Sunday, November 9, 2008

Cum se face Tuica

Yesterday I had the chance to go to the village again with Tibi. This time he revealed to me the age-old process of making tuica (tzoo-eeka). Usually, tuica is made from plums, but pears or apples can also be used. In fact, just about any type of fruit works, and each gives the tuica a unique flavor. In this case we used grapes, since Tibi had a bunch left over that weren't good enough for making wine.

So, how is tuica made?

Step 1:
Let the fruit--in our case, grapes-- ferment in a big barrel for 6-8 weeks.

Srep 2:
Sprinkle a bit of sand on the bottom of the distiller tank and fill it to the brim with the month-old grape mush.

Step 3:
Put the cover on the tank and seal it so steam doesn't escape during the distilling process. For the sealant, Tibi prepared a glue-like mixture of hot water, flour and wheat chaff.

Step 4:
Light the fire and wait. Tibi gave me nothing more than corn stalks to feed the fire. And, since they burn up quickly, I had to be vigilent and constantly add more stalks (even though wood would have made my job easier, it's too precious to waste on anything but heating the home).

When the tank begins to boil, steam travels through a copper pipe which is routed into a barrel of water (pictured above). The water cools the pipe causing the vaporized alcohol within to condense and dribble into a collecting pot (just like in high school science class, except back then we weren't making alcohol, unless it was 'Bootlegging 101'). The process takes a while, but you know it's time to stop collecting when the tuica starts to taste sour-- at which point it's little more than musty fruit juice.

There you have it, tuica!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

1989 (part 2)

In February I did a post about the Romanian Revolution in 1989. I thought this video would be an appropriate follow-up for those who are interesetd. It's a 36-minute clip taken from a 1990 episode of the Irish news program Today Tonight. Filmed right after the Revolution, it gives a brief overview of the events of the Revolution and offers an interesting perspective on the immediate aftermath.

This clip is relatively long, so it may require some time to load. Also, it flickers a bit for the first minute or so, but things smooth out eventually.