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A nation’s cuisine is always in the heart of its people.  We have noticed that sarmale is Moldova’s sweetheart.  What we might in English call “cabbage rolls”, sarmale are tasty little pockets of stuffing usually consisting of rice, meat, carrots, onions and spices.  These cabbage rolls are actually found all over this part of the world and beyond.  In Russian they are голубцы (pronounced golubtsy), and they have many names around the world; in Russian, Polish, and Lithuanian translating to “little pigeons”.  Perhaps your own mother or grandmother has made a version of these tasty pillows?

I am personally a big fan of sarmale because they are gluten-free.  A lot of the traditional food in Moldova includes flour and there is a lot of bread consumption as well.  So when sarmale is on the menu, I rejoice.  After tasting my coworker Elena’s sarmale at work one day, I asked if she might show us how they are made.  So let’s go on a trip to the Balti Bazaar where we gathered our ingredients, and then to Laela’s apartment, where we combine them all to create an alchemy of awesome flavor!

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Thank you to Natashia Meredith for the beautiful photographs of the day!

Elena Sava is 27 and was born the same day as the great Romanian poet Mihai Eminescu. Her native village is Draganesti, in the Singeredistrict of Moldova, but now she lives in the city of Balti. While she was a student, Elena worked and traveled to England and the USA. Currently, Elena works as a Project Coordinator at “Pro-Business Nord” NGO. During her free time, she enjoys knitting, crocheting, and cooking, and is eager to share her knowledge and experience with others.