The Evening I Tried Ciorba de Burta (Stomach Soup)

Many people know that I spent eight years in Romania..  Ciorba de Burta (pronounced: chorba de burta) does literally mean stomach soup. It is made of the stomach of a cow, and amazingly enough with no thanks to the name, it tastes good.  When I was in Romania, is was hard to find food that didn’t taste good.  If you look through my blogs, there are several recipes from Romania, and I can guarantee if you try them, you will like them, but I never learned how to make this soup.  The evening I first tried this soup, though, was an extremely memorable evening.  It was New Year’s Eve.  Some people who lived down the street from us in the village had suggested they make some ciorba de burta and bring it for us to try on New Year’s Eve, and we agreed.  They didn’t have a car, so my husband thought he should take the car and go bring them since they were nice enough to bring us soup.  He made a mistake as he left the house.  We usually kept our door locked, but he didn’t lock the door, and it caused what ensued next.

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I was alone in the main part of the house.  My kids were downstairs watching TV.  A group of gypsies came to the house.  They were completely dressed in all their gypsy garb, the women with long beautiful dresses, braids on either side of their heads, lots of jewelry, and head-scarfs and the men in their dark clothing and black hats.  The men were carrying goats heads on sticks. One of the women was carrying a tambourine.  They let themselves into the house. There were steps at my front door that either went up or down (my own invention, not a Romanian invention).  They came up the steps and found me in the living room/kitchen area of the house alone.  They were a noisy bunch!  They were yelling, shaking the tambourine, and running back and forth.  They began running at me with the goat’s head on the stick.  I don’t scare often, but I was scared.

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They began demanding that I give them money.  I actually had no money to give them.  My purse was almost empty, and I told them I didn’t have any money. They didn’t believe me.  I got out my purse and opened my wallet and showed them I only had 1.000 lei which is about one dollar, and I gave it to them. I opened up the change compartment of my wallet and gave them all my change.  They kept demanding more, but I had to tell them I didn’t have anymore.  I was scared. They just kept screaming and running at me with the goat’s head.

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I thought quickly, “What could I do that would satisfy them to make them go away?”  It was New Year’s Eve.  We had had Christmas just a week before.  I still had lots of Christmas cookies left.  I grabbed the Christmas cookies and gave them Christmas cookies.  They loved them!  They each took several cookies, smiled, and left.  My cookies had saved the day!

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As soon as they were outside, I ran and locked the door.  When my husband came back with our neighbors and the ciorba de burta, we all sat down at the dining room table and ate the ciroba de burta.  It was white and creamy.  It had pieces of chewy stuff in it.  They were the pieces of the cow’s stomach.  They were strange, but not bad. The soup actually tasted great!  I had seen signs several times at a restaurant on the way into town where they were advertising that they sold ciorba de burta, and I had laughed at the name so many times wondering what it was.  Now, I knew, and I also knew how to get rid of noisy gypsies carrying a goat head on a stick running at you screaming they wanted money when I didn’t have money.

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