Ultima parte din articolul lui John despre România. Cum a fost la Fratelli, la nuntă, de ce experienţe gastronomice a avut parte pe meleagurile noastre şi multe alte detalii care sunt sigură ca vor aduce un zâmbet pe feţele voastre, aşa cum mi-a adus mie când l-am citit pentru prima dată.
„Now that I’ve covered what I saw and where I went, I would like to talk about what I experienced while in Romania. Those that know me know that I enjoy food and almost never say no to a meal 😉 , so I think I will begin with some of the new foods I had the pleasure of trying. I suppose I should start with what I tried in Romania that is also available in America, such as McDonald’s, KFC, Coke, etc… I found that the McDonald’s burgers are not really much different at all, while the salad is much better. I was a bit surprised at first to no salad dressing and instead finding myself pouring yogurt on my salad, but it was a very tasty substitute. KFC was a similar story for me, food very similar albeit a bit fresher tasting. Again, the main difference I found was the sauce, KFC with no barbeque sauce? I was a bit disappointed at first, but then I tried the garlic sauce and all was well with the world again. The Coke was noticeably different, but in a way that I found I liked after returning to America and having a Coke. There seems to be a bit less of a “bite” in Romanian Coke, maybe less sugar or carbonation, whatever it is works. I also got to try my first “shaworma”, the sure way to cut a year off your life :)) , but worth every bite.
Now that we are past the junk foods we can get to some real Romanian cuisine. I was fortunate enough to have home-cooked “mici” which was delicious, as well as schnitzel (also delicious). I also had “mamaliga” which was like a very soft corn-bread for me and very tasty. Other delicious foods included “sarmale”, “kyurtos colac” and an eggplant spread, all of which I thoroughly enjoyed. I also noticed a big difference in restaurant food in general in that the meals were all prepared with much less fat/grease/oil/salt than would normally be true of an American counterpart. This was, needless to say, a welcome change for me. I was also a bit surprised at how inexpensive it is to eat at a restaurant, most dishes would be easily 25-35% more expensive in America for a similar meal. I also had my first rooftop dining experience while in downtown Timisoara and enjoyed every bit of it.
It took a day or so to adjust to the conversion for money and just seeing the number “5” for a soft drink seems appalling at first, but after a division by a bit more than 3 and I realized how inexpensive so many things are. Taxi’s were a fair amount cheaper than America, and I could see part of the reason while waiting for one at the train station in Brasov. All the engines were shut off with each driver pushing his taxi the few feet forward each time the line of cars moved. I tried to think of a time I saw an American taxi driver push his cab (unless it was out of gas), and couldn’t think of one. Score one for Romanian efficiency. Taking note of the cars, almost all were sub-compact or compact cars and a much higher percentage of diesel to gas cars as well as manual to automatic compared to America. I think the largest vehicle I saw was a mid-size SUV (Grand Cherokee, BMW X5, etc…). Score another point for efficiency. I also saw my first attended gas pump, in America I guess everyone is so used to “self-serve” I had never even given it a thought that there would be an attendant. :)) Just another small difference that made my Romanian experience that much more unique.
While riding in the aforementioned taxis, and really any car for that matter, it was odd to be listening to popular music that: 1) I had no idea what they were saying, and 2) Incorporated so much accordion into the music. 😉 At first I found it strange but found that I enjoyed it the more I heard familiar songs come on the radio. There was also one point in the trip that I realized I had been listening to popular music for nearly a week and had not heard a single Justin Bieber song and I could not have been happier. :)) I also had the privilege of being invited to a beautiful wedding and was able to experience traditional Romanian music live. I was thoroughly warned before-hand that I might not enjoy the band composed of a singer, two saxophonists, an accordion player and a keyboardist, but I was actually quite fascinated by the music once I got used to the formidable volume level. At the very least I had respect for the speed at which the saxophonists were able to play for so many hours.
The wedding was quite an interesting experience for me, one I am very glad I was able to enjoy while in Romania. The service was not too dissimilar from other weddings I had been to, with a few exceptions. I had no idea what the priest was saying, the use of the crowns for the bride and groom during the service and the circling of the altar were all new to me. Following the ceremony, I was introduced to the previously mentioned traditional Romanian music during the reception. Also, I was very surprised at how many courses there were in the meal and that the main course wasn’t served until just after midnight (not that I didn’t enjoy all the food). I was also fascinated at how much Romanians love to dance! 😀 I can also say that it was the longest reception that I have ever attended, and I think it may have also been for the British that were in attendance as well, judging by how tired some looked as the party was still in full swing into the morning. I can honestly say that Romanians sure know how to throw a great party!
Speaking of parties, I was also able to enjoy an exciting evening/morning at a nightclub, namely Fratelli. I got to meet some new people and see what the nightlife is about firsthand, and I definitely stand by what I said that Romanians know how to party. We arrived before most had and before long found that the entire club was standing room only. I’m not normally a person who would go to a club, but I enjoyed every minute. I will admit I wasn’t used to the amount of smoke and my eyes didn’t thank me, but I still had a great time. Restaurants/bars in America are all non-smoking and individuals who wish to must step outside, a fairly new law that I had almost forgotten about until being inside a club without that rule.
So I met people at a wedding, a club, family and friends as well as normal daily interactions with waiters/cashiers/etc… (which were fairly limited considering my currently extremely limited Romanian vocabulary). I also had the pleasure of attending a Timisoara Toastmasters meeting, a group of people who assemble every Wednesday to practice and better themselves at public speaking. Once a month this meeting is held in English and the timing worked so that I was able to understand what was being said. :)) While the meeting was very professional and structured, it was also fun and made for a great environment to learn and better one’s skills. I would highly recommend anyone who is struggling with public speaking or needs a little help with how to structure their presenting abilities to sit in on a meeting. They are a worldwide organization, the odds are that there will be one near you.
After meeting all these different people, I have a few observations about the Romanian people in general: 1) Quite friendly, even those who did not know who I was 2) Certainly enjoy a good party or celebration 3) Rather witty and outgoing (noticed in large part at Toastmasters, but perhaps they were a select group of clever individuals 😉 ) 4) Quite accepting of an outsider in general making it a great country to visit. Even if I did not know anyone there, I still wouldn’t have had much trouble getting around and ordering food, etc… speaking in only English. I can honestly say that everyone I met was very nice, pleasant, clever, polite, and feel free to add any other complimentary adjectives you can think of.
While I was there, I cannot count the number of times I was asked how I like Romania even though the answer was always the same, “I like it!”. 😉 I didn’t usually expand on that statement too much if any at the time, possibly because I was still thinking about all the things that I do like about the country. I love the old architecture, the quaint country villages, the diverse geography, the food, the people. I actually have a hard time thinking of things that I disliked, I’m sure they could be counted on one hand. My overall impression of Romania is that it is a lovely country with great range of attributes to attract different individuals. I, personally, loved my time in Romania and can’t wait to return, hopefully for a longer visit the next time! :D”