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Posts Tagged ‘March 9’

Every March 9, in some regions within Romania, folks celebrate the day by making măcinici. The măcinici are different depending on the region… they vary from a pasta-like dough to a bread-like dough. Growing up, my family always made the pasta-like dough (read more about the tradition in an old post).

Since having Julia, exposing her to my childhood traditions have been important and fun. We have also exposed her to the Jewish traditions, which I also love. Julia is curious and seems to enjoy them all, which makes it even more fun.

March 9 fell on a Friday this year. Making anything on a weeknight is challenging, but my mom and I decided to still make them… we could not break the tradition. My mom made the dough and I took a half a day vacation so we can get an early start. Making măcinici is time consuming.

As soon as we rolled the dough into a sheet, Julia insisted that she wanted to use the punch. The punch is not an easy tool… you really have to press it into the dough, wiggle it a bit to release the dough from the rest, and then lift and press the top to release the cutout. She tried a couple of times and got frustrated. My mom and I told her that it was even hard for us to do, but I am not sure if that made her feel better.

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My mom had an idea… she tasked Julia with moving the măcinici from our working area to the towel so that they can dry. Julia thought that it was the best idea! She was even counting them.

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At one point I looked over and Julia was arranging the măcinici in rows… it looked so pretty so we continued the pattern.

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As with any 5 year old kids, she eventually got tired of moving the măcinici over so she abandoned her post. My mom and I continued for a while. After about 2 hours and a few breaks, we were ready to boil them.

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The măcinici are pretty much considered fresh pasta, so just like fresh pasta, once they come to the surface, they are done. To finish them off, we added finely ground and chopped walnuts, lemon zest, cinnamon, vanilla and rum extract, sugar, and a pinch of salt. We boiled it a bit more until the sugar dissolved and then we were done.

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We truly enjoyed our hard work… the măcinici were delicious.

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Măcinici

Măcinici… “What is it?” you ask. It’s a sweet, soupy, cinnamony mixture of goodness. It’s a Romanian tradition. Every March 9th, people across Romania make them to celebrate Saints day. My mom has been making them for years. I have vivid memories of being in our kitchen watching my mom making them and waiting patiently for them to be done. (I guess I have done a fair amount of that over the years.) Although, the tradition escaped our minds for a few years once we moved to America. I don’t know what we were thinking! The tradition is back and here to stay. :)

The recipe is simple but time consuming, typical of a traditional Romanian dish. You make a simple dough using flour, water, and a little salt. You roll the dough, and using a special punch, which my mom brought from Romania, you make numerous figure 8s.

You also have to make 42 figure 1s, which according to my mom, represents the Saints. Also, if you add up the figure 8s and figure 1s, they equal 9, which is why the dish is made on March 9th. Ha!

Next you boil the dough in a fairly large pot of water (at least that is what we do, since we always seem to make a lot of them).

Once the dough is al dente, you add sugar, walnuts, cinnamon, vanilla extract, rum extract, and lemon zest. YUM! The dish is a little better the next day, since the flavors have a chance to blend together and the liquid becomes thicker.

Apparently there are different ways to make Măcinici depending on what part of Romania you live in. For example, in Moldova (the north east part of the country), they are made as small bread-like rolls. While that sounds appealing, I think that my mom’s recipe is the best way to make them. Perhaps I am partial since it reminds me of my childhood. :) I look forward to next year!

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