to see the world. I did not care that I would not be home for the Danish Christmas and be missing out on duck, Christmas trees, rice porridge, presents, dancing and the many traditions that go with spending Christmas in Denmark. To me, these traditions meant very little and were nothing more than reminders of a country I was deeply bored with. I first set out for England. Spending two months there working in the English countryside, being far away, but still only an hour away from home, it still was not different enough for me. Sure the language was another, but that really was all. Next stop was Mexico and here I finally found what I was looking for. Something completely new and so different from anything I had ever known. First of all they spoke a language I first had to learn before I understood anything. Second of all, the people here were also something completely new. Some were great, some were not, but most of all: in a country struggling to move forward, even with a corrupt government and gangs raging the country, the people worked together in every aspect of their daily life. Then it was time to head east to meet Romania. And here I again ran into something completely new. A country so filled with stories, even 4 months here will not be enough to learn everything. Listening to these stories, watching the parade at the Junii Brasovului, The Days of Brasov, listening to the music in Rotbav Village and seeing the dancing students in the Square, who gladly showcase the dances of Romania: these are things I have never and will never see back home. In Denmark, a persistent tourist might be able to dig up a traditional dance or two, but he would have to look for a while before finding a person, who would actually know the steps and be willing to perform them as well. As I have learned more and more about Romanian history and culture, after having heard so many stories the people here have to tell, I have been confronted with my own perception of culture. And more specifically my own culture. When someone would ask me about Danish tradition, I realized that I in many cases had difficulties finding an appropriate answer. What was even more surprising to me was that I wanted to find out! Inspired by the Romanian people and their enthusiasm and connection to the old ways of life, I began to notice and to miss the small things that make me Danish, and before I knew it, I was telling stories of the Danish coastline, singing our songs and lecturing about Danish actors to everyone who wanted to listen. If there is anything Romania has taught me, it is that it’s okay to miss your home. And that sometimes it takes being far away to appreciate a culture well on its way to disappearing completely in our modernized world and therefore might not be there when you return. Romania is a changing country. Modern music and influence from the west is slowly suffocating the traditions that make Romania not just a country in Eastern Europe, but also a place filled with stories making up the identity of its people. The Village Magazine is our tribute to this cause. These stories have been told to us and now we would like to retell them to you, so that we together can learn about and appreciate what makes a country: its culture.

www.projects-abroad.org


The Forgotten Fortress of Homorod by Allison Jeares; photos: Ana A. Negru

H

omorod flies beneath the radar of most visitors on the tourist trail of fortified Saxon churches in southern Transylvania. Within the triangle between Brasov, Sighisoara and Sibiu are about 150 well preserved fortified Saxon churches from the 13th to the 15th century, out of an original 300.

The church at Homorod is structurally unique compared to others in the area. It is one of the rarest Romanic hall-churches as most Transylvanian Saxon churches were built as basilicas with a nave and two aisles. HavIng Been ReSToRed In 2000, the site is in a good condition and there are plans to open a museum in the courtyard, so perhaps Homorod will soon find its way into the guidebooks. The only deterrent for visitors might be the slight danger element to climbing the tower. Inside the block structure is a wide expanse with wooden ladders to navigate. Just try to avoid looking down at the huge drops! at the bottom of the tower are the ruins of the original Catholic church where you can see beautiful frescoes. a later church is attached, which is rarely used nowadays. Just once a month a service is held and earlier this year it was host to a Saxon celebration.

By climbing the tower in the fortified church you can obtain a good view of the commune and the surrounding farmland and forest. Although the fortress is not generally open to visitors, you can find the key at the town hall next door.

aRound THe TWo CHuRCHeS IS a fortification wall which houses storage rooms for food and has secret doors and long slits for arrows to be shot out of for defense. The idea was that if the town came under attack, the cattle would be sent into the forest and the residents would run inside the walls of the fortress. Since they never knew when an attack was to occur, meat was constantly stored within the walls and twice a week the people of Homorod would come to cut off slices to eat at home. according to the caretaker’s mother-inlaw who showed us around the fortress, the town was never laid siege to.

aS THe Tale goeS, THeRe WaS a young girl who had a talent for playing the organ and often played inside the church. The ottomans were planning a battle, but after one officer heard the music he fell in love with the girl. never mind that he was 50 and she only 15! It was a happy ever after ending, as the ottoman officer called off the battle, took the girl and her family to Bucharest and gave them all cushy jobs as teachers. The old woman then took us around the walls and explained that the school buildings opposite were built in the 1800s. WHen We Had enTeRed THe fortress the children, aged about 10 to 13 years old, were playing outside, showing off and acting very curious about us. They were asking if we spoke english and then pushing each other, giggling. While we were walking around the fortress they snuck in through the open gate and ran up the tower. When we came around the corner and discovered them, the old woman started yelling at them to get out and they all came running down. They were complaining that they wanted to see the church, that they’d never been inside before. She told them if they want to visit, they need to get their teacher to bring them, that they cannot come in by themselves. The children explained that they had been asking their teacher, but he was not interested in bringing them. IT WaS dISappoInTIng THaT THe children were not able to learn about the fascinating history of their own town, especially as they were so keen to find out. In most places it is a huge challenge to engage students in history and culture, and here they are burning with curiousity, clamouring to get into the fortress, yet they are being denied the chance. But even if they are not able to visit the fortress yet, at least the desire to know about their local history is alive, and when the museum opens they will hopefully have the opportunity to see it with their own eyes, as will the tourists who currently overlook the charms of Homorod.

Homorod is a true slice of Romania, with simple houses, farms and dirt roads. Interestingly, upon the outskirts lie some remnants from communist times: old collective farms where the residents of Homorod would have been made to take their animals. Everyone would have worked on the collective farm and received equal shares in the food and produce regardless of the amount of animals they contributed to the farm. 4 PATRIMONY

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unfortunately for david, because there are so many people selling horses, he figures his chances of offloading his horse by the end of the day are slim. “Today the sale statistics are very low because there was a big heat during the summer so people don’t have products to feed their animals. That’s why they want to sell, but there have been few people interested in buying,” says david.

Homorod’s Animal Fairs

Are Drawing

the Big Crowds,

It also turns out many of

But does this mean gOOD NEws for farmers and Romanian traditions?

the

people attending the event are not at all interested in buying or selling animals. Increasingly people are coming to the animal fairs just to have a look around and perhaps buy something from one of the many stalls selling food or commercial products.

Text: Allison Jeffares; Photos: Paul Lucas, Ana A. Negru

Although some farm products, such as horse bridles, were being sold, most of what was for sale was not traditional to the fair or to Romania.

C

ars were parked all along the dirt road leading to Homorod’s traditional animal fair, held three times a year in spring, summer and autumn. amongst the traffic jam trying to get closer to the autumn fair were a mixture of cars and horses and carts, some with children loaded into the back. The event was clearly drawing in the crowds from all around the commune of Homorod - Brasov county.

“15 or 20 years ago there wasn’t any food for sale or the commercial aspect to the fair. We brought our own food from home in our sacks,” says david with an air of nostalgia, although he does not seem particularly upset that things have changed.

Animal fairs are traditionally held for the buying and selling of livestock and animal products. one attendee hoping to sell his horse is david nicolae from the nearby village of Cata.

Perhaps the commercialisation

Photo: Paul Lucas

Photo: Ana A. Negru

can be seen as a positive development. although the attendance of villagers uninterested in trading animals has lessened the traditional feel of the fair, it has also given a more festive feel to the event. It has not detracted from the original intention of the fair, as the main purpose is still the trading of animals.

david feels the fairs are very important to the community as they give people the chance to sell their animals, which they would not have the opportunity to do otherwise. He says the fairs are important to keeping Romanian traditions alive: “I am 53 years old and the fairs have been occurring as long as I can remember.” In the past the majority of animals for sale were cows, sheep and goats. Though these animals could be seen at the fair, they were the minority. There were also pigs, with people carrying off squealing piglets in sacks, or carting large ones in wagons. But by far, the most popular animals for sale at the fair on this day were horses. - issue no 13, 2013

By attracting crowds, traditional animal fairs are being kept in the public eye and therefore in the national conscience.

RURAL DEVELOPMENT 5


J

UNII BRAşOVULUI A week worth of celebrations of the Young Men of Braşov

In the week following the orthodox Easter, the Young Men of Braşov or The Junii celebrate the Dacian new-year and the coming of spring. For a week, the city is packed with happy Braşovians, music, markets, parades and members of The Junii performing their traditional rituals. Everything culminates in the big parade on Sunday. One of the rituals taking place during the week is the initiation of the youngest men into the first group of The Junii.

Text: Johanna Engebjerg Englev; Photos: Johanna Engebjerg Englev; Ana A. Negru

Aruncatul Junilor În Ţol on Thursday, or Bright Thursday, as this day is called, a smaller ritual took place on piaţa unirii in the Scheii quarter of town. Here I saw the youngest men of The Junii, or soon to become, be initiated into the first group: Junii Tineri (The young unmarried men of The Junii). aruncatul Junilor În Ţol roughly translated to english means something close to „The throwing of youngsters in a carpet”. Which is exactly what happened. The youngest members of the Junii arrived at the square in their traditional wear, specific for their group. now while the older groups of the Junii, wears very extravagant costumes with many different and perky colors, these young men however, wore simple black trousers and a simple black jacket. under their knee long trousers, they wore white leggings and the only color standing out was the little red flower in their breast pocket. The first order of the day was, of course, a small prayer around the nearby standing alter. Here they gathered around in a circle and sang and danced. Just a stepping to each side in a rhythm, sort of thing) and said their prayers before moving on to the center of the square. and here the initiation began. ThREE RITUALS TAKE PLACE when the young men are initiated. a dance and a throwing of a scepter, another dance where 6 EVENTs

the young men invite the young women in the crowed to participate and in the end the throwing of each member in a carpet. The first ritual is probably the most difficult one to follow but also the simplest one. all the members gather in a half circle and here they start dancing a sort of dance. The same series of steps performed around the alter; only this time the circle keeps moving around, which means that the audience has to keep up and follow them around as well. While they are dancing, each member takes turns throwing a scepter up in the air. This Scepter is colored in the Romanian colors: Blue, Yellow and Red. In addition, three members of the youngsters wear a banner, colored in one of these colors, representing the flag of Romania. The Scepter is thrown up in the air by each of the members and the higher the better! However, they also have to catch it again. after each member has had their turn, the audience is invited to try. For a small tip (which can be placed in a small bucket in the middle of the square), every viewer can try throwing the scepter. The next ritual, the dance, happens with only some of the members, as the circle they now create is smaller and whole. The youngsters again break out in a dance

and this time young women in the audience are invited to join in. The remaining youngsters, who are not dancing, walk around the audience inviting women to join. The last ritual is the one involving the carpet. Here all the members and as well strong men from the audience gather around the edges of a huge carpet (beautifully decorated in traditional colors of course) and a member of the youngsters lays down in the middle. after a count to three, the men together throw the young boy up into the air, sometimes quite high, and then catches him again. The higher he is thrown and the more dangerous the trick he makes while in the air, the better the show is. originally, this ritual was performed indoors. Here the point was to throw the boys high enough that he could reach the celling of the building with his fingers. all these rituals took place on a sunny Thursday evening in the week after easter. everything backed by cheery traditional music consisting of a violin, a small guitar and a flute. everywhere around me happy Romanians took hundreds of pictures, chatted and danced along with the boys, who now officially are a part of the first group of the Junii; Junii Tineri (The young unmarried men of The Junii).

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The Junii Junii Brasovuluii, the feast or festival of Braşov, takes place every year the week after easter and culminates in a big parade and a party on Sunday. These celebrations are unique throughout europe. everywhere you go this week, you will stumble across either on a ritual (maybe in the manner of a dance or a song) or fair (like the flower fair on the square), or just a happy citizen taking the opportunity to promote a charity or business causes. If you walk down the main pedestrian street in Braşov during this week, you will most likely also run into a parade or a show that advertises another smaller festival, like for example the medieval festival at the Citadel. ThE JUNII, or, roughly translated to english: “The young men of Braşov” are the descendants of the old, real Romanians that lived outside the gate of Kronstadt (as the old city center was once called, when germans inhabited these parts) in the Scheiiquarter of the city. every celebration, every ritual, every song and every dance is performed by a man (or men), whose ancestors walked among the original Romanian neighborhood outside Kronstadt’s main gate: St. Catherin’s gate. on the Sunday after easter, almost the full population of the City gathers to see the parade that marks the end of a week full of celebrations. The Junii celebrates, on this day, the dacian new-year and the beginning of spring. ThE PARADE involves horses dressed in all kinds of colors (traditional colors of course), matching the rider and his role in the parade, each outfit marking the group to which he - issue no 13, 2013

belongs, each group dressing more spectacular than the other. From the young unmarried men, Junii Tineri who wear their simple black jacket with a red flower in the breast pocket to the sparkling older groups, which all wear impressive gowns of countless colors and fabrics.

Other Rituals Through the week many other rituals take place. not many women are included in these, but one in particular centers on the women of the community. on Monday, the members of the Junii approache the women, whom give them red dyed eggs. after each member of the Junii has received his egg, the men spray women with perfume. ANoThER RITUAL that sometimes takes place on the Bright Thursday is "Îngroparea vătafului". This ritual has been preserved from the tribes of the dacians, more than 2,000 years ago. The tradition involves tying the leader of the Junii onto a ladder and then carrying him around while a priest gives the funeral rituals. In order for the leader to be let down, he has to promise a large quantity of wine to the group. Sadly, I did not get to see this ritual the Thursday I went.

The groups of the Junii There are seven groups of the Junii because, according to Christianity, the world was created through seven days. The groups however have nothing to do with each day of the week.

Junii Tineri: The Younger unmarried Men Junii Batrani: The Younger Married Men Junii Curcani: The Turkey Youth (This group’s flag holds the countenance of Mihai viteazu, the first king who united the three Romanian.) Junii Dorobanti: nation of Soldiers (This group defended The Citadel from the Turks various times.) Junii Brasovecheni: The elder men of Braşov Junii Rosiori: The Red Men of Braşov Junii Albiori: The White Men of Braşov Junii gălbiori: The Yellow Men of Braşov

The Junii and the days of Braşov are a perfect example of the culture that still blossom in a thriving and modern city like Braşov. The fact that so many people show up to watch and support both the parade on Sunday and the initiation on Bright Thursday, only shows how important the old traditions and history are to the common Braşovian. EVENTs 7


TrAnsHumAnTA 2013 Pearls of Nature and Culture Text and photos: Kazuki Shimada

Photo: ‘Transhumanta’ Association - Romania

Imagine a scene with no high buildings, a wide sight, a green hill, a calm lake and mountains looking down on you. The event called Trashumanta was held in that place and every year starts in Rotvab, Brasov County. This is a project of traditional movement of the professional shepherds with 300 sheep through the Carpathians, which is organised to celebrate historical transhumance of the vlach shepherds, which in the past led to the settlement of the mountain area and the creation of a common pastoral culture in the Carpathians. The shepherds cross 1400 km of mountain areas through: Romania - ukraine - poland - Slovakia - Czech Republic, from 11th of May to 14th of September.

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sun and the blue sky. Then, I noticed a girl wearing traditional clothes distributing cheese. She was adorable, she made all visitors smile. Her family was selling various cheese types in the stand. according to them, the tradition of making cheese from sheep’s milk was kept intact for hundreds of years.

hen I arrived, soft music welcomed me. The place was filled with sheep and shepherds. Somebody was putting on a Romanian traditional costume. at the same time, the smell of grilled meat combined with fresh air tickled my nose. The sheep were gathered together in an enclosure and their voices became a part of the music. The view from top of the hill caught my eyes: a green and blue world spread out in front of my eyes.

By the stand, a man was cooking 'polenta' (mămăligă - corn meal) with cheese and many visitors drawn by that good smell came to the stand.

at that time, the opening ceremony just started. a presenter declared the opening of the festival and the audience clapped in delight. after the opening ceremony, various performances were shown: mainly people playing traditional musical instruments, singing and dancing on traditional music. visitors were having a good time hearing beautiful music while enjoying a pleasant cool breeze under the

also, in another stand, I saw an interesting man. He was putting on a shepherd’s costume and a big cloak made from sheep's fur. His name is Muresanu. He is promoting Romanian food and culture to visitors. He is part of a nonprofit association from Romania, called Slow Food Convivium Brasov, member of Slow Food International network. They organize local events and markets to show quality

8 EVENTs

products and help quality food producers connect. Through their actions they promote healthy eating, starting from the principles promoted by the International Slow food movement. I asked the visitors their impressions about this type of events. a man said, “These events are beneficial for the community because they can see the traditions in detail. And I love the traditional culture." The man told me he was really enjoying the event. people from other countries participated at the event and they seemed to enjoy it and the Romanian traditions as much as the locals. Surrounded by nature and watching people enjoying the culture and traditions, fascinated me. Fascination is, in a word, what "Transhumanta 2013" meant for me. www.revista-satul.ro


- issue no 13, 2013

EVENTs 9


Art in the Village of Cata Text: Johanna Engebjerg Englev and Kazuki Shimada Photos: Kazuki Shimada, Adrian Chiriac, Ana A. Negru

When we first hit the road to get to the village of Cata, we had absolutely no idea what to expect. We were going to a small village about an hour away from Braşov. After a drive through the mountains, up and down, we started hitting the smaller cities, places that I had not, until then, ever seen before. These sides of Romania created a very beautiful picture of the national countryside. Just driving on the small roads, that sometimes turned to gravel, we saw several of small carets and wagons with horses ready to go. In a few places, a small amount of people had set up shops on the side of the road, ready to sell lemonade and water to the passing travelers. After having driven around for a while, we asked another roadside woman and her friend for directions, and they sent us down a gravely path, that maybe once had been a road. Here, I was certain that we could not get further out in the country. Surely, this was the last village way out here and Cata would be just around the corner. However, it did take us another 20 minutes through gorgeous plains, framed by the vast Transylvanian mountains. The afternoon sun only made the view even better, lighting up the forest to our right and the fields, cows and horses to our left.

10 EVENTs

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e arrived in Cata at around 5 o’clock. By then many guest had already arrived at Mr. Schuler’s house. Here, we would attend an event he had put together, with guests from germany, Romania and luxemburg. This event was created to celebrate Mr. Israel’s Writers award, prize that would enable him to write about the Transylvanian culture and its people.

The first thing that greeted us when exiting the car, next to a small playground in the tiny village centre, was a group of children playing football and other fun specific outdoor games. The moment we stepped out of the car, they were instantly at the fence looking at us and greeting us curiously, in Romanian. Most of them quickly lost interest when they realized they could not communicate with us, but one boy stayed and asked further questions. after this warm greeting, we went inside to meet the rest of the guests, where we were encouraged by the host of the weekend, Mr. Schuler, to go meet the people. and the setting could not be more perfect. Here in Mr. Schuler’s back yard, we saw not only beautiful fruit trees, but also giant posters, in man-size, hanging on the trees and on the walls. on these posters there were poems written both in german and Romanian. also on the walls there were pictures taken by Mr. Schuler’s son. all around, sitting down on the grass, on the old antique benches and on the patio furniture provided by the host, there were different artists, enjoying the sun and each other’s company. They were sharing their books, their poems, their music and their ideas for future projects, framed by the old buildings, workshops, lanes, cottages and Mr. Schuler’s own private tower, from where you could see almost the entire village.

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The first person I spoke to was Jörg Schäffer from Munich. He first met Mr. Schuler back in germany, through mutual friends and he told me about how he started out as a musician. Being a chemical scientist, he woke one day and asked himself: “I wonder what the o2 – atom sounds like?” after calculating his way to a frequency that the human ear can actually hear, he did find the answer. and this specific tune is what set the scene for his future music. The afternoon and evening quickly passed, with more conversations on the grass and refreshments served by Mr. Schuler’s family.

pictures for and from her children and nowhere. absolutely nowhere could we see a computer, or any sort of modern piece of the common current world that we would expect to see in any home. The only thing that she had was a Tv in the middle of the living room. That was the place where we spent the night over, looking towards the upcoming interesting day. In the morning, the neighbor stopped by for a chat, just as we were sitting outside in that same scary courtyard from the night before, drinking coffee and waiting for the rest of the crew to get ready.

dinner was held in the small barn in the corner of the yard, where various speeches were held and more people where introduced. Till midnight you could hear the german and Romanian mixed chatter go on as people got to know each other, and talked about the following day, where they would all perform some sort of artistic show.

after the short walk, back through the village, to Mr. Schuler’s house the festivities started with a few speeches by Mr. Schuler himself, last year’s recipient of the days writers award elman Schenkel, and this year’s recipient Mr. Israel.

after dinner, we walked through the village, which had now gone very dark, towards the house were we would stay for the night. Walking there on the gravel road, with absolutely no people in sight it was easy for our brains to picture an attack, right there on the road, next to an old abandoned factory, where absolutely no one would hear you or see you. no attackers showed up though and we made it easily to the local bar. now, this was not just a regular local bar downtown that everyone goes to, this was really THe local bar. You had to know it was there. To go inside, we had to walk through a gate into the private backyard of the family who owned this bar. Right in front of us, there were some chickens wondering around an old rusty car, situated in front of their small, almost falling apart, barn in the back. In the dark, this could seem like a quite scary place. However, to the right we saw the lights and heard the laughter from the small bar, a place that opened when the locals arrived and closed when they were tossed off to bed. The lady of the house was a proper barkeeper. very kind and welcoming, strict and selective with the clients who walked in her venue, she immediately invited us on the upper floor of her traditional village house. Inside the small kitchen, the walls where decorated with kitchen appliances I have only seen in old danish movies from the 50ies. Her house was decorated with teddies and

- issue no 13, 2013

after this, a number of readings where done by different colleges and friends of Mr. Schuler, and again the setting, the sunlit country backyard, filled with writers, musicians and actors, could not be more perfect; the writers in shift read pieces from their newest books.

He was handed the cat, which was his trophy, and then there followed more speeches.

all the guests were sitting in the grass, next to the reader and were listening intensively to every word about the writer’s thoughts on culture, people and travels in Romania. The afternoon went on like this. later on one of the guests took out his guitar and soon we were all singing along to his well-known cover songs. apparently this man from germany had his own band back home.

after this and a short break where journalists, apart from ourselves had the chance to speak to all of the guests, it was time for the next part of the agenda: a pantomime performed, right there on the grass. Two men dressed and painted completely in white were moving in short burst, very gracefully over the grass, as a tribute to Mr. Israel.

Indeed this day was spent in the spirit of art and music and I cannot think of a bettersuited place to host this event, centering on the discovery of Transylvanian culture, than the village of Cata. EVENTs 11


„It’s quite an experience for us Westerners, who are used to having that sense of personal space that doesn’t always exist out here in the Transylvanian countryside.” Interview with Elman schenkel – Recipient of the ‘Cața writers Award 2012’ Text: Johanna Engebjerg Englev Photo: Kazuki Shimada

For a whole year, Mr. Elman Schenkel has lived on and off in Caţa Village on the grounds of Mr. Schuler. Last year, he received Mr. Schuler’s Caţa Award, which included a very special task. For a year, he has been learning about and observing Romanian and Transylvanian culture and nature in and around the Village of Caţa. Now, he is ready to finish his year in Romania, and forward this task and price, to the next writer. - Where are you from originally? germany. I teach at the university. and you have lived here in Caţa for an entire year? Well not all the time, no. on and off. I have been teaching at the university, back in germany and been in Caţa for longer and shorter periods at a time. - And everything has been paid for? Yes. I often ate with Mr. Schuler and his family and was actually also given a horse! - Wow! Do you ride then? I do not really like to. a Rroma from the village went with me and walked alongside the horse, making sure I would not fall off, which was tricky, so I gave up that experience. - And after this year, living here on and off, did you have to write a book? Well everyone expected some kind of result. I started doing some articles while I was here and now I am trying to put everything together to a final result - one book. Maybe it will be documentary, maybe it will be fictional, I do not know yet. This place has such a fantastic atmosphere. - So what has been the biggest challenge during this entire year? The biggest challenge has been the extreme weather changes; it was very cold in the winter, so I had to move into the main house. above that, I had to move back to germany from december to February, because of the extreme cold weather. However, the days of solitude were definitely a challenge and something different then what I am used to. also, getting in touch with the community and the Rroma people was a bit challenging. - Did you manage to learn a bit of Romanian? Just a few things, but basically I spoke Italian with them, as it is very close to Romanian. nevertheless, I am still trying to learn more words. I would like to read some Romanian authors, like eliade (Mircea eliade, Romanian writer, 1907–1986). He was a philosopher and historian, but also a novelist. - So are you satisfied with your work here, the overall process? 12 INTERVIEw

Yes. I mean, of course it is imperfect. I could not do everything I wanted and play out all my expectations. - How did you get along with the Romanians and the Rroma community? Well, it was okay, and of course, very different. Sometimes they were nice and sometimes they wanted something from me in return. all in all, I did not have any bad experiences. The first time I went out of the gate I tumbled and fell into a water hole and a Rroma came to help me. She even brushed of my clothes for me, which would never happen in germany. It is quite an experience for us Westerners, who are used to having that sense of personal space that doesn’t always exist out here in the Transylvanian countryside. - Did you ever have problems with the locals? Well, as a foreigner you always have to be careful. once, I was playing around with the local kids and they followed us to a cemetery we had to visit, and we gave them sweets; afterwards,I realized that we could not keep doing that. Therefore, we gave them a task instead; we gave them something to do. I send them a quiz on mathematical questions, but sometimes they did not agree on the answers and they stared to argue and then followed us around. So, I had to get used to that and I had to handle it somehow. - And did you get used to it? Yes in the end you don’t take it too seriously. - What about your family at home, what do they think about this whole experience? My wife is here and likes the scenery very much. - Are you working on anything else right now? Yes. I am working on a book about science and literature, about an episode in the history of science where science meets literature; and I am also working on a book of essays. - When do you think the book you have been preparing for this last year will be ready to be published? Maybe next year, there is a lot of texts in prose that need to be dealt with the editors and publishers. - Will Mr. Schuler be the one to publish this book? Well he is in touch with editors, but I am not sure that will work out. I have my own publisher though that I might try to talk with. - So when you are finished here you are going back to Germany for good? Yes but I would like to come back and visit. www.revista-satul.ro


THE UNIqUE ExPERIENCE AT A s HEEPFOLD FROM C ATA V ILLAgE

here is this sheep farm outside the village of Cata, up on the hills, which we visited during the event created to celebrate Mr. Israel’s Writers Award ( 18th - 21st May 2013). The wide grassy plains spread out before my eyes, and there is a pleasant cool breeze blowing. It smells of fresh green grass.

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Photoreport by: Kazuki Shimada

When we arrived, it was the sheep’ milking time.

Mr. Munteanu treated us with two kind of cheese. one is salty and solid, anther one is milky and soft. Also, he gave us hot polenta. The fresh cheese and the hot 'mamaliga' made from corn were a great combination.

over 2000 sheep are raised here and the owner is Mr. Munteanu. A lot of cheese is made at the sheephold. I could see the shepherds making it. A man showed us the steps. First, he poured milk into a tub and heated it at 70 Celsius degrees. Then he put a special clot for obtaining the cheese lumps. Next, he mixed it for 10 minutes. After that, he strained the milk and many white lumps were made. he carried the cheese to a stand, and he mashed it and mixed it a few times. Lastly, he squeezed all the liquids. The cheese is considered completed a day after, when it’s properly dried.

- issue no 13, 2013

PEOPLE AMONg Us 13


The Global Challenge To I nVolVE

YouTh

In

TRadITIonal dancIng

Text: Allison Jeffares; Photos: Catalin Buhnila

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raditional dancing in Romania is in dire need of young blood. as the western lifestyle digs its claws deeper into cultures all over the world we see young people being brought up without a connection to their heritage and ancestors.

The problem of vanishing traditions is not unique to Romania; it is a worldwide issue. upon hearing about how traditional dancing is losing its significance amongst 14 TRADITIONs

Romanian youth I was reminded of the situation back home in australia with aboriginal song and dance traditions disappearing. It is estimated that 98 per cent of aboriginal song traditions have been lost since colonisation. Those that remain are mostly known by the elders and when they are gone the songs will be lost with them. This is echoed in Romania with fewer and fewer people, especially young people in the cities, being interested in traditional dancing.

Instructor of the traditional dancing ensemble Junii Brasovului, Bogdan Cherciu, says that at 23 years old he is one of few young people wanting to keep the customs alive. “Nowadays all the traditional dance instructors are old. Out of all the student cultural houses in Romania it’s only me and one other instructor, from Targu Mures, who are young”, he says. Bogdan sees ensembles as being very important in preserving dance traditions. Junii Brasovului, although based in Brasov, www.revista-satul.ro


performs dances from many regions all over Romania. In australia one of the most well known ensembles is the “Bangarra Dance Theatre” which blends traditional aboriginal dancing with contemporary dance.

george Micu, 24, was forced by his uncle to join Junii Brasovului, but he soon discovered he was in the right place and came to enjoy traditional dancing. “I forced some of my friends to come but they didn’t like it,” he says. “They are used to a normal life and have lost their connection (to their heritage).”

Traditional dancing can have many positive benefits for young people, but getting them involved is a greater challenge. The greatest benefit of all: it reconnects people to the land In australia there have been a number of and to their cultural heritage government initiatives to improve social conditions for the aboriginal population through involvement in traditional dance. Through dance, troubled youth are able to reconnect with their aboriginal identity which promotes respect for themselves and others. To improve her social life Bogdan’s sister Madalina Cherciu, now 20, became involved in Junii Brasovului at the age of 14. “I was curious,” says Madalina. “First my brother came and I saw that he made a lot of new friends, that he went out a lot and had more opportunities so this is why I wanted to join.” She adds that a lot of people who join Junii Brasovului have fallen in love, gotten married and had children with other members of the group. although Madalina needed no persuading to join, getting boys and young men involved in traditional dancing is a greater challenge.

- issue no 13, 2013

living in the city, it is easy for both young Romanians and Indigenous australians to lose their connection to the way their ancestors lived and the land they loved. aboriginal dances are performed for the dual purpose of entertainment and to show love for family and kin. Many songs also speak of a connection with the land. This is similar to the purpose of Romanian dancing which is to celebrate and show a love of nature. Symbols showing this connection with nature are depicted on traditional Romanian costumes worn in dance. “A costume has an entire story on it,” says geroge. “The Lapus costume starts with blue on the bottom to symbolise the water. The belt is brown like the earth and on the vest there is a cosmic tree. It’s full of birds and flowers. It symbolises life.”

It is still possible to see people performing traditional dances in the villages, but for the growing population who live in cities, away from nature, ensembles are vital to provide this connection to the land and to their heritage.

George and Madalina’s Favourite Dance: Valea someşului. - Why do you like it? Some say it’s the hardest dance but it’s also the most spectacular! - What are the most difficult steps? Madalina: “When I taught the dance to some girls, I came to the conclusion that the most difficult part to learn was the pirouettes.” george: “For the boys there is a lot of acrobatics and you need to coordinate between the steps, claps and jumps.” - Do you improvise at all? We don’t improvise the steps but we add our own style. It has a 1-2-3 pattern, but we go out of the pattern a lot. - What are the costumes like? The costumes are very happy! For the dance Fagaras the colours are dark but in valea Somesului they are pink and red. - What instruments are played? violin, saxophone, bass and accordion.

TRADITIONs 15


Text: Caroline Santamaria Photos: Adrian Chiriac

şINCA VECHE Eternity began at the countryside

o

n this white morning of december, our red little car is heading northWest to Sinca veche (“the old Sinca”), a village located at 50 kilometers away from Brasov. Winter tires are mandatory today, especially to cross the snowy train tracks, or later on, to leave the main road and engage on the trail for the last few kilometers towards the monastery. along the way, we are passing a couple of long cooperatives, residues from the communist period. Still standing, they are mainly abandoned when not reconverted into sheepfolds. They reveal how nature treats man’s constructions when these are not maintained. What would have subsisted of a centuries old monastery if it had been left over to nature? This is the purpose of our journey today, visiting the famous ‘Cave of Sinca Veche’, splendidly rehabilitated through the last years by a Romanian Cultural orthodox ngo.

The unclear origin of the cave The generally accepted version is that the monastery was set-up around 1742, when the orthodox churches were destroyed by the austrian-Hungarians, enforcing the Romano-Catholic Church or the greekCatholic Church. However, Sinca veche appears in documents from the early 12th century. other assumptions suspect this sanctuary to be older than 7000 years, being founded by the dacians. a controversy is fed by the presence of two altars inside the church, which is not common in the orthodox faith and seems to indicate that the monastery does not have a Christian origin. Meaning of insignia on walls as well as the architecture also gives rise to diverging theories. Together with the village of Sinca noua (“the new Sinca”), Sinca veche has been an important bastion of resistance during communism.

The grotto is well hidden in the middle of the wood and in the heart of a block of grit stone. We are penetrating in its womb. a ten meter high carved chimney stands above our heads allowing the sunlight illuminate the entire place. Invisible from the outside, this inner tower, with spiral like shape is said to let positive energy flow into the church. Its structure offers a connection between the sky and the earth, between the spiritual and the material worlds, which creates a vortex of energy inside the so-called “Temple of the Fates”.

It is considered by some as a holy place with miraculous powers. across the years some visitors have been coming here to get healed and have their good wishes fulfilled. We indeed notice some folded papers inserted into a rock slot, likely to contain some prayers. In the past some Christians were also leaving icons, clothes, water or food inside this cave. They believed that these would gather part of the tremendous power lying beneath the stone. When collecting their items back, they were hoping to transfer a small part of the “earth soul” to their homes and in their lives.

A mystical experience inside the ‘Temple of the Fates’ In the early afternoon, we start our journey from a tall concrete cross, at the foot of the hill in which the cave has been built. Following a wooden fence we are walking up to the entrance of the cave.

8 PORTRAIT OF A VILLAgE 16

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Silence is respectfully observed, which enforces a feeling of stillness and contemplation. Couple of wooden beams are consolidating some of the walls probably too much under pressure. This is part of the work that Maria Bagiu, and her orthodox cultural foundation called "Holy Mother - unexpected Joy", created in 2004, carried out to ensure the conservation of this place. When she discovered the cave it was drowned into the vegetation, with snakes as only owners. over time some rooms had collapsed due to natural pressure or infiltrations but also during search of hypothetical treasures. lately tourists vandalized the place by scratching walls or leaving garbage behind. Maria Bagiu managed to draw local attention, establishing partnerships in which Sinca veche Hall leased the land considered as sacred, while Brasov County Council rebuilt the road from the village to the cave church. a geotechnical and geophysical survey of the site could be established in 2005, allowing envisioning technical solutions to strengthen the structure and preserve it over time. The site is now classified as monument of national interest and has been transformed to welcome visitors.

The Saint's Nectarie monastery complex We are getting out of the cave, back to the light after this mystical experience and pursuing our walk. passing by some huge monoliths, whose origins are uncertain, adds even more mystery to the place. Further up, we are reaching a monastery complex, which celebrates its patron Saint's nectarie, the Wonderworker. The door of the chapel is open for prayer. a nun who stands at the entrance is displaying quality crafted items on a table, such as candles which can be burnt with thoughts to the leaving or dead beloved. a service is about to start in the small chapel, whose walls are colorfully ornamented with paintings and relics. outside a reservoir stores the holly water drunk by the nuns. a wooden board called ‘toaca’ is used in the morning to knock some rhythms accompanying prayers.

“Eternity began at the countryside” as we are walking back, Toparceanu’s words are resonating in our mind, emphasizing the message that the countryside is carrying the simplicity and essence of life through time. It is thanks to the ngo "Holy Mother unexpected Joy" that spots holding a strong historical and cultural message, like Sinca veche’s monastery, are still standing. visitors can realize here what ancestors have accomplished, and what their beliefs, fears or hopes may have been.

on such “stones” left behind, a whole civilization continued building up and is still alive today. Realizing this continuity through the ages, stresses the necessity to maintain those memory places in shape. While we are leaving with a deep feeling of peace and calmness, more visitors are arriving. It is also the success of this ngo to have revealed this remote site to the public, and promoted it in a way that it attracts walkers even in the winter, during a week day.

This living monastery emphasizes that religion is still actively breathing in this ancestral sacred spot.

- issue no 13, 2013

PORTRAIT OF A VILLAgE 17


Professor Dr. Constantin milică reveals himself and his remarcable work

TRadITIonal MEdIcInE Text: Tom Lynas Photos: www.farmacia-verde.ro, shutterstock

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onstantin Milică is a Professor of Phytotherapy (the study of natural medicines) at the Universitatu Agronomice in Iaşi. On the 25th March I interviewed him, hoping to discover a bit more about his life and work. Despite some interesting translation complications, his responses revealed the profile of a fascinating person.

Following his passion

Forty years ago, Constantin Milică was a teacher of physiology and biochemistry in Bucharest. In his spare time he collected stamps and was something of an expert. However, on moving to Iaşi he found the city to have much less of a stampcollecting culture, so he switched his focus to his other great love – plants. The rest is almost history. at first, professor Milică continued in his role as a science teacher, but when he wasn’t in the classroom, he found himself applying to a number of international institutions for the funds to research traditional medicines. He recalls contacting over 150 bodies in 50 different countries, but eventually ended up collaborating with the World Bank. With their medical funding he was able to travel the world collecting flower specimens, and devote all his energies to writing papers on his findings.

homeopaths had great respect for ancient greek physicians like Hippocrates, and considered the discoveries made thousands of years ago were still relevant to the practice today. at the same time he acknowledged that a few close colleagues had had a direct impact on his studies. He spoke of dr. aristide lazar, a close friend of his from Bucharest who is heavily involved with research into Romanian medical plants, as well as Craciun Florentin and lazurca dumitru who both work for the BioMedicinal company plafar.

These people he remarked, inspired him to start his work, and constantly encourage him to continue with it. He believes one of the most significant recent developments in his field is the attempts by natural medicine experts to address significant public health problems, notably cancers, smoking addiction and alcoholism. Successful research in this area would seriously enhance homeopathy’s credibility as a modern science. professor Milică pointed out that his colleagues had made serious headway: a solution known as ‘Complex 20’ has been used to treat breast cancer, and ‘Complex 16’ has been successful in combating liver diseases. He himself is working intensively on a natural treatment for those addicted to nicotine, as he is concerned by the increasing number of women and young people who are being killed by smoking.

Modern medicine versus traditional medicine

When we turned to the subject of modern medicine, I was intrigued to learn that professor Milică has no contempt for the drugs and theories of today, and indeed believes the modern and traditional schools of thought are compatible. He did point out the many

Today, professor Milică is one of the most respected names in his field, and his clinic at the ‘Centre for Herbal Medicine’ has over 1000 products. ‘aroma Iaşi’ produces treatments for almost every kind of human affliction: from respiratory to dermatological, cardiovascular to metabolic. ‘We even have remedies to keep you young!’ added the professor, quite sincerely.

his inspiration into the medical plants world

I was eager to hear about the people who had inspired such his work. He was quick to explain that all modern 18 TRADITIONAL MEDICINE

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flaws in the pharmacological discoveries of the 20th and 21st centuries though. While he respected the benefits of the discovery of penicillins and antibiotics in the early 1900s, he was quick to point out the speed with which viruses are developing immunities to these prescriptions. Similarly, while he saw the recognition of vitamins as crucial to a healthy lifestyle as a progressive development, he noted the huge number of new drugs that are trialed and subsequently withdrawn. The Thalidomide scandal, he said, had proved to be a watershed moment in modern homeopathy. The disastrous consequences of the prescription – which was meant to alleviate morning sickness but led to babies being born with massive deformities – revived interest in traditional medicine across europe. disillusioned with the uncertainty surrounding modern pharmaceuticals, which might either miraculously cure or demonstrate lethal side effects, many turned instead to natural and historic remedies, whose effects were less dramatic but proven safe by centuries of testing. professor Milică told me Romania is playing an important role in this reactionary movement, as its flowers are seen as some of the least polluted in the western world. Central european companies have noted this and buy thousands of tonnes of Romanian plant material every year. But while he did not entirely dismiss the medical discoveries of recent years, - issue no 13, 2013

he was critical of the medical education younger doctors are receiving, which he feels ignores almost all research before 1905. He expressed concern at the apparent disregard among young physicians for the writing of ancient ones. To neglect 5000 years worth of study he said, when looking at the patients of the present, is nothing short of ignorance. at the same time, professor Milică was pleased to tell me that his understanding with older members of the medical profession has allowed him to build strong relationships with hospitals and pharmacies in the last 5 years. ‘More and more, experienced doctors refer patients straight to homeopathic clinics like mine’ he exclaimed proudly, and it is clear that there is a growing understanding, at least in Romania, between these contrasting practices.

Professor Milică promotes traditional medicine by his work and his own example

another important aspect of professor Milică’s work is the promotion of homeopathic ideas to the general public. He has written 34 books (the most recent titled ‘Medical Flora of Romania’), and has published a total of 1081 papers, some of which he has presented in lectures on national television. He also regularly updates his website, (www.farmacia-verde.ro) which has been visited over two million times since it was set up ten years ago. perhaps most remarkably though, professor Constantin Milică will be 84 before long, and yet shows little sign of

slowing down. He is without doubt that traditional medicine has enabled him to live a longer and more productive life. In fact, the big project on the professor’s horizon is advocating his natural treatments as a way of living longer. He hopes to build on his book ‘Youth Without death’, in which he makes reference to Methusula, the biblical character who allegedly lived 969 years. While he accepts that homeopathy will not yet enable us to survive for millennia, he deems use of natural medicine to be as important as good food and lack of stress in living to a ripe old age. Towards the end of our session, he alleged that the chemicals in many modern products will often cure illness in the short term, but have detrimental effects on our long term health. The diminishing responsibility medical companies have for their products worries him immensely. While the institutions that brought out defective drugs like Thalidomide were brought to justice in the 60s and 70s, today pharmaceutical companies avoid all liability for the adverse side effects their treatments might produce by claiming those who take them do so at their own risk, albeit in minute print. When our interview had concluded, I felt not only privileged to have heard so much from a respected scientist, but truly motivated to take my own health all the more seriously. I can be sure that next time I enter a pharmacy, it certainly will be with a less blinkered mindset. TRADITIONAL MEDICINE 19


‘Sarmale’ (Cabbage Rolls)

Ingredients: - 500g of beef mince - 500g of pork mince - 2 onions - rice - tomato sauce - water - pickled cabbage leaves - mamaliga (polenta)

Enjoy the Romanian traditional flavours!

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suspect even the intimidating growling of Rodica Ichim’s huge dog was meant amicably, for as soon as I crossed the threshold every resident of her household seemed determined to make me feel at home. My smiling hosts quickly ushered me into a crowded kitchen and invited me to join the preparation of a traditional prânz. From every surface wafted the smell of fresh ingredients: pickled cabbage, large mushrooms, and a fragrant cheese paste used to stuff tomatoes. While Rodica beer battered and fried the mushrooms, the rest of us set about rolling our first sarmale. Romanian folklore holds that once a man can wrap the mincemeat into neat cabbage packages, he is ready to be married. By this logic, most of us look set to remain single for some while yet, as almost our clumsy first attempts had to be cheerfully resurrected by our hostess! With the end products placed in a ceramic dish ready for baking, and some homemade lemonade freshly brewed, we at last sat down to begin our feast. and what a feast! The lunch-athon continued all through the afternoon, with staggered digestion breaks throughout. In these breaks we played a curious game that was something like poker played with dice, though I don’t consider myself good enough to pass the rules on. all the while we were entertained by Rodica’s stories about her children, and her experiences of foreign cultures. My enjoyment of the occasion was a sad reminder to me of the little time I had left in Brasov. I explained sincerely that I would miss the food more than anything else. To this my new foster mother laughed, explaining she would happily be my consultant if I were to open a Romanian restaurant back home. Though my cooking may stop me from achieving this dream, the recipes below will always bring me back to that snowy march afternoon. 20 ROMANIAN FOOD

How it’s done: 1. prepare mincemeat filling: combine 500g of beef mince with 500g of pork. 2. Meanwhile, thinly slice some onions before frying them, adding rice, tomato sauce and water slowly. 3. add the meat and leave the mixture to marinade slowly. 4. prepare some pickled cabbage leaves (if you do not have time to pickle, boil them in salty water) 5. Roll a small handful of the now juicy filling inside a cabbage leaf. aim for an oblong shape with the ends tucked in. 6. place in a ceramic dish, cover, then bake for an hour As they are one of the most famous parts Romanian cuisine, this was not the first time I had tried Sarmale. These were some of the best I'd tasted though, as the meat was wonderfully tender, and the rolls weren't cooked for long enough to make them fall apart. Served on a bed of cabbage, their sharp vinegary was balanced well by some warm mamaliga. Serves many. Enjoy your meal!

by Tom Lynas www.revista-satul.ro


'Roşii umplute cu brânză' - Tomatoes Stuffed with Cheese Ingrediente: - tomatoes - cheese - sour cream - chilli peppers - onions - dill How it’s done: 1. Remove tops of tomatoes, and hollow out 2. Make the cheese paste: mix finely grated cheese with sour cream, chilli peppers, onions and dill. Mix until consistent 3. Fill the hollow tomatoes with the paste, packing it in tightly, before replacing the 'lids' 4. Refrigerate, and serve cold

'Şniţele de ciuperci' Mushroom Schnitzels Ingredients: - mushrooms - 3 eggs - salt and pepper - beer - oil

Unlike many English versions of this dish, the tomatoes are eaten at, or below room temperature. The freshness of the ingredients is therefore essential, as any bland flavours are much more perceptible. Personally I would have added more chilli to my own, but this is more a matter of individual taste. They were served as a starter but went equally well alongside the schnitzel, a fact someone making lunch on a shorter timescale might consider. Enjoy your meal!

How it’s done: 1. Wash mushrooms, cut stems, dry; 2. Break three eggs in a bowl, mix them with salt and pepper; 3. add beer then whisk until the mixture thickens; 4. dip mushrooms in bowl until they are liberally coated; 5. Fry these in a small amount of oil until golden brown. These delicious vegetarian schnitzels, which varied wonderfully in size, were extremely filling and high in protein. Crucially, they were not fried for too long so the batter retained moisture. This said, anyone cooking them should be careful not to use two much salt in the mixture, as it can detract from the natural flavour of the mushroom. Enjoy your meal!

- issue no 13, 2013

ROMANIAN FOOD 21


Enjoy the Romanian traditional flavours!

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he kitchen is the heart of the house, said Rodica Ichim as she taught me how to make traditional Romanian cuisine. “It’s like I receive you in my heart,” she said.

The theme of the meal we were making was Christmas, the starter and the main including pork, which is eaten a lot at Romanian Christmas celebrations.

'Ouă umplute' Stuffed Eggs Serves 4

Rodica’s main piece of advice was that cooking has to come from the heart. “When you cook it is important to cook with love, with soul and with pleasure because the taste is better,” she said. To start, we made stuffed eggs. The egg, pate and mayonnaise complimented each other very well. The rich meaty taste of the pate was softened by the butter and mayonnaise. The eggs are supposed to be served with bread (Romanians like to eat bread with pretty much everything) but the dish is quite heavy as it is and the stuffed eggs are just as nice on their own. The eggs would also work well as a snack between meals. For the main meal, we made pork with potatoes. Traditionally, the pork is cooked in a clay pot, but this greatly increases the cooking time, so we have simply used a glass casserole dish. The pork was beautifully cooked. It was gently infused with a variety of spices, yet it did not overwhelm the taste buds. The meat was soft and tender and reminded me of beef more than any other pork I have tasted before. Served on the same plate as the potatoes, lightly coated in a garlicky sauce, the juices of the two dishes mix and enhance the taste. The pickles provide a stark contrast to the meal, cutting through the other tastes with their acidity. after all this garlic and meat, you might be searching for the gum to freshen your breath before desert, but Romanians have a different solution: they believe chewing parsley leaves will cleanse your palate, so save any left over from making the two courses. If you have still got room after all this food there is a delicious

sweet cheese pie. Rodica learnt this recipe from her

mother and she says it can also be adapted into a savoury dish. To do this, leave out the sugar, raisins and rum essence and replace it with salt. The sweet version was delectable, with a crisp layer of pastry on top and a soft, lumpy filling. The taste was similar to cheesecake but it was lighter and fluffier. You are guaranteed to be full and satisfied after the three courses, just as you should be at Christmas! as the Romanians say, poftă bună!

Ingredients: - 6 hard boiled eggs - 100g pork pate - 100g mayonnaise - Butter or margarine - Salt - pepper - parsley - Bread How it’s done: 1. Take a thin slice off the tops of the eggs. 2. Squeeze a generous amount of mayonnaise onto a plate. 3. Cut the eggs in half around the mid-section in a zig-zag pattern, by stabbing the knife gently and shallowly in. The cut only needs to be as deep as the white of the egg. 4. Separate the two halves and empty the yolk into a bowl. 5. place the halves on the plate with the mayonnaise, with the hollow insides facing upwards. 6. the pate, a heaped tablespoon of butter, and a pinch of salt and pepper to the bowl containing the yolk and whisk together. 7. Spoon the mixture into the egg halves. 8. Squeeze a dollop of mayonnaise on top of each egg half. 9. Chop the parsley finely and sprinkle over the eggs. 10. Serve with bread. Enjoy your meal!

by Allison Jeffares photos:Paul Lucas 22 ROMANIAN FOOD

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'Friptură de porc şi cartofi ţărăneşti' Pork and Potatoes

'Plăcintă cu brânză' Cheese Pie Serves 7 - 14

Serves 4

Ingredients: - 12 boiled potatoes - pork - garlic (fresh and powder) - Salt - pepper - Thyme - Bay leaves - paprika - Tomato paste - 1 onion - oil - Chilli flakes - ground coriander - dill - parsley - pickles - dry red or white wine (optional) How it’s done: Pork: 1. Season the pork with salt and pepper. 2. Stab the pork all over with a large knife a dozen or so times and place inside five or six of the holes a clove of garlic. 3. place the pork inside a casserole dish and add thyme, bay leaves, garlic powder, pepper and paprika to the top. 4. pour ½ cup of oil and 1 cup of water (or substitute half the water for a dry white or red wine) on top of the pork. 5. Cover the dish with aluminium foil and place in oven for an hour at 220°C. 6. every 10 minutes, take the pork out and put a fork in it to check how it is cooking. 7. When it has about 10 minutes left, add tomato paste to the pork. Potatoes: 1. peel the potatoes. 2. dice five or six cloves of garlic finely. 3. Cut the onion in half and then slice julienne style. 4. Chop a small amount of dill and parsley finely. 5. drizzle some oil in a large frying pan and add the garlic, onion and a small amount of chilli flakes, paprika, ground coriander, salt and pepper. 6. Fry until soft. 7. add the potatoes and mix. 8. add the dill and parsley. 9. Serve the pork and potatoes with pickles. Enjoy your meal!

- issue no 13, 2013

Ingredients: - 700g cottage cheese - 14 thin sheets of pastry - 4 eggs - 1 cup of raisins - Rum essence or dark rum - vanilla essence - oil - Sour cream - Sugar - Milk How it’s done: 1. Crack two eggs into a bowl. 2. Whisk the eggs and add 1 cup of sugar, 1 heaped tablespoon of sour cream, the raisins, the rum essence and the cheese as you whisk. 3. drizzle some oil on a tray and rub it in to cover the whole surface. 4. lay out two slices of pastry together (landscape fashion) and drizzle oil over the top and rub it in. It does not have to cover the whole surface. 5. dollop mixture in a horizontal strip across the middle of the pastry. 6. Fold the top third of the pastry down over the mixture and then fold the bottom third up. 7. Scrunch the pastry and place on the tray. 8. Repeat for the next six and place them all side by side with no gaps on the tray. 9. Cut each pastry roll into quarters. 10. place in the oven at 220°C. 11. Crack two eggs into a bowl and mix in 1/3 cup milk and a few drops of vanilla essence. 12. When the pie is almost done, pour the liquid evenly over the top and return to the oven. 13. When the pie is crispy, take it out of the oven and slice into squares. 14. Serve warm. Enjoy your meal!

ROMANIAN FOOD 23


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