All of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil world, but we don't. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity.

Robert Kennedy

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Food, glorious food!

One of the most common questions I get is 'what is the food like?' A valid question. 
So, the best food that I have had here is шашлик (Sha-sh-leek) which is basically grilled pork on a skewer with onions and peppers. There is a specific marinade that just makes it very Moldovan that I haven't quite understood yet.

Another favorite I have learned to love, Mama Liga which is like a hard cornmeal side dish usually smothered in sour cream and shredded local cheese. Delicious. 
BUT, I did want to learn to make a few things. So I did what any sane person would do and asked some locals to teach me. 

Lesson #1 - Борш! (Borscht)

I grew up with a Polish style borscht which contained a lot of kielbasa and hot dogs and boiled eggs. That is what we had (and still have) for every holiday. When I moved here, it was a Russian style borscht which has a beet base. I know what you're don't eat vegetables! Well...when in Cahul... I do eat a lot more vegetables now than I ever have, but still not nearly as much as I should.
Our dear friend Natasha came over and gave us a borscht making lesson. So Borscht is a soup made of cabbage, beets, carrots, onions, potatoes and meat with some spices. It is delicious. It took me about a year to really appreciate it but now I love it and am so happy that now I know how to make it.

Boiling a head of shredded cabbage.

Shredded beets and cabbage.

Putting it all together to simmer.

Finally, can't have a bowl of soup in Eastern Europe without a gob of sour cream. Delicious.

Lesson #2 - Фаршированный перец и голубцы (Stuffed Peppers and Grape Leaves)

Our dear friend Sasha's mother offered to teach us how to make these from scratch and it took a long day (with a lot of wine) to do them all. 

Diced onions, carrots, peppers, giblets and fatty pork.

Fresh Grape Leaves.

Throwing it all together.

Cored peppers.

Adding the rice to the mixture.

Sasha enjoying the knife sharpening process...a little too much.

Stuffed and ready to cook. 

Packed the pot tightly so there are no gaps.

Covering it with extra grape leaves.

Looked through one of their old Soviet photo albums.
 They were delicious. And this family is wonderful. I'm so happy to be able to spend the day with them and speak Russian and exchange cultural recipes and stories. They have opened their homes and their hearts to us. It will be very difficult to say goodbye to them.
Vlad (Sasha's brother), Me, Gheorge (Sasha's Dad), Nelya (Sasha's Mom), Jesse and Holly.
(Sasha is taking the photo.)

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