How had I missed that smell, that wonderful garlicky smell?
Last spring I quickly zipped inside the Primavara! Festival at the Presentation of Our Lord Orthodox Church in Fairlawn, finding tables laden with Romanian pastries, crepes, cookies and doughnuts.
Not until I was leaving the church did I see them — rolls of ground meat sizzling on an outdoor grill.
“They’re Romanian street food,” said a member of the church, which was founded by Romanians in 1914.
Mititei (pronounced meaty-TAY) are caseless sausages featuring seasoned ground beef and pork, and often lamb. I like to think of them as mini grilled meatloaves.
Church members will fire up the grill for the savory treats at Saturday’s 10th annual Primavara (the word is Romanian for springtime). Eastern European eats — such as 1,000 stuffed cabbage rolls — won’t be the only stars. The event will boast an international flavor, with a “World Gift Market” and a wine tasting. The parish priest, Ian Pac-Urar, noted that these days “many people in our parish have no Romanian origins.”
Thankfully, the church continues to embrace traditional foods such as mititei, which on Saturday will be served with condiments and bread, much like a hot dog.
In Romania, mititei also are called mici, “which means little things,” Pac-Urar said last week at the church, where he and others had gathered to provide a preview of the festival food. It was the same day that members were making the 1,000 cabbage rolls.
Lore has it that mititei were invented around the 1860s at an inn in Bucharest that one night ran out of its popular sausages. Those in the kitchen quickly used leftovers to make the skinless sausages, grilling them on charcoal, according to Romanian food expert Nicolae Klepper.
There are many different ways to make mititei. “Some people get hot under the collar about it,” said church member Sally Shantz, chuckling. Shantz oversees the wine tasting, held in a picnic shelter on the church grounds.
The church’s mititei recipe, printed below, calls for summer savory; other recipes call for different seasonings, such as paprika, cumin and caraway seeds. Church member Doina Moldovan said some people like a lot of garlic, while other cooks include oregano.
She said the meat mixture for the mititei will be prepared Friday, the day before the festival. That way the flavors can meld overnight.
Father Pac-Urar — or Father Ian, as church members call him — said the festival allows church members “to share ourselves with the community, and we get to have a common task and have social time together.”
Saturday’s menu includes scoverzi (doughnuts), cornulete (nut- or jam-filled cookie) and clatite (Romanian crepes). Along with the recipe for the mititei, we’re including one for the clatite. They are a little thicker and less fragile than the classic French crepe.
3 lb. ground beef
3 lb. ground pork
½ cup bouillon (some recipes call for beef broth; some prefer a low-sodium bouillon or broth)
½ tsp. baking soda
1 clove garlic, mashed with a pinch of salt and some of the bouillon
1 tsp. summer savory
Salt and pepper to taste
A day ahead, combine all ingredients well and refrigerate.
Roll into small sausage shapes, about ? lb. each. Grill, taking care not to overcook and dry out the meat. Serve with slices of bread and your choice of condiments.
Makes about 30 mititei.
Clatite (Romanian crepes)
? cup flour
1½ cups milk
2 tbsp. butter, melted
In a medium bowl, beat all ingredients together until smooth. Refrigerate 2 hours or more, covered.
Brush a heated crepe pan with butter or oil. Pour ¼ cup of batter into the pan. Tip the pan to spread the batter until it coats the bottom of the pan. Cook about 2 minutes or until the batter appears to set and the underside is lightly browned. Turn or flip the crepe and cook another half-minute to just lightly brown the second side.
Clatite can be kept warm in an oven until served. Serve hot with your choice of fillings, such as jam or fruit. Crepes can be frozen.
Makes about 24 clatite.
Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her @KatieByardABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/KatieByardABJ.