Tuesday, 26 August 2014

23rd day

Today was the earliest we’ve had to get up all month. We had our instructions for getting the right bus, where the station was and that the our seats had been booked. Naturally we got there early and found our bus (we hoped) but no-one said until about 5-10mins before the bus left that we couldn’t buy our tickets on the bus….. so quickly over to the office (which was not obviously apparent), and onto the bus. One of our seats was already taken by a guy and we thought it too difficult to argue so used some other seats. (This proved awkward as more people got on but everyone accommodated everyone else)
An interesting journey mainly due to the slight anxiety because of not knowing whether the stop we were going to Aiud, had a sign to let us know we were there. (Vik checkd the gps on her phone so we knew it was about where we were, then I heard some saying the name and asked, and all was well.

Whew! Off the bus, met up with Martin and packed ourselves into the 4-wheel drive to go the next half hour to the village where Monica’s grandmother’s farm was Gărboviţa.
Already that morning, the family had been making dough, baked in a proper brick (pizza) oven, still hot when we got there. Smelled gorgeous. We were given some with fresh water from the well. Our fresh bread was filled with cabbage and I think onion (cooked). Home-made cordials, elderflower or apricot. Again, delicious! A wee chat about things, how sustainably the farm was run (more on that later), a bit of the history, where Monica’s grandfather had basically built the farm, also the stove in the kitchen, the cello leaning against the flour stores under the stairs. A very clever man.

To work: While Martin sorted and cleaned up the chanterelles, three of us wiped tomatoes and washed them, placing them carefully upside down (so the water runs off) in a large crate. The other two cut them in quarters, while cutting out the bad bits and the stems. So many tomatoes.
cutting toms
getting fire started

While this went on, Monica’s dad collecting wood (made up of the scraps fallen from trees or while pruning), the big pot pulled out and the fire made to cook the tomatoes. I really liked the guard for the fire, the wing of an old car.

toms cooking
This pot was made in two parts and then almost stitched together, very much like the joints made in wood, a medieval technique. Memory card was playing up so couldn't take any more photos.

Was lovely to be working outside, neighbours wandering in and out. (for what, I’m not sure)

When the first load of toms were boiled , the sieve came out, not like any I’d seen before. This was placed over another pot and slowly the toms were added and the juice pushed through with a double roller system and the inevitable wooden spoon. 
tomato squishing begins

getting instruction
I did quite a lot of the smushing. The residue left was put into another big basin and later this was fed to the chickens. (no waste)
the process
Later on, Monica’s grandmother brought used corn cobs for the fire, obviously stored for the purpose.
cobs to burn

The girls went off with Martin, Monica’s dad and Florian to turn some hay and remove weeds from it. (using pitchforks) Vik and I stayed to finish cutting the tomatoes. A tour of the cellar next and the compulsory taste of the wine, using the cellar cups which were a little larger than the usual glasses. 
barrels, not all empty!

A little tour of out the back, with the chickens and pigs. We also saw one of these naturally round stones, supposed to be lucky.
naturally rounded stone
They consist of  sand, which water containing lime had passed over for years and years, slowly building them up. During high water times in the river they come down and are collected by the villagers and used as a kind of lucky décor. During the tour we hung out with the very little kittens and the calf, so sweet.

out back with the chickens
pigs eye view

 Supper…. and what a feast. The best meal we’d had so far. Simple but full of flavour. An aubergine salad (the same as we had made with Anna before), mushrooms (porcine) cooked and seasoned, potatoes, sauted with flavourings (I forgot to ask what), some of the bread that had been cooked that morning and a really tasty cabbage salad made by grandmother (no-one else is allowed to make it)….oh yes, a little more wine and well water. The meat eaters had a chicken (home reared) dish as well which was highly praised.
hens feeding on tomato scraps

After supper, we tried to do more to help, so we were introduced to their method of washing dishes. The first stage was cleaning off all the scraps of food and rinsing them in a bowl of water. This water eventually went to the pigs if veggie and to the dogs if meat content. Absolutely everything used. Made me feel quite humble to think of how much I do waste. Next, water and a little detergent, washed and rinsed off in another bucket of fresh water, then left to drain on a cloth.

As we hung around, really just chatting and enjoying the surroundings, Monica’s mum came out with the still hot, freshly made tomato juice, celery and seasoning added. It was absolutely gorgeous, I’ve never liked tomato juice but that I could drink lots of.

Martin and Monica returned us to Sibiu, another 2 hours or so but very glad to get to bed.

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