When was the last time you ate buckwheat? Probably not recently, even if you are familiar with the food. And red beet borsch is definitely (և) less familiar to you.
Extremely popular dishes in Ukraine are sometimes found in Romania. The same thing happened with the Ukrainian refugees in two months, because many of them are already here.
Items are different in the Cantina Prieteniei / Idal’nya Druziv, which recently opened for them in the semi-central area of Cluj-Napoca. The traditional cook of the Hot Meal Association, who initiated the initiative, is doubled by an experienced Ukrainian cook who escapes the war.
Chef Ki cooks for Ukrainians in Cluj
Yulia Tsimbalenko (41), a cook by profession, arrived in Cluj on her birthday with her 20-year-old daughter.
He joined the team of the association, just so that the menu offered to the Ukrainians would be adapted to their taste and culinary habits.
He offered culinary assistance at the Cluj train station transit station, but is now a key figure in the recently opened canteen.
“I’m just happy to be able to work here, I have the support of volunteers. I’m glad I can cook for the other refugees, that they get food for free, that he is also a Romanian cook. “We can cook in two styles, ‘at home’ and here, so they can try something new, local,” says Yulia.
He is assisted by another translation by Julia, Turos, a Ukrainian translator in Cluj, a tireless translator for those standing in the city. In fact, he was the one who contacted chef Yulia so that the Ukrainians could have a menu tailored to their taste.
“We do not use paprika in Ukraine as here. Instead, our traditional dish is red borsch or red soup, but the color is obtained with the help of beets. “We also made buckwheat soup, but we want to offer them popular recipes in Romania, a little adapted,” the cook continued.
From buckwheat to silent suffering
“I am eating buckwheat for the first time in two months,” says one refugee excitedly, sitting at a table with his little boy. Comesene has other mothers with their children.
Behind a Woman’s Smile by Zernigau is a drama about visas to Romania. One is from March, the other in April.
“Last month I went to Ukraine to find my husband, he was drafted into the army, I do not know anything about him. I have not found out yet. ” The woman’s testimony falls like lightning որեն obviously not unique.
In the next room, a young man and a young woman are going to taste Ukrainian style dishes.
“In Ukraine we often eat buckwheat, but in Romania we did not even find much, rather in organic shops,” says the 28-year-old. In front is his stepbrother, who turns 18 և this year he will get a high school diploma. They came from Nicholas, one of the cities most badly affected by the war.
“She goes to school online, but in the summer she has to go to Ukraine, somewhere further west, probably to take the exam,” the older sister explains in fluent English.
The idea of a canteen for refugees, especially with a customized menu, enhances their sense of integration.
“We try to live a normal life here, but we can not overcome what is happening at home, we have relatives, close friends, friends who go through dramas,” he concludes.
The dramatic situations hidden in the souls of the table continue their way to the kitchen.
Chef Yulia’s husband and son stayed in Ki, where they are constantly accustomed to air alarms. The man is a reserve soldier, but he has not been drafted yet, but it is not known when this moment may come.
“I stay at home, but when the alarms go off, they immediately take refuge near the pillars,” he said.
“We want to make them feel at home.”
Since the opening of the Friendship Canteen for Refugees, the Chef of the Hot Food Association has changed his place of work from the community canteen, where the NGO continues to bake bread for socially vulnerable people.
“We try to help the refugees feel at home, drive them away from panic and stress. That’s why I cook with a chef from Ukraine so that we can prepare their special dishes, but also a new one so that they can get used to the Romanian style while they are in Romania. ”
Menu sessions are bilingual, with translator Iulia Turos helping chefs reach common ground.
Natural meatballs, which the Ukrainians prepare in a different way, was one of the challenges of the local version, which was launched to the guests.
“The ingredients, the method of preparation is different from the usual, I cooked it in the oven, because they are healthier, they liked it very much. The stew in which we put everything together is eaten differently, with garnish, meat or sauce separately, but here we have good reactions. ”
Ionut speaks next to a tray with goulash, a traditional Transylvanian dish cooked with Yulia ակին tailored to the guests’ tastes.
“I have prepared a Romanian-Ukrainian version, less spicy, because they do not necessarily eat spicy. I used sausage because I prefer it in goulash և in the oven, with all the eggs I have cooked so far, plus the necessary vegetables. ”
He also discovered traditional Ukrainian dishes, from red beet juice-based soup to buckwheat soup.
In the canteen, the cooks and volunteers of the association can prepare up to 300 portions of food, soup և type 2, but for now 50-60 people are constantly eating.
In addition to the two dining rooms inside, dining rooms have been set up outside, waiting for the hot weather.
General mobilization for Friendship Dining
The “Hot Food” Association has been preparing food and road packages for Ukrainian refugees since the end of February in the transit center of the Cluj-Napoca railway station.
The number of refugees arriving here is decreasing, but the volunteers are still present there. They are offered hot meals, tea, double WI-Fi, as well as overnight accommodation.
“Over time, I noticed that the refugees remaining in the city returned to the train station to eat, being a” warm and friendly “area, which welcomed them as soon as they arrived, as they told their volunteer colleagues. Thus, it was necessary to offer them a special area where they will find this atmosphere in suitable conditions for dinner, “explains the president of the association Raymonda Boyan.
This is how the “Friendship” canteen was organized in just three weeks, with more than 50,000 lei being covered by the Cluj municipality. The building also belongs to the municipality, which is managed by Cluj High School.
The cost of used equipment reaches 150,000 lei with the amount supported by the association’s fund.
On the other hand, in the transit center of the railway station, in the canteen of the municipality, the association’s efforts were supported by many other NGOs, but also by local non-governmental organizations under the auspices of Help Ukraine.
The Friendship Canteen opened on December 21, 1989 at No. 128-130, in the Marash district of Cluj-Napoca, in the courtyard of the Public Transport Company headquarters, near Angel Salin High School.
It is open for lunch every day from 2 pm to 6 pm, but the schedule can be extended as needed, say the coordinators of the initiative.