Transylvanian flavors

An infallible sign of spring is that the new seed supply appeared in the local farmers’ shop. This year’s lineup is entirely from Transylvania, the superb assortment of the Agrosel company from Aranyosgyéres/Câmpia Turzii.

Aranyosgyéres (Jerischmarkt, until 1925 Ghiriş-Arieş, later Câmpia/Cîmpia/Câmpia Turdii/Turzii) was a terrible socialist industrial city when I courted there in the 80s. It was mainly the chemical works that vitiated the air: the penetrating odor covered all the main street of Laminariştilor, that is of Rollermen, where the center of the Agrosel company is now standing over the Calvinist church. It is a great news, therefore, if the area became so clean that they can produce and moreover export seeds.

The descriptions of the plants on the bags are printed in five languages, and besides the Romanian and Bulgarian versions the Hungarian one was also made by a native translator. However, what is really special in it is that he or she made it in Transylvanian Hungarian.

Although the most characteristic Hungarian dialects are to be heard in Transylvania, they are strictly oral versions. Educated people exclusively use literary Hungarian in writing, which eventually can differ remarkably from how they would say the same thing. This is one of the reasons why the ten-piece video series Székely language course for Hungarians” of late 2009, offering an amusing introduction to the dialect spoken in the Eastern Carpathians, became so extremely popular over the Hungarian web (for non-Hungarians I especially recommend the lesson on the technical terms of brawl), as an important source of their humor was that many typical terms were seen in it written for the first time. Since that course it is now the first occasion that I encounter in a printed text such characteristic expressions as for example the red pepper “rendre érik be”, ‘growing ripe in an order’, instead of “fokozatosan érik”, ‘growing ripe gradually’ as we would say it in Budapest. Is this publication an isolated case, or rather a first sign of the development of a printed version of the Transylvanian Hungarian volgare?

And the advance of Transylvanian culture is also marked by another element. The bag of the eggplant seeds – and only of these seeds – also includes an users instruction on how to plant and to prepare this characteristic fruit of the Balkans. This is really fitting, as the cuisine of Hungary does not really use this plant, while in Transylvania spiced eggplant cream, vineta is an indispensable part of any breakfast, accompanied by tomatoes, green onion and strong plum brandy. And this users instruction is precisely the recipe of the famous vineta. *

Transylvanian eggplant cream – Vineta

Ingedients: 4-5 medium size eggplants, 3-4 onions, 3-5 cloves or more garlic, 2-3 spoons of lemon juice, 2 deciliters of sunflower or olive oil, salt, pepper.

Before broiling, stab the eggplants a bit to prevent them from exploding. Broil them on a grill above living coal until both sides become coal black: this will give the characteristic smoky taste to the vineta. Take them from the grill and put them in a bowl for half an hour to get cold. Pour the leaking juice off, then cut the eggplants and scoop its flesh out of the skin. If the flesh does not come easily apart from the skin, it means you have not broiled it enough. Pour the lemon juice on the flesh to prevent it from getting brown. Add oil, garlic and onion to it. Instead of raw onion you can also fry it a bit before adding to the eggplant. Mix it all together until it becomes a fine cream. You can add salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste. You can even add mayonnaise [HERESY!] which gives it a softer taste.

It becomes really good on the next day; by then it also gets a bit harder. Serve it on toast.

But even apart from the fascinating texts, the assortment of Agrosel is rich, their photos are nice, and the products on them very promising. By the autumn we will also see how Transylvanian seeds work in a Slovak village next to Budapest.

6 comentarios:

Doug dijo...

here is a presumably Bosnian version of vineta, in English. Is this close to the Transylvanian versions ?

While roaming in search of that receipt, I find that Vineta is also the name of a lost city in the Baltic, the Atlantis of the North. That Vineta was apparently near Wolin which is now Polish, but was German when my forefathers emigrated from it to the Zuurveld (then Ciskei). From there it's a long way back to my wife's Greek recipes for eggplant..

Studiolum dijo...

Yes, basically it is the same recipe. However, there are also some important differences which, I think, must give a distinct flavor to the Bosnian one. In Transylvania they never put vinegar, paprika and sour cream in it, and even olive oil very rarely. On the other hand, they put garlic generously, and what is most important: they roast it above live coal until it gets slightly carbonized outside, so it gets a characteristically rustic taste.

Yes, I know Vineta, the mysterious city, and I have been collecting materials on it. I have even found several 16th to 18th-century maps on which its place was indicated! I want to write about it soon.

Studiolum dijo...

Now I have added a quick English translation to the Transylvanian recipe included.

Canehan dijo...

Curious that the road sign with distances should include a small village on the outskirts of Toulouse. One has to wonder why...

Studiolum dijo...

Clear: as the inscription says, they are oraşe înfrăţite, that is, twin towns of Aranyosgyéres/Câmpia Turzii.

Languagehat dijo...

I'm very much looking forward to the Vineta post; I love lost cities (like Kitezh)!