Monday, November 29, 2010

Pickled Tomatoes

Before I came to Moldova, I didn't eat tomatoes. I didn't like them at all.
As I quickly learned upon arriving here, tomatoes are eaten all the time in the summer. They are served at every meal cut up to be eaten fresh. They are put in salads. They are eaten fresh from the garden. They are eaten ALL the time. 
I was at a friend's house the second month of living in Moldova. We were drinking her grandfather's house wine, which was much stronger than any other house wines I had drank, and we were in need of food. There was nothing to eat except tomatoes and bread. My friend made me a tomato sandwich, and it was actually pretty tasty! 
From that point on, I have slowly begun to enjoy tomatoes. Now I can eat an entire tomato; just give me a little salt and I'm good to go.
Along with discovering that I do actually like tomatoes, I've discovered that I LOVE pickled tomatoes. Yes, when I first heard of pickled tomatoes, I was grossed out. But here they like to pickle things (watermelon, apples, tomatoes, and of course cucumbers.) Pickled tomatoes are my favorite food in Moldova. Absolutely LOVE them. 
This last August/September, I had my host mom show me how to make them so I can make them when I get back home. 

Pickled Tomatoes
In a 3 liter jar, put:
-3/4 pieces of garlic
-bay leaves
-1 big spoon salt
-1 big spoon sugar
-3 big spoons vinegar
-3 tablets of aspirin 

Add boiling water to the jar/s and seal shut. Cover the jars for 3 days to make sure the lids are sealed shut.
You can add other seasonings and spices, but these are just the basics. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sports Competition- Go Team Profi!

A week ago on Monday, I was approached by one of the Russian adjunct directors at my school and was told I was going to be participating in a sports competition that would be held on Friday. Later that day, I was approached by the gym teacher who told me that our first practice would be the next day on Tuesday and to bring my sweatsuit and gym shoes. 

I had no idea of what was going on, so I went to my partner teacher who was also going to be in the sports competition, and I asked her what was up. Apparently there would be a big competition in which teachers would go against 11th graders and 9th graders. Huh... ok....

Tuesday after school comes along and I'm there ready with my gym shoes and sweatpants. Natalia, my partner teacher, was also there. Nobody else came for 15 minutes, so the gym teacher decided it would be a good idea to run laps around the gym while we waited. After a few teachers showed up, we started to practice for the competition. It turns out that it was going to be a bunch of relay races, which I figured I could do. After practice, I was told that we would be practicing again the next day after school. I got home later that day and wanted to die. It was more physical activity than I have done in a while. 

Wednesday I skipped practice and slept.... Oops!

But don't worry, because we had practice AGAIN on Thursday after school! We ran through the relays again and figured out who would be in pairs together for the 3 legged race and such. Then the Russian adjunct comes in and tells us to line up. So we line up, and then we start marching through the gym shouting things in Russian. (My school is Russian/Romanian, but all the teachers speak Russian over Romanian, so everything is done in Russian.) 

The day of the sports competition:
Oof. I didn't realize how intense this thing was going to be. The whole school showed up wearing face paint and holding posters and pom-poms for their teams. And the local news showed up... I started to get a bit nervous at this point. 
The three teams all gathered outside the main gym door waiting to go in. The Russian marching music signaled the beginning. We marched in around the gym and ended up in the middle with the three teams making a partial square facing each other. The director spoke and the judges were announced. Then the team captains called out for the team names. 
Teachers: Profi
11th Grade: Favorit
9th Grade: V.I.P.
We all also had to shout out our team slogan, in Russian... I had to get lots of practice on how to say ours, and now I can't get it out of our head. It translated roughly to "We are stars, we never fade, we will forever shine!" After this, we all lined up to get ready for the first relay.

We did a couple relays, and then the dance team came out so the judges could discuss. 

Some of the Relays:
-Dribbling a ball
-Picking up 3 volleyballs at one time and handing them to teammates
-3 legged race
-Running with a partner linked arm in arm and back to back
-Moving a basketball with a hoop
-Popping balloons with some sort of plastic stick thing
-Throwing bean bags in a sack
-Walking with a ball between your legs

And since this was a Moldovan get together/party, the Hora (the national Moldovan dance) was involved. The dance team came out in traditional costume and we all danced the Hora around them. It was pretty awesome. 
 The last competition was a tug of war. First it was teachers vs. 9th form. It was close, but teachers won. Next was teachers vs. 11th form. Also close, but teachers won again. I guess the teachers just rock!

At the end, there were several mini competitions between audience members. One of them was how many times a person could dribble a ball on their knee. Another competition was a free throw basketball competition. The last one was how many times a person could lift a 25 kilogram weight above their head. The gym teacher's son was the winner with 100 times. It was ridiculous.

The winner was announced: Friendship. Yes, friendship. Huh... I guess that works since we all became closer friends and we didn't want anyone to get their feelings hurt. We all got chocolate medallions. After the competition, the teachers all went and had a mini-masa (a celebration). We had pickled watermelon, bread with meat and cheese, chicken, and apples. And please don't forget the wine, champagne, and cognac!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Still Fall! No Snow!

I haven't written in quite a while because nothing super exciting has been happening.
I've been busy with school as usual. This year I'm teaching 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 9th, and 11th grades. Last year I taught up to 9th grade, so it's strange having 11th grade this year. The kids are so much older, and I'm definitely struggling to teach them. My early childhood education degree never prepared me for kids this old! 

Other than school, I'm tutoring several people in English. One of the people I'm tutoring is a woman who owns a Greek restaurant in our town. She pays me with food in exchange for lessons. It's quite a good deal as I love this restaurant! Her husband is from Greece, so they really know who to make Greek food. 

I've also been helping my old tutor teach at her school on Fridays since I don't have lessons on that day. She is an English teacher and pretty much my mom here in Moldova. 
My partner Natalia and I will be starting an English Theater Club. I'm really excited for this, and the kids seem to be, too. We will do a show around Christmas with the 5th form doing a play and the 3rd form singing Christmas carols. I'm hoping we can get the parents involved with making costumes and such. We will also do another show in the spring.

I spent Halloween in my friend Amanda's village. It was nice being in the village, but I don't think I could live there forever. It is definitely more difficult than living in a city. We carved pumpkins with her host cousins and cooked the seeds from the pumpkins. 

It is November 12th, and there is still no snow on the ground! It's crazy! I've never been anywhere where there isn't snow on the ground at this point. But I guess it's the same way back home; mom said she took the afternoon off last week to hang Christmas lights since it was 60 degrees out! It's not quite 60 degrees here, but it's still really nice.

Current Favorites
*Author: James Rollins
*TV Shows: Grey's Anatomy, Glee, Dexter, Little Britain USA (super funny show!!)
*Music: Florence and the Machine

*Craving Dill Pickle Chips!!!