Around the World in 80 Plates, Physical Activity, Recipes

Around the World in 80 Plates: Chișinău, Moldova

Yes, Moldova is a real place! It isa small country in eastern Europe next to Ukraine and Romania, between the Prut and Dniester rivers, and almost reaches the Black Sea. Captain Create is here to try a dish called Mamaliga, play a bit of football or rugby, and to check out the historical architecture of the area. The capital city is Chișinău  (KISH-ih-NOW) and it is in the middle of the country. Chișinău is also the center of the country’s industry, art, and culture in the country. It is home to museums, universities, and lots of interesting architecture from as far back as the Ottoman Empire!

The name Moldova is derived from the Moldova River; the valley of this river served as a political centre at the time of the foundation of the Principality of Moldavia in 1359. Due to its location, this area has had many names and been invaded, taken over, ceded, and finally declared its independence in 1991, and adopted its own constitution in 1994. Many of the buildings in the cities and towns of Moldova show this historical activity with Ottoman architecture (as early as the 14th century) to the housing blocks that were built when the USSR had control of Moldova until World War II. Modern buildings and skyscrapers have been build in the cities, along with museums, universities, and libraries. If you ever get the chance to go there, check out how all the building styles are a bit different, and see if you can find the oldest one (it was built in 1752)!

Football is a top sport in Moldova, much like the rest of Europe’s obsession with what we call soccer. Kids and adults also play rugby, and many participate in Trîntă, which is a form of wrestling and also the national sport of Moldova. The winner in Trîntă gets a loaf of bread! After all that work, some whole grains are sure to bring back all the energy those athletes need!

Moldovan cuisine is similar to that of Romania, and has been influenced by elements of Russian, Turkish, and Ukrainian cuisine, as well as the geography and mild seasons and weather. They use a lot of vegetables like cabbages, potatoes, and even wrap foods in tasty grape leaves. They also eat beef and port, as well as grains like corn and wheat. One traditional and famous dish is Mamaliga, made with cornmeal.

This simple and whole grain dish is made all over Moldovia and everyone’s family has their own version, which means you can create your own too! You can top this Mamaliga with roasted meat, cheese, sour cream, or serve it as a side to other dishes. Some families cut it with a knife, but others have been known to use a piece of cotton thread to cut through the loaf, which gives it nearly perfect cuts.

Try out this recipe, and don’t worry if it sticks to the bottom of the pot a bit at the end; you can always scoop out what is left in the pot and add it to the loaf!

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