I’m filing this under “blog бизнес” because I want to remind myself to finish up a piece I’ve been working on, a one-page survival guide to this country. Obviously my entire blog (almost) is a tour slash survival guide but I wanted to get the most essential basics down in one place in a short format.
Other than that, the rest of this post will be “personal” as The Woman and I roamed around Cluj this weekend and I thought I’d write about a bit so you can kind of get a feel of what this country is like.
Friday night we went to the apartment of one of The Woman’s work colleagues as she (the colleague) was leaving her job so it was kind of a “goodbye party” situation.
There was a laptop in the room where we were congregating and someone cued up YouTube and put on one of the most hilarious clips I’ve seen in a long time. If you speak even the most elementary Spanish, click on the link.
As the drinks started to take effect, I began to do my traditional “sneaky DJ” routine wherein I, the person supposed to be a foreigner, hijack the music situation and start putting on drinking songs in Romanian such as this one. Hee hee!
Me being the DJ playing such songs (including this one) always makes Romanians’ heads explode. In fact this is the exact sequence:
- Jaw flops open in astonishment that I even know that song
- Then they can’t believe I like it; because
- they certainly don’t like it, no way, hell no, definitely not! But…
- everyone’s been drinking and someone in the back pipes up that the song isn’t that bad
- Mass dancing ensues :D
Oh yeah and the last step is I cackle like an escaped mental patient :P
Saturday morning The Woman and I went to the mall in Cluj to see a heavily-promoted event called “Outdoor Cooking Championship”, which was barely anything more than a kind of low-rent “county fair”. There were tents grilling meat, livestock in pens to gawk at and even a circus, complete with elephants.
We rode the bus to the festival (held in the mall’s parking lot) and literally every single kid started shouting out, “elefante, elefante!” as the circus came into view :P
Since I have a pathological hatred of clowns and find circuses rife with animal cruelty, we passed on that. Aside from gaping at a goat with super Satanic horns and a fat, grunting, hairy brown pig, we didn’t see much of note. The Woman did get a super photo of some very traditional mamaliga being cooked but I don’t have that picture at the moment so I’ll post it later.
Inside the mall however was the main attraction, for me anyway, which was the opening of a gigantic store called Decathlon (in French). It’s like a Wal-Mart sized version of a sports slash camping store.
I sound like I’m getting paid by these bastards to advertise for them but I swear I’m not. I also don’t want to downplay the thousands of amazing gadgets and camping gear and horseback rider stuff but by far the best part was the thousands of young, hyper kids swarming around the store.
Because this store just opened literally this week, it was jam packed. And apparently they don’t mind if you a) jump on the trampoline b) bounce balls around c) play indoor golf d) play with the hula hoops AND e) ride bicycles and scooters around inside the store, it was a complete madhouse. It was like some rioters broke into a very well-stocked gym and went nuts.
Hell, The Woman and I were even throwing a Frisbee around down one aisle :P Total bedlam in there and super fun. I think I would’ve paid 5 lei just to be let in this “park”.
Sadly we missed the one part of the cooking championship that literally every single Romanian in the city of Cluj wanted to see, an event billed as “Cooking 210 Chickens In One Pan“! Wow!! Let’s put six or seven exclamation points!!!
The reason why Romanians were so excited to see this (beyond the Guinness Records aspect) was that if you were in attendance during this “amazing feat”, you could eat the chicken afterwards for FREE. I should highlight that and make it bold and red – FREE FOOD.
Nothing, and I mean nothing, will get Romanians more excited than free food. I opined that perhaps 210 chickens all fried on one gigantic pan might not be of the absolutely highest quality in terms of careful attention but the thought of free chicken trumped all other considerations :P
BTW just on a personal note, isn’t the chef’s name absolutely awesome? The only thing weird about that photo above is how the 210 chickens event is “powered by” him. Although we tragically didn’t get to see this world record being made, I saw a clip online and there were about 50 cooks helping out the maestro.
The “pan” was just a gigantic, square cookie sheet (in essence) with the barest of lips at its edge. An army of white-suited chefs with shovels were busy flipping and dipping the sizzling chickens around. Behind the chefs, packed as densely as sardines in a can were thousands of people, their faces all grinning in anticipation at free meat.
Of course if you were a chicken watching that (or perhaps a squeamish vegetarian), it was quite a ghastly sight. On the other hand, yay my town got to be involved in a record that will live on in the memory of all trivia-obsessed nerds. And who knows, one day I may be in some run-down bar in a remote corner of the planet, playing a pub game about obscure trivia and a question will come up about the town where 210 chickens were cooked in one pan.
Why not? Weirder things have happened :P