Today I had a unique and fun experience. With my host family, I was invited to eat at my host mom’s friend’s house. I was excited to get to see someone else’s house and to reconnect with this lady, as I had met her on several occasions. When we arrived to the house, I witnessed meat being smoked. This is what Moldovans call frigarui (Bar-B-Que). I have yet to be apart of any Bar-B-Ques that I didn’t like.
I always wonder what makes these celebrations so enjoyable? I pondered this question for a little while and came up with a few answers: the food, the atmosphere, and the people. In addition to the many types of smoked meat, there is usually salads, and depending upon the season, fruits and vegetables. Everything is fresh and natural. Today, there was also what I’m calling a special sauce, mainly because I do not know what it was. It consisted of tomatoes and peppers and reminded me of homemade ketchup. It smelled heavenly and had a rich taste- it was slightly sweet but with a little hot kick in it. It was all very delicious.
The atmosphere made it enjoyable too. We started outside, taking in the autumn sun. Then we went inside and ate at a large table. I’ve come to realize though, that almost anywhere in Moldovan would be welcoming for this type of celebration.
Finally, the people: I have had Bar-B-Que’s with my host family, with other host families, Peace Corps Volunteers, and now a new set of friends. Today’s group consisted of myself, 2 Armenian-Americans (born in Armenia, but living in America for the last 20 years or so), and 9 Moldovans. Collectively half a dozen languages could be spoken within the group. I’m not sure when this feeling will wear off, but I’m always fascinated with the fact that most Moldovans know at least two languages, if not more. What made today even more unique was that the other Americans didn’t know Romanian so they spoke Russian to everyone else and there was limited language issues with everyone. (Of course, they spoke English to me since I only know a few words in Russian). Despite this being my first time meeting many people there, I felt so welcomed. I might say this a lot, but I feel so fortunate to be in such a welcoming and kind community. In the future, I will definitely talk more about my community and the people that make Moldova so special to me.
This Bar-B-Que and the few others I have attended might seem like small, even insignificant gatherings, but, for me, I’ll always remember them as so much more. And I think as a Peace Corps volunteer, that’s what matters. There are many celebrations and events I have attended and will attend, but these small gatherings are where most of my memories will be made. And for that, I am ever grateful.
Oh look at the time! 100 de Moldoveni au zis (basically like Family Feud) game show is on and it looks like it’ll be a good one tonight. So for now, la revedere and as always, enjoy a cup of joe.