I've had an exciting day today! Got up early to get the bus to my new wwoofing place. Its about an hour north of wellington and the family I'm staying with is Romanian. They have chickens, a few sheep, and orchard, bees, grape vines and a large vegetable garden and greenhouse. They also have a restaurant which serves traditional Romanian food. So I arrive and given a tour of the house and told that there is no food in the kitchen, that it is all in the restaurant and Dragos, the owner, says to settle in the come over to the restaurant for breakfast. After unpacking I went over and he was working in the office but stopped to show me around. They have a small commercial kitchen where they make bread and cheese from scratch, as well as a wood burning stone pizza oven. Bread is cooked about 80% and stored in the fridge, then baked daily in the pizza oven, with the residual heat from the night before. Then he showed me the fridge, a walk in chiller with one shelf for the family and the rest for customers. The pantry had large tupperware containers of flour, spices, chocolate, sugar, olive oils and other things which for mist people sit at the back of cupboards and forgotten about. The freezer has boxes of herbs from the garden, chopped up and frozen, and traditional Romanian meals, cooked in large batches and frozen in individual portions for customers. Its a very very good business plan, top quality ingredients from your own property with a few extras bought in, pre-cook top quality tasty meals and do pizza. It's not exactly a la carte but it works for them. I had fresh bread, home made fig jam from the tree outside, and home made cottage cheese for breakfast.
Then I went and explored the property and then helped Dragos pull up some trees. I got to drive a tractor!!! Just put it in gear and it goes, no need for a break and accelerator. With a car you need to feel for the biting point, and you can start the car without gas by holding it on the bite point then slowly slowly lifting your foot of the clutch but with a tractor theirs no biting point, it just goes in hear and stops in neutral. We pulled the trees up and Dragos was very impressed that I taught him a new knot, the timber hitch (learnt at pam and dave's) which made it easier to drag the bigger trees out.
Then I went and had lunch and chatted to Carmen. I had more bread with a traditional Romanian vegetable spread. Then we had to get ready as Dragos' brother, Ramus, and his family were coming over for dinner as it is Ramus's birthday soon. They were bringing stuff for a BBQ and Carmen freaked out when she found out they were bringing shop-baught cole-slaw, she just didn't get why you wouldn't by a cabbage instead and make it! I suggested we make potato wedges then I cooked them in the pizza oven (still unlit as the restaurant is closed on a monday) and they cooked!!! it was still hot enough a day later to cook potatoes, it took less than an hour. Dragos's mother, sister and his brothers family turned up with more food. Sauerkraut and a jar of pickled veges, taramasalata, and the dreaded shop bought cole-slaw. They shop at Moore Wilson's!!!! Thats one of the few supermarkets they trust and where you get good food from and were impressed that I had worked there. They also eat very seasonally, with fresh veg in the summer and preserves in the winter, like the sauerkraut and pickled veg (carrots, coli flower, onions, garlic, celery and tomatoes). They were all speaking Romanian as well, it was just a big loud family gathering with lots of food! I have always hated sauerkraut, the smell of it on my g-ma's back porch has always put me off, but I tried it to be polite and it was actually very nice tastes way different to how it smells. And I've seen pickled veg in the Czech Republic before, so that wasn't knew to me. We all started eating the appitizer bits while the men BBQ'd, then the things for the main got laid out and people just carried on eating. Eventually everyone sat down, said a prayer, then carried on eating. Carmen said thats what happens, if there is food to eat and she told me the rule is if we say 'you can't have this, its for the restaurant' then don't eat it but otherwise help yourself. Mind you not a lot seems to be for the restaurant. It was just lots of shouting in Romanian, but the children don't speak it and Anke, the younger sister will speak English to her family but they will talk Romanian to her. Her mother yelled at her for eating the cole-slaw cos she doesn't like the chemicals used in the shops, but she said 'I'm 24, I'll eat what I want' (her brothers are in their 40's so she still gets treated like a baby).
Then the home-made wine came out, and the home made grappa. I have a very funny story about my mother and grappa in Italy but she'll be in trouble with G-ma when she reads it. We were on holiday in and became very friendly with the manager of a local restaurant and on our last night he gets out bottle of grappa and joins us, pours me and livvy a glass (I think I was about 18 and she was 15 but I can't remember) as we had been drinking the wine all night. We both smelt it and didn't like it but Mum insisted on us drinking it. My parents never gave me spirits and here she was telling us we had to be polite and try the mans grappa, when Liv was under-age!!! Anyway this grappa was much nicer, not as strong and didn't burn your insides like paint stripper!
So it seems these people eat a lot, but no processed food, no chemicals, no pasta sauces filled with loads of sugar and salt, and no junk food. Home made brownies with chicken eggs from outside are as bad as it gets.