For the past two nights I’ve had the pleasure of being invited to traditional Transylvanian dinners, hosted and prepared by Agnes and Endre in the upstairs kitchen. Last night we had a sort of stir-fry dish with white rice and vegetables, tomatoes in balsamic vinaigrette, palinka, and wine. I hesitate to call the main course stir-fry because it wasn’t really stir-fry. But that’s the closest appromimation I can give. Vegetables in sauce over rice. It was delicious.
FYI: Palinka is strong. Here’s the description according to http://www.europenethotels.com/blog/:
Produced in both Hungary and Transylvania, this traditional, double-distilled fruit brandy is made from various kinds of fruits, including: plums, pears, apricots, applies, cherries, mulberries or quinces. The drink can also be made from honey or pomace, but the fruit varieties are certainly the most popular in Hungary.
The word “pálinka” comes from the Slovanic stem “pálit,” which means to burn. It also has roots to the Slovaks with the word “tótpálinka” which was used in Hungary to refer to alcoholic drinks that were derived from wheat. The actual drink dates back to the 14th century, when the spirit was most likely combined with rosemary for medicinal purposes. Many believe it was used by both King Charles I of Hungary and his wife to help soothe their arthritis pains.
The kind we had was apricot. And burn it did! Before tasting it, I asked if it could be compared to the Scandinavian Aquavit. I was told igen (yes) so I was prepared 🙂
Tonight we were served something else. It was so strong that I can’t remember the name. Ha! J/K, J/K. No, really, we were served something that purt’ near lights your nosehairs on fire. I tried not to breathe as I sipped it throughout dinner. It was fun to try though. It’s a treat to be able to see what the traditions here are, and it’s very kind of them to cook for so many people. The main course tonight was a sort of cornmeal and sheep’s cheese mash (?). Once again, I’m not really sure how to describe it. You put sour cream and salt (So, pronounced Yo) on top before you eat it. It was good.
Funny thing about sour cream here. I’ve never seen so much sour cream in my life! If I hadn’t been shown, by Ilona, on my first night here, what it looks like in the store, I’d have thought it was yogurt. There are rows upon rows of it on the grocery shelves, all with differently colored labels and differently sized containers. Just like the yogurt section at home. Without Ilona’s warning, I would’ve bought it and tried to eat it straight. Meredith (another American, from Boston) said she made that mistake here once. Apparently she put big gobs of it on her muesli in the morning one day, thinking it was yogurt. I bet she woke up real fast!
At dinner, three of the Hungarian students (see them here) offered to take me to a pen store tomorrow! I’m very excited!! One of my Spar grocery store pens is already misbehaving. Shame on you, brand-new pen.
I need to work on my molds more tomorrow too. I have one in the dry box that I’m going to cast tomorrow, and if it works, I’m going to make at least three more. I decided to test the water/plaster ratio that I used today before making lots of molds, in case it’s not what I’m looking for.
Here’s a picture from dinner last night:
Here’s a picture of my cottleboards for mold-making. Never made molds like this before, using only glass. It was a little scary but it worked well.
Go to my facebook page to read about my adventures with La Fiesta.