Bessarabian Cuisine Lives On

Impressions from a Cooking Course in Wendlingen

Wagner, Tina and Matt, Doris. "Bessarabian Cuisine Lives On." Mitteilungsblatt, February 2011, 5.

Translation from the original German-language text to American English is provided by Alex Herzog, Boulder, CO.

Some were motivated by a desire to get to know their grandparents’ cuisine, some perhaps by a wish to deepen their own knowledge, a group of about twenty interested people met in Wendlingen to participate in a cooking course in November. They spent three evenings hoping to discover Bessarabian cuisine.

Only beginners were expected to participate, but several experienced cooks also attended the cooking course. They took part by accompanying children or grandchildren, and perhaps also to pass on some of their own experience. Also surprising was the fact that nearly a third of the participants were male.

Under the direction of Mrs. Bettina Seitz, whose mother was there in support, old and young were positioned in small groups around the stove. A happy and busy atmosphere accompanied the preparation of Dampfnudln [dumplings], Krautwickel [stuffed cabbage leaves], borsht, and many other dishes. Helpful and friendly cooperation certainly made the process a very pleasant one. The older attendees were clearly taking enjoyment in passing on their own knowledge, and the younger ones were happy to try making familiar dishes from Oma’s personal cuisine.

On the agenda for the third evening was the eagerly expected preparation of Strudeln. Under the patient and careful supervision by the two lady chefs, everyone was kneading, pulling, and rolling up his or her own strudel dough.

At the end of each cooking evening, the participants would consume the culinary delicacies they had prepared, and the results were rather respectable. Some participants were surprised to see that certain dishes they had not liked very much as children, e.g., Käsknöpflesuppe [soup with cottage cheese dough pockets] or Kürbisplatschenten [pumpkin pierogies; placinta is the Romanian word for fried or boiled dough pockets – Tr.] suddenly tasted delicious.

At the conclusion of the course, many participants seriously resolved to cook Bessarabian dishes more often for their own families, but occasionally also for local friends and acquaintances. One of the younger female amateur cooks even decided to change her Christmas list, replacing the wish for a rechargeable wireless drill with one for an electric cooking utensil.  

The Bessarabian dishes involving flour simply had everyone convinced!

Speaking for the course participants, we wish to thank Mrs. Seitz for her performance, for her outstanding dedication, and for three wonderful evenings. With these courses, she is making sure in a convincing manner that the traditional Bessarabian cuisine will live on with the younger generation.

Appreciation is extended to Alex Herzog for translation of these articles.

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