I’ve talked a lot about how much I admire the Romanian people and their dedication to enjoying and relaxing in nature. It’s easy to see why – the landscape here is absolutely gorgeous, the weather is mostly temperate, and apartments are small. So it makes sense that if the conditions are right, you would want to be outside. You can see people grilling out everywhere. Literally right on the side of the road or by the train tracks. Anywhere you can make an open fire, you can grill.
Last weekend, we headed out with a group of friends to the nature (Piatra Craiului) to do some grilling and hang out in the sun. We were carried with us the necessities – hammocks, coolers full of Beck’s, and our huge cast iron grill.
We arrived and the first item of business was to hang our hammocks and make sure our drinks stayed cool. The creek we were next to was plenty cold, so together we collected rocks and made a dam. I have seen this done at other grills – those who don’t have enough rocks for a dam put their drinks in a small trash bag and leave them in the water for a while. It’s pretty ingenious, actually. I’m sure some people do this in America, but I’ve never seen it. We tend to spend a lot of money on coolers and ice.
We put a big blanket in the shade and lounged around talking. We turned up our music because our grilling neighbors were blasting manele, and we all know manele is practically ear cancer.
At some point, I fell asleep. The sun was warm and I’m always sleepy, so it was bound to happen. When I woke up, the fire had been started for the grill and food was starting to be prepared.
We had lots of different kinds of meat. In Romania, this is called a mixed grill. There’s pork, chicken breasts, sausages, and mici. Mici is like little rectangle hamburgers if hamburgers were made from beef, pork, and (sometimes) lamb. With mustard, they’re pretty good. People here love mici, but I’m still learning to like them. Potatoes were peeled and chopped, the salad of tomatoes and bell peppers was prepared, and the grilling was ready to commence.
The first thing they did was put bacon on the top of the grill. This way the fat from the bacon went down the grill into the bottom part with the potatoes. Who needs PAM when you have bacon grease? The mixed grill meat was put somewhere in between. Thus, the circle of life was complete. The bacon fat helped to cook the other meats and somewhat fried the potatoes. We ate everything in about five minutes and life was good.
After the sun went down, a guitar was produced and we built the fire up. We sat around the fire singing songs until it got very cold. The stars were amazing. It looked like there were clouds in the sky, but that was just the milky way. I’m not sure I’d ever seen that before. I wonder how much more I would’ve seen if I hadn’t been by the fire.
In summary, I had a great time just hanging out – no electronics needed. Just sun, fun, and friends. I hope I can get into grilling more when I return to America.