Monday, 22 June 2009

Transylvania, Kentucky, a Barbeque and a Bottle of Pálinka

What do you suppose the odds are in a tiny Swiss village outside of Geneva, of finding and celebrating a Transylvanian-Kentucky connection? Ha! Well not only did we find it but we turned it into a new tradition - the Transylanian-Kentucky Summer Barbeque.

Ok, to connect the dots...the first dot are my wonderful neighbours Gilles and Ioli who clearly never received the Swiss instruction manual on maintaining a cool reserve toward all foreigners. They are Swiss and Romanian (specifically Transylvanian) and speak French, Romanian and very decent English.

The second dot are a recently-arrived-to-our-village-from Louisville, Kentucky family who moved into the old farmhouse formerly co-occupied by J's favorite clutch of chickens. David is the native-Kentuckian, Lavinia is Romanian (specifically Transylvanian) though she spent many years in Kentucky too. They speak English and Romanian - no French. and have her Romanian-only speaking Grandmother living with them. With me so far?

The last dot are our friends from around the corner Bijoy and Jawahara who are American not-too-recently arrived from California but who were both educated at the University of Kentucky and still have family living in Lexington. They speak only English (plus several other Indian languages). Bijoy has a hankering to go to Transylvania to dig into the history of Vlad the Impaler AKA Dracula. Bijoy's interest was the trigger for our party.

So, last Saturday night, we invited the 3 families including kids, the Romanian-only speaking Grandmother, and Lavinia's Romanian free-spirited father visiting from California over for a barbeque to make merry in 4 languages. We sat outside in the garden sheltered as much as possible from La Bise which was making an unwelcome early summer appearance. We ate classic American/Canadian barbeque including a cherry cobbler made from cherries from our tree and the wine and conversation flowed freely. All that was missing was a Gypsy folk band or a bluegrass banjo.

Gilles introduced a bottle of Pálinka late into the evening. In short, Pálinka is a double-distilled plum brandy and considered the national drink of Transylvania. It is vile, throat-burning, gag-inducing, tongue-loosening, laughter-causing plonk. C2 had 4 of them.

The only downside to the evening? All Romanian eyes rolled when any attempt to discuss Vlad was made. Apparently Romanians view discussing this part of their popular history as distasteful and tiresome. Who knew?

3 comments:

Jawahara Saidullah said...

It was also the most fun (and delicious!) barbecue, what with fantastic food and a cherry tree laden with fruit. Thanks C and C2 for being wonderful hosts. I just smelled the Palinka and it was enough for me. Woooof!

Sher said...

If you ever need an afterdinner speaker whose specialist subject is the Loch Ness Monster you know where to find me.

Sheila said...

I'm loving the description and the connect the dots - what fun! What are the chances in such a small village, huh?