We’re not likely to do much today as it will be so hot but this evening we will meet up with the former ‘county inspector of history’ who had and has a high regard for Petronela as a teacher and has now become a friend. She wanted to meet in an excellent restaurant “to eat fish”; we agreed to the location but will settle for an icecream or sweet of some kind. As I said on my Facebook ‘diary’ yesterday, I did nothing of note so it seemed a good idea to write another post on grumpytyke after about a week here in Iași.

A picture of some small carp in a bowl, prepared for cooking

Small carp

Today many Romanians will eat fish. A high proportion of the Romanian population are practising Orthodox Christians so follow rules of ‘post’ (ie , fast) laid down by the church and today is a day on which they can eat fish but not meat.

Post (fast) in Orthodox Romania

When I first came to Romania I lived for six months with a Romanian family and although something different would have been cooked for me I preferred to go along with whatever they were eating so became used to not eating meat on Wednesdays and Fridays and for longer periods at certain times of the year (eg pre Easter, and now). As it seemed a good idea, for health reasons, not to eat meat for a couple of days a week, and for longer periods a couple of times a year or so, I’ve followed this ever since and having a ‘schedule’ makes it easier though I don’t do it for religious reasons. In fact, according to the rules of  ‘post’ it’s not a matter of not eating meat but of not eating animal products, so ‘vegan’. We don’t do this; we often eat eggs, cheese etc on ‘post’ days but sometimes ‘vegan’ meals, eg a kind of ‘baked beans’, ‘borș cu fasole’ – bean borsch, or ‘tocănița cu cartofi’ – potato stew, which are three favourites of mine.

Pește, fish

There’s not a day each week when it’s ‘allowed’ to eat fish but in periods of post there are days where eating fish is allowed and today is such a day. So, as Petronela’s mother follows post pretty strictly today we have fish on the menu. However, because most Romanians (at least in this part of the country) will eat fish today it was difficult to acquire it unless you’re an angler. So Petronela’s father stood in a queue for 1.1/2 hours in the market yesterday to buy the preferred fish – carp.

The carp bought yesterday are extraordinarily small (see picture). I’m more used to them weighing several kg but none larger were available.

(As an aside, I was amused when UK anglers were horrified when east europeans expected to eat the carp they caught. Equally, the east Europeans  were perplexed by UK anglers putting back the carp and other fish they caught; it seemed a pointless activity).

In the UK we usually eat fish on Tuesdays. There’s no link with the church in that, it comes from my ‘honorary grandmother’ in the Bucovina, but that’s another story. Again, having a schedule ensures we eat fish at least once a week.

Mujedei (garlic ‘sauce’)

Obligatory with fried carp is a raw garlic sauce, ‘mujedei’ (pron mooj-day’). This can be simple crushed garlic with water, with sunflower oil, with milk, with a combination of the latter two, or other variations. I prefer it simple with oil, particularly as carp, like tuna, is more like a beef steak with little fat.

To accompany the carp we’ll have ‘mămăliga’ – a kind of cornmeal hash similar to ‘polenta’ but far better if made with the cornmeal from the countryside here; I think this is because a proportion of ‘tăriță’ (chaff) is left in it and probably also because it it is grown on the smallholders’ lots so truly ‘organic’ – a ridiculous term but you know what I mean. (Big Romanian food producers or Western invaders have invented a new one, applied to many packaged, branded foods which, of course, have preservatives, etc: ‘Bio’ is now plastered over packets of such products – more crap!)

Crap

Crap in Romanian is, of course, carp in English, a source of great amusement to Petronela’s students in the UK and to my fishmonger in Leeds Kirkgate market where I buy it, particularly for New Year when it is a traditional Romanian dish. His come from France so not as good as those from Romania, but OK.

WordPress app “beautiful new editor”

I’ve always ignored the WordPress suggestions to use the “improved” editor or the WordPress app. They have always been crap (in the English sense) compared to the traditional desktop version so I use that on both the Macbook and the iPad (as now). Most recently there was a notification that the app had a “beautiful new editor” (or was it “lovely”?) so I had a quick look.

Again complete crap!

In my experience, apps are almost always rubbish compared with the desktop versions, including Facebook, with the exception of Messenger which works very well. The Twitter app is also good. Of course many of the small specialised apps, for which there is no desktop equivalent, are very good. An example is a thermometer app which I’m using to report temperatures on my daily Facebook ‘diary’ – Dusty2Romania.

If the day ever comes when WordPress withdraw the traditional editor interface, as they once threatened to do but relented after a scream of protest from long-term bloggers, I will look for another platform or cease blogging altogether.

Why so many developers insist on fixing things which ‘ain’t broke’ I don’t know; maybe they have scores of programmers sitting around with nothing to do.

This simple recipe comes from Romania. Neither my wife nor I are vegetarian, and have no reservations about eating meat, but we don’t eat meat on Wednesdays or Fridays. I don’t do this for any religious reasons, but it comes from the Orthodox Church in Romania, which decrees that most Wednesdays and Fridays are days of ‘post’, that is ‘fast’. On such days animal products should not be eaten (or drunk), so if followed correctly it is vegan not vegetarian.

New potatoes with garlic in a 'ceaun'

New potatoes with garlic in a ‘ceaun’

I got used to it as I lived in a region in Romania where about 70% of the population regularly attend (the Orthodox) church, so there’s no meat on the table on the days of ‘post’. I came to believe that this ‘rest’ from meat was beneficial (I’m now quite certain this is so – it fits in with my ideas that it is very beneficial to eat everything, but each in moderation) and having a set two days means you take this rest ‘religiously’ (we also eat fish on Tuesdays, for even more obscure reasons, but again it ensures we have fish once a week). Adhering to this ‘rule’ does not prevent us eating ‘veggie’, or fish, on other days if we feel like it.

So the simple recipe, which works best with smallish new potatoes:

Heat some oil (sunflower oil in Romania but others are OK of course – just avoid those laced with chemicals as are all the fiercely promoted ‘margarines’) with some butter in a thick-bottomed pan. The Romanian one you see above is known as a ceaun (that’s cha-oon), made by Romanian gypsies. Tip the washed potatoes – don’t peel or scrape them – into the oil, stir up so that all the potatoes are coated, and add a lot of peeled garlic cloves (there are about 20 in the pot shown but these are brought back from Romania – very strong – so you might need more of those bought in the UK). Cover tightly and leave on a very low light. Stir up from time to time.

Because the potatoes are steaming in their own moisture it takes longer than you might think until they are cooked; reckon at least an hour – test by sticking a knife in; when done just keep them hot till you’ve done whatever else, they won’t spoil. Towards the end grind over some salt and black pepper and stir up.

They are really delicious; make more than you need for the meal because they are great cold too.

Served simple with steamed green vegetables

Served simple with steamed green vegetables

Eat them with some of your ‘five a day’; various steamed green vegetables as seen here are good (with some of the oil/butter mixture from the ceaun poured over – if you’ve been brainwashed by the cholesterol nonsense go for a run), so are sauteed mushrooms, or a mixed salad. You can, of course, make them part of any meal, with meat or fish.

As I said, I am a carnivore. I really like meat and fish and have no qualms about eating anything – I’ve eaten hedgehog, dog, and very strange things from the sea. All were delicious. And, in view of the recent controversy, I’ve eaten horse – very tasty and I’d gladly eat it again.