#168: Moldova

“Kisses are a better fate than wisdom” – E.E. Cummings

Yeah, I know it’s sappy. I also give exactly zero damns about it. I had my first Valentine’s Day date EVER and it was perfect. So I’m basically on cloud nine a whole lot of the time these days. I’ve turned into that gushing, ridiculous girl that last year me would have rolled her eyes SO hard at. I’m not even sorry, only letting you all know that it’s now a thing and I’m now a thing… and I’m smitten AF. So to all you people out there that think (slash downright know) that I’ve done lost the remainder of my marbles: “There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness.” I guess my man, Nietzsche, really understood a girl. Now let’s all just lose our minds and find our souls!

THE DINNER: Similar cuisine to Romanian and eastern European nations of the same, the food of Moldova features beef, pork, potatoes and cabbage. Our sweethearts in check, our sweet tooth needed some loving too. For this reason, we picked Cusma Lui Guguta. This is a crepe style cake that is filled with tart cherries. It’s like a Swiss roll meets black forest pancakes dressed up with some vanilla creme… it’s all light and fluffy and sour.

There’s quite a lot of symbolism and folklore with this week’s dish. Allow me to extrapolate. The shape of the cake is like a hat. It’s based on a children’s character naked Guguta that is taught in many primary school lessons, and wears a pointed hat like the shape of this cake. The closest thing I can compare it stateside is the hungry caterpillar cakes that are popular with grade school parties. Anyway, it’s endearing and charming and reminds people of childhood; so it’s beloved in Moldova.

Cusma Lui Guguta Recipe: http://www.fantezieinbucatarie.ro/2011/10/cusma-lui-guguta.html

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: 10 STARS out of 5 this meal!
Was it in Romanian? Yes, indeed, it was. Was it tricky to make all the individual swiss rolls? You guessed it, yes it was. This one was a whole lot of patience… 4 hours + worth of patience in fact. And it took two days. And it was a total “shit show”– but all that aside, there were no strange ingredients and we were able to actually make the damned thing… so if you’re in it for some free time to burn, you’re absolutely going to be able to tackle this one like Von Miller (6’2″ sack monster).

Best dish of all time scale: 4.75 STARS out of 5 for Meal!!
We had some guest judges for this one, guys, so hang ten for the reviews. At family dinner on Sunday night, we all were able to dig into this one. It was a truth universally acknowledged that it was delicious and beautiful. We wanted it to be more something… boozey? Sweet? Chocolatey? All in all, it was flaky and tart. It was sour creamy and it was definitely smooth thanks to the homemade whipped cream. It wasn’t a black forest cake, nor was it was cherry pie. It fell into this odd middle ground and for that it earned it’s score. Not quite a pie, not quite a cake… not quite a 5 star.

Next posting will take us into #169  which makes this 26 countries from the end! That country will be Equatorial Guinea and after this cold snap we are in, it’s going to be a welcome vacation! I’ll be in New Mexico, but L has this one wrapped up solo like the bossy that she is!

Happy Valentines, lovers! 
– L & K

 

#167: Qatar

Time flies when you’re having fun!

Hey friends, if you hadn’t noticed, we are already 1/12th of the new year down and it’s flying by because we are certainly having a blast. With our shortest month underway, it’s no surprise that February seems to be a favorite month around these parts. What’s not to like? Munching on chocolate and Eskimo kissing sweethearts; cursing till you’re blue in the face at the Pats during Superbowl Sunday; Mardi Gras parades and stout month all rolled into a nice 28 day package. From start to finish, this traditionally is one month that packs a serious punch. Don’t blink– you’ll miss it for sure.

THE DINNER: We ventured from our frozen stateside hideaways to the Middle East to rack up number 167 this weekend– Qatar! Now, to be honest and fair, this is one country I ALWAYS pronounce incorrectly. “Cut-ur” is how it’s said and yet I’m that annoying person that calls it “cay-tar” **insert eye roll here**

Some fun facts I learned about Qatar this week:

  • Qatar will host the men’s World Cup in 2022
  • Qatar National Sport Day celebrated on the second Tuesday of February (which is tomorrow, guys)
  • Qatar’s per capita GDP is $127,600… all those natural-gas and oil reserves, I suppose.
  • One of the top 20 most obese nations
  • Male to female ratio is two to one
  • Most urbanized nation in the world, with 99% of the residents stating they live in a city

Like any warm blooded Middle Eastern state, this one loves lamb. So that’s exactly where we took our pots and pans! To the batmobile in search of a lovely Qatar Lamb recipe!

Qatar Lamb Ribs with Mint Relish: https://www.donnahay.com.au/recipes/dinner/slow-cooked-lamb-ribs-with-mint-and-malt-vinegar-relish

 

OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: ONE STAR out of five this meal!
No trouble here. In point of fact, it was pretty much a cake walk (lamb walk?). Ingredients were a cinch and the whole process was low and slow, set it and forget it kind of business.

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR and A HALF STARS out of five for Meal!!
I don’t care what yuppie you reference, anyone and everyone will tell you that lamb pairs with mint (and a cold American Pale Ale or Old Ale, but you didn’t ask me that). This anachronism held true– mint and lamb go together like Laverne and Shirley. There was a staggering amount of malt vinegar on these babies… and while that stuff most certainly smells like feet, it tasted like heaven. The vinegar broke down the meat in such a lovely way. I realize that lamb ribs are often called “lollipops” and this really settled in with me– I could have just pulled it off the bone like a sucker. It was everything moist, tender and juicy. The mint relish was not overpowering and I commented that in essence we could have substituted honey for the brown sugar/malt vinegar duo and the mint with cilantro and achieved a very similar taste profile. All in all this was a great Sunday lunch.

I’m not sure what February has in store for you all, but we are headed to #168 with a little visit to Moldova! This will mean a little pre-Valentine’s Day food loving and whole lot of pre-Mardi Gras partying (including a little beer review outing with Maggie to Call to Arms for their Mardi Gras)

Happy Those DAMN Pats Lost!
Well Played, Eagles!

– L & K