Sunday, 11 April 2010


As I already explained here, the Maramures (Mah-rah-muhr-esh) region is to the north of Cluj-Napoca, and it took us about 2 1/2 hours to drive to the village we were visiting. Again, we saw some spectacular scenery along the route, including driving through a cleft in the mountains! And then we reached the village itself, which sprawls along a valley alongside a river.

Many of the families, including that we were visiting, own chickens to provide them with eggs - The Children thought this was wonderful! Four eggs were laid while we were there, and The Girl loved collecting them and taking them into the kitchen.

(I have to say, though, I wouldn't be surprised if those eggs were all double-yolked - or not yolked at all.... Those poor chickens! The Children had a great time rounding them up, herding them into corners, etc, etc!)

The rooms in the house were kept warm by big ceramic wood-fired stoves - which meant that a good stock of wood was necessary!

There was also a wood-fired range in the kitchen, as well as a newer electric oven, both of which were used for cooking.

And oh, were they used for a lot of cooking! Lunch began with soup (they have soup pretty much every day, often a clear broth with vegetables in it; this one also contained noodles, and is made for special occasions, so we were very honoured!)

And then we had pork and chicken with rice (more of a risotto than plain rice) and a side dish of pickled beetroot with grated horseradish.

For dessert we each had a savarina:

And oh my gosh, there was so MUCH food!! We were assured that we weren't expected to eat everything - which is just as well, because I don't think we physically could have done!

After lunch we went for a walk up into the hills to get a good view over the village.

You can see from this picture how it grew lengthwise along the valley, contained between the slopes of two hills. You can also just about see the beautiful mountains in the background, but by then the rainclouds were heading our way!

Then the rain started and we got soaked... A friend of our host's friend's parents came to find us in his car, and we had a hair-raising ride back to the house, 6 of us packed into an ancient Dacia down a track on a hillside! Luckily the rain didn't last too long so The Children were able to go out and terrorise the chickens again, and I was able to grab a quick shot of a passing horse and cart:

And then we were told that our afternoon snack was ready.....! So we tried a local delicacy, sarmale, which are cabbage leaves stuffed with a spiced mixture of rice and meat and served with sour cream. There were only four of us eating these, and about 50 (yes, that's fifty!) of them had been prepared.... And then we were served with another dessert, pears poached in a fruit syrup! This was just an afternoon snack, remember!

So yes, the hospitality shown to us was almost overwhelmingly kind in its warmth and generosity, as demonstrated by the amazing food and also by the way everyone was to us - a visitor who called while we were there handed out bars of chocolate to The Children and to me (this is the same visitor who later came to rescue us during the downpour). It made a huge impression on me, I can tell you. A big highlight of the trip :-)


Maria Ontiveros said...

What a wonderful travel log. I love the ceramic stove, the picture of the mountain and the picture of the horse-drawn carriage.

debs14 said...

So fascinating to read about life 'off the beaten track' and what a fab way for your family to find out about life in a very different country. I'm loving your posts on your visit - keep 'em coming!

scrappyjacky said...

It's fascinating to see all this,Mel....a country not that far away....but so different.

Sian said...

What an absolutely amazing experience for the kids..they are never going to forget this, especially as they are lucky enough to have a mum with the foresight to blog it! I've said it before and I'll say it again..fascinating :)

JO SOWERBY said...

it all looks like healthy food though apart from the one with all the cream! your trip sounds amazing, glad u enjoyed urselves.
Jo xxx

ComfyMom~Stacey said...

I love hearing about meals in other countries. It sounds & looks like such an interesting place

Amy said...

I find it amazing that no matter where you go a trip is often remembered by the people you meet and the food you eat, the sights are great but the connections with people and their culture make the trip sensational.
Thank goodness you are blogging - where are you going next?

Anonymous said...

I've loved reading about your trip; the food, seeing the architecture and the landscape, and hearing about the people.

sharyncarlson said...

Love reading about your trip (and the pics, too, of course!).

Jo's Place said...

How fabulous and what great hosts you had. Love all the photo's of your travels