Tag Archives: culture

28 Romanian Foods the Whole World Should Know

For those who have been curious about what Romanian’s eat, here’s a great blog post about some traditional Romanian foods, most of which are eaten regularly by Romanians and most of which I’ve at least tried.  I have to point out, however, that calling slanina “bacon” is VERY misleading.  It’s not bacon.  Not in the least.

With that said, check out the link and learn a bit about what Romanians eat.

http://onejive.com/28-romanian-foods-the-whole-world-should-know/

I think this means… I do too much walking

Because I don’t have a car here in Bucharest, I end up spending a lot of time walking.  (Some days, in fact, I feel like that’s *all* I do.)

While I do some intellectually-stimulating things (like practice speaking/thinking Romanian, listen to Romanian preachers), some spiritually-strengthening things (like listen to preaching form the U.S., pray in tongues, meditate on Scripture, talk with God), and some mind-numbing things (like get annoyed at the slow-walking people, complain about the weather, hurry), I also do one thing that really doesn’t fit into any category:  I practice Tuvan overtone singing.  🙂

It’s probably one of the most difficult and useless skills I hope to develop while in Bucharest, but it really sounds awesome when it’s done right.  (Trust me, it does!)  Unfortunately, I don’t do it right.  (Trust me, I don’t!)  Fortunately, since I often walk along some pretty empty streets, I’m the only one who hears my pitiful attempts.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwANedEkqaY

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Mărțișor – It’s Everywhere!

If you’re in Romania during the end of February, you’ll notice stands popping up all over selling little red-and-white pieces of jewelry for 1 leu (35 cents).  They’re on the roadsides, in the malls, on the subways… everywhere!  And they are most definitely not candy canes.

And, if you’re American, you’re probably asking yourself, “What on earth is going on here?!?!”  Because the only thing going on in February in America is the Superbowl and a whole lot of snow.  (Okay, so I guess we do have President’s Day and Valentine’s Day as well.)

Say “hello” to Mărțișor, a traditional Romanian celebration that goes all the way back to the ancient Roman or even the  Dacian (pre-Roman) people of the Carpathian region.  It has its roots as a fertility festival, the rebirth of nature, and a celebration of spring.  Celebrants would participate by giving and receiving mărțișoare (the small, red-and-white, pieces of jewelry).  In ancient times (and yet today in some rural areas) these trinkets were believed to have magical properties, guaranteeing the wearer of a good, blessed, and fertile future.  Today, for most people they’re simply a fun way to show you value someone’s friendship.

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Tales from the Golden Age

A few weeks ago, we were speaking about movies at our English Conversation Club.  I mentioned that I haven’t enjoyed most of the Romanian movies I’ve seen, to which the students all responded with eyes wide in horror (not literally, but definitely metaphorically) at my comment.

“Why do you not enjoy Romanian films?  I think maybe you cannot understand them.”

“Oh, no, even with subtitles.  It’s just…”  I dug my hole deeper.

“But we have many good Romanian movies.”

“I honestly haven’t seen too many,” I said, digging myself out a bit.  “Probably I have only seen the bad ones.”  I quickly turned the conversation away from trying to explain why I did not like Romanian movies and instead asked for recommendations of Romanian films I should see.

And that’s how I ended up watching one of the funniest and most insightful movies I’ve seen in a long time:  Tales from the Golden Age.

The movie is based around a number of short stories, legends of what life was like under Communism.  Some would be downright sad and painful in reality but on film are simply hilarious.  (The Christmas pig!!!!)  I don’t want to spoil too much of the fun, so I won’t tell any more.  But if you need more to convince you this movie is worth your time, check out IMDb and the trailer (see below).

Romanian Lines

In America, I could walk up to a line of cash registers, take a quick glance, and within seconds have picked out the fastest line. I wasn’t right all the time, but more often than not, I would end up with a winner and walk out of there faster than the rest.

Not so in Romania.

Here, I seem to have a nack for picking the slowest line possible.

This “gift” has rarely ever failed me.

While standing in line in America is a fairly routine, boring thing to do–you simply follow along behind the person directly in front of you–waiting in line in Romania is a bit more adventurous. Let me explain.

There seem to be four basic categories into which Romanian lines fall: (1) the Jumbled Mass, (2) the Knotted String, (3) the Secret List, and (4) the Mysterious Complication.

(Before continuing, please note that I love Romania and this is all written in good humor and, while representing my experience, may not be completely factual. In fact, there’s a good chance it’s all completely made up.)

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Why Romanians are Awesome

Sometimes Bucharest gets to me, and sometimes Romanians drive me nuts. But the last few days have been full of reminders that Romanians are really awesome people and the world would be a whole lot better if we had more of them. Yes, they’re not perfect and have all sorts of faults. But God made Romanians in his image, and I love when they show that image clearly.

So, without further ado, here are ten reasons why Romanians are awesome.

1. Nowhere else will a total stranger spend 30 minutes with you trying to help you find the obscure address you need to find. He may even lead you to the wrong place in the end, but at least he’s there in the wrong place with you and just as frustrated as you are. Seriously, I’ve never met a Romanian who wasn’t willing to help even if he didn’t really know how.

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Tongue-in-Cheek “Romania’s National List”

romaniaBefore reading, know that I haven’t lived here in Romania long enough to give anything like a credible list of what really makes Romania awesome.  And know that I love Romania and the people who live here.  It’s a wonderful country full of truly loving people, beautiful scenery, delicious food, amazing music…  The list goes on!

But, with all that said, I have been here long enough to notice some of the more unique (from an American perspective) aspects of life in Romania.  So here is my tongue-in-cheek “Romania’s National List.”  Enjoy!

Romania’s National Food:  Covrigi
covrigNow, do I really think the common, street-side pretzel is worthy to receive the illustrious title of “Romania’s National Food”?  A pretzel?  Really?  Yes, I do indeed believe so.  Now, there are certainly more tasty foods in Romania (from sarmale, delicious cabbage roles filled with meat and rice, to soarma, a favorite “fast food” composed of slices of beef or chicken put onto flatbread along with fries, peppers, cabbage, pickles, etc.).  And there are certainly more “Romanian” foods (take ciorba de burta, for instance, a delicious, slighlty sour soup that contains cow stomach, or piftie, a “jello” made with all the leftover parts of pork after the hotdogs are made, and they’re all clearly visible encased in the clear jello).  And, yes, there are healthier foods (I don’t have space enough to describe the wonders of raw fruits and vegetables in Romania).  But when you can go to the capital city and never fear going hungry because there’s always a pretzel stand within 100 feet… well, that says something.  So, not for its taste, nor for its cultural value, nor for its healthiness but simply for its shear inescapable presence… the covrig walks away with this most coveted title.  So go buy a pretzel and remember Romania today!

Romania’s National Bird:  The Mosquito
mosquitoAlthough you might think that this flying creature’s likeness to Dracula and his blood-sucking tendencies would give it the title of “Romania’s National Bird,” it’s actually its simple tenacity that gives it the name.  Here in the capital city of Bucharest, mosquitoes fly into our windows from April all the way to mid-November.  And these mosquitoes aren’t like what we have back home in Wisconsin.  No, these are tiny, fast, swarming demons, and their sole purpose is to torture you.  They’re not hungry; they just hate you.  Seriously, though, one mosquito in my room left me with about a dozen bites by the morning.  And that’s why it carries away the most sought-after title in all the kingdom of flying creatures:  Romania’s National Bird.

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