It was a pretty good idea, I had to give them that. A Dracula themed amusement park in Romania? How could you not want to go to that? But the idea crashed and burned after the discussion of the old forest around Dracula’s castle was to be cut down. But back in 2002, Romania was looking for anything to kick off their economy. During a time when their economy was still suffering from an economic collapse in the 70’s and the fall of their Soviet umbilical cord, Romania was hurting. But now they’ve started to grow, becoming the eighth fasted growing economy in the European Union.
So with all of this in mind, I have to wonder what’s going to happen to the deeply religious, very traditional ideas the country has held onto for millennia. And then I remember that they’re a Balkan country and will be just fine, mostly because they’ve got Țuică. Made up entirely of fermented plums, Țuică is distilled at least twice, though usually more. From there the liquor, which is usually around 100 proof, is either poured into oak casks and aged for six months, making it ‘old Țuică’ or drunk immediately. The clear liquor is usually drunk before eating because of the so called ‘appetite increasing abilities’. Though it is drunk before every meal, that doesn’t mean it isn’t drunk any other time: weddings, wakes, family reunions or any day that ends with ‘y’ is cause to toss back a shot or two.
Said to be sweet, Țuică is not meant to be sipped at all due to the rough alcohol burn. So, okay, Romania has a liquor that they love, so what? No, they loooooooooooooooooove this stuff. As in nearly 75% of the haul from all of their plum orchards are used to make Țuică between October and the end of December, once it becomes too cold to make wine. Țuică is the preferred liquor to toast with and to serve to guests.
So where the hell can you get Țuică? Well there’s Romania and maybe Romania and, oh!, there’s this little bodega in Romania where you can get it. What’s the name of that place? The liquor is so old fashioned it really isn’t sold outside of the country and is more often just distilled in the backyard and kept in a cellar rather than bought at a store. But I have good news! You can get in on the Romanian wine craze that’s developing, which is also usually made with plums as well as grapes.
So the next time you find yourself in Romania, ask around for some Țuică, assuming you don’t have some shoved in your face first. But if you do, give it a whirl; you never know, you might like it.