WARNING: The images in these pictures are larger than they appear.
Holiday eating in Romania is not for the unenthusiastic! It's also not for Vegans! Since we are tons of fun to have as dinner guests, we had our share of dinner invitations during the holidays. As you look at this blog, feel fortunate that you only had to LOOK at the food. We had to EAT it!
Last Sunday, we were invited to this nice home in the suburbs of Bucharest. The Brinaru's live in a real, free-standing home, not a bloc building! Brother Brinaru owns his own printing company and is very successful.
Once the food is brought out, the serving begins. There is no such thing as asking for a small portion--you can ask but it's not what you get!
Mamaliga is a cornmeal mush that is served with Sarmale. I stopped Gabriella after the first and got two more scoops! Sarmale is a cabbage roll--sour, pickled cabbage stuffed with minced pork and rice then cooked in a pot for hours. It is delicious! Also, to round out the plate, you need more pork, in the form of a chop!
While this looks like "Fritos", (only in our dreams), it's really pig hide. When the pig is butchered, the hair is burned off with a blow torch (you can't make this stuff up), and then the hide is cut into strips and placed in a brine. If you chew it long enough, it becomes tolerable! We can't believe we ate it!
Bro. Brinaru reminds us of Keven Campbell but instead of holding up a King Crab, Bro. Brinaru shows off a pig kidney!
You can only imagine the size of the "donor" pig!
As if we were meat-deprived, we also have a vat of curing sausage. Luckily, this was not on the menu! It was being prepared for Christmas.
Continuing "show and tell", we have pig stomach and other "parts" in brine. Yum!
Now, this was on the menu and we were all given a big slice of LIVER encased in intestines! Bro. Brinaru was so very proud of this dish and he explained it was not only pig liver but also onions and livers from assorted birds. Don't ask.
Elder James (left) is new in Romania and you can tell he's less than enthusiastic about what he has in his mouth at the moment. Elder Johnson eats everything! (Notice the bowl of fruit!)
Finally, something we recognized! Dessert! Amazingly, it was disappointing.
We love the Brinaru family. They were so generous to invite us for dinner. They are wonderful examples of how keeping the commandments and embracing the gospel brings joy and prosperity.
Today, after church, we were invited to the Viaduva home for some home cookin' (since we are starting to look emaciated!).Elena Oroz (on the left) was also invited and we were happy to have her along as she speaks English and could translate when we got into a bind.
First course was ciorba de curcan--Turkey sour soup! It was delicious, if you could avoid the arteries and pin feathers!
Then came the Sarmale and Mamaliga, which I found impossible to eat. Talk about rich!
Luckily, Denny helped to "dispose" of what was left!
Just when you think you can feel a Sunday nap coming on, this plate is placed before you. We summoned all our will to eat at least a portion of this fare. Seriously, do we really need all this meat? Here we have more pork, sausage and something so terrible I have blocked the name for it in my memory. It is pieces of chicken and a layer of chopped garlic suspended in a very salty and garlic laced gelatin. The question I wanted to ask was, "Why so much?". Eating food like this brings missionaries blessings!
Finally, it was time to sit around the table and chat...in Romanian, my least favorite activity. It fits somewhere between getting a root canal and riding a night train with drunk people. The bread in the foreground is Cozanac--a Christmas bread with a swirl of cinnamon and nuts.
As you can see, we are having a great time learning the customs and developing our tastes for Romanian delicacies. Although the gelatin dish will never be in the running for one of our favorites, we have come to appreciate most foods, in moderation! What we crave is a tossed salad or fresh broccoli or a veggie tray. Is that too much to ask?
Apparently, it IS too much to ask! Don't mess with Sora Florica!
(She's actually the nicest lady--just not real photogenic!)
This is the last Christmas we will spend in Romania. Next year, another missionary couple (the Wolsey's from Edmonton) will enjoy the cooking of these wonderful Romanians.
(We intend to clue them in on the Gelatin thing!)