Monday, September 9, 2013

Tomato Juice in Moldova

So, I had the opportunity to visit a long lost part of Romania... Moldova.

Now free from Russian rule, but not free of their influence, Moldova is trying to regain it's Romanian heritage.
People there speak Romanian, as well as Russian. It's much poorer than Romania, and more than 80% of the population are agrarian.

I went with my uncle and aunt to some of their friends, and we planned to make tomato juice for the winter.

First a tour of the area. I forgot to take pictures of the house... but oh well, we were outside most of the time anyways.

And now we're off to the field, picking a variety of tomatoes. Big ones, small ones, oval ones, red ones and orange ones.

My aunt.

My uncle.

My aunt and the lovely couple from Moldova.

They also had a bunch of nut trees, and naturally, like a squirrel, I filled up my pockets.

By the end, my hands were dirty and smelling like tomatoes. It was divine!!

That evening I helped milk the cow. She was not being very generous with me. I think she didn't feel too comfortable with me fiddling around her. 

In the morning, the lady made sour cream with cheese and polenta for breakfast. Very hardy!

Then we got to making the tomato juice.

First, sorting and washing the ripest tomatoes.

Then cutting away any damaged parts and also cutting them into smaller pieces.

 And then running them through a food processor that separated the pulp and juice from the seeds and skin. It was super efficient. 

Then off to get boiled, with some salt and pepper.

Toader checking if it's ready.

You let it boil until the froth at the top dissipates. 

In the meantime, my aunt was washing and prepping the bottles.

And in the juice went.

Then the bottles were set on a blanket, and covered, so they'd cool of slowly throughout the night.

I was free to flutter around and take pictures of everything and everyone. 
I saw this really old and cool wood stove.

Seed saving!!!
From the biggest and ripest tomatoes, we squeezed and cut out the seeds to save for next year. I got to take some seeds with me as well, and have them drying nicely next to the window. Next year when I'll go do that farming internship, I'm definitely going to try growing some of these tomatoes.

Wash, rinse, and let to dry.

They also had tons of grapes over the outside table. 

I got me some and ate them. I gave the chickens some as well.

For a late lunch we made this. I don't know what it is. But it's supposed to be really healthy, and full of good stuff. It tasted great too.

Here's soup, some chicken and sour cream sauce, and then the cereal stuff in the smaller pot.

Delicious sour soup, not complete without some liquor. It was so wonderful to share with this family the work, the conversations, the food and the alcohol.
I got a very nice buzz by the end of the day. I was feeling very happy and warm.

Everyone engrossed in the meal. It was perfect!

And then the main dish, not complete without a shot of liquor and some scrumptious NOT SWEET pickles. 
These must have been the best pickles I've ever eaten.

Washing up now. There was also a really cute tom cat meowing around this lady every time she had a dish in her hand. That cat was smart. He knew who had the food.

Both of the people from Moldova are teachers, and so, the lady took me to her school, grades 1-12, to see how it's like. It was so cute inside.

The gym. 

Romanian royals from the past.

And Romanian famous writers.

I was very impressed with those 2 displays in particular. It showed that the school valued the history and literature of these people, and displayed it in the busiest areas of the school.

Then, in the evening, I helped make some crepes with soft home made cheese and sour cream, and some with some awesome jam.

We also had some tomato soup made with the freshly finished tomato sauce, and with freshly home made noodles. Also not complete without the shot of liquor, and this time onion. The bread is missing from the picture.

It was a busy Friday and Saturday, and by the end, we were all tired and a bit tipsy. Lots of work, lots of food, plenty of drinks, good conversations and lots of radio shows about the Romanian language and the Russian occupation of Moldova. It was a great and productive 2 days.

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