Archives for the month of: September, 2011

2011 marks the Peace Corps’ 50th anniversary, so some volunteers in our group (M25) started a committee to develop and implement celebratory activities throughout the year. One of the major initiatives of this committee is the creation and maintenance of a blog where a post is added each day for a year by a Peace Corps Volunteer serving in Moldova. At first I was skeptical of this initiative, mainly because I thought it would be a brag blog. I think, though, that it has actually turned into a great blog, one that promotes volunteerism and Moldovan culture (and yes… maybe a little bit of bragging.). Check it out if you have a second.

Another initiative organized by this committee was a celebration in Ștefan Cel Mare Park in Chișinău. On a hot Saturday in July, most of the PCVs came into Chișinău to work booths and represent Peace Corps Moldova. The day was filled with local and American musical entertainment, speeches from Moldovan and American dignitaries, and a lot of explaining what Peace Corps is and what we’re doing in Moldova.

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Odessa is a city on the Black Sea in Ukraine about an hour west of the Moldovan border. Moldova is land-locked so a lot of Moldovans vacation in Odessa because it’s close and cheap. We took a last minute trip just before school started up again. I liked Odessa, but I would have liked to see more of the city. For the 30 hours we were there, we mainly hung out at the beach and went to the touristy area for dinner because neither of us speaks Russian or Ukrainian.

I love sheep cheese almost as much as I love sheep.  This salted sheep cheese pairs nicely with mămăligă, other breads, and salads. It can be compared to ricotta salata, but it seems to be prepared slightly saltier in Moldova. It is a hard, white cheese with a very strong flavor… most likely a cheese you’ll have to get used to. It is stored in salt water in a cool place.

If you were to ask a Moldovan what the most traditional Moldovan dish is, she would most likely say mămăligă. It is served with soups, cheese, eggs, meats, and many other things. Mămăligă is like our version of corn bread but much more dense. During the winter a bowl of zeamă (chicken noodle soup) and mămăligă with sheep’s cheese (post to come…) was the way to my heart. Delicious. Another great dish is mămăligă with sheep’s cheese, scrambled eggs, and meat.

Ingredients
Corn Flour
Water
Salt

In a steel pot add about 1.5 liters of water. Add a pinch of salt and a little bit of corn flour. Do not dump it in. Instead, scrape it from a bowl into the pot using your hand. You should add enough corn flour so that you cannot see the water. Bring to a boil. When it is ready, the corn flour will puff up. Add a lot more corn flour this time. Mix it a bit with a wooden rounded mămăligă stick (melesteu) to give it space to boil. It will be clumpy. Turn it down lower so that it is still boiling for about 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes, stab it with the wooden stick 3 or 4 times to determine if you need to add more flour. If it isn’t thick enough, add more. Using the stick, mix it, fold it, and stab it several times until you don’t see the flour grains any longer or until it gets really sticky. You want it to be consistent, so don’t mix it too much.

Wet a spoon and using the back side of the spoon, scrape the wooden stick and the sides of the pot, forming the mămăligă into a half circle. When it is shaped how you want, stamp a cross in the top using the spoon. Turn up the heat and let it cook in its formation for 2-3 minutes. Turn it onto the board, and cut it with either thread (traditional) or a knife (practical).

Put water in the pot and let it soak.

Pofta Bună!