At the beginning of September we took over the Suru Chalet in the Făgăraș Mountains and turned it into the headquarters of one of the coolest events we have been to this year. The 3 days spent there evolved around a old shepherd’s recipe that takes a lot of time to prepare and a lot of team work to get to the final result.
Buried sheep in the ground is a recipe that the shepherds from Sibiu would cook on long summer days, up in the mountains. To keep this part short – you need a whole sheep from which you take all the internal organs out, you cut them into small pieces, mix them with whatever you have available (herbs, nuts, eggs, garlic, onions, wild mushrooms) and put them back in the sheep. Sew the sheep, cover it in its skin, sew the skin, cover the whole thing with clay and put in a big hole in the ground full of fire. Cover the hole with soil and wait for at least 12 hours (we waited for 18 hours in total).
The weekend started on Friday morning when we all met where the hiking path to the Suru Chalet begins, at Izvorul Florii. We had a quick bite and took some stuff to have a picnic in the forest on our way up. Tasty cheese and sausages, fresh tomatoes and bread waited for us to put them in our backpacks for later.
We had a biologist with us who showed us all sorts of plants on our way up, so not to get too bored of only hiking. The kids were the ones who followed her all the way, to explore deeper the forest.
Getting to the Suru Chalet in the afternoon, we had a quick soup already prepared by our hosts and everybody started doing something to prepare for the sheep burial – some dug the hole, some carried wood to start the fire, some helped the chef prepare the sheep for its burial. Being involved in the whole process of cooking the sheep was the fun part of the weekend. Everybody had a chance to interact with the others from the group, meet each other and get to know each other better.
It was an intense work to be done and it was only at night that we finally managed to put the sheep down in the ground and let it rest there at at a high temperature until the next day. It was a big effort (especially for those who dug the hole), but it was fun to help in all the process, instead of just sitting back and watch what’s happening.
Friday night ended with a very simple, but super tasty dinner around the open fire, with a great view over the lights of the cities and villages in the valley down below.
Saturday everybody went on a hiking trip towards the Făgăraș Moutains Ridge, to explore the area, search some herbs and get hungry enough for when the sheep would be ready to eat.
Just before the sheep was taken out from the ground, Ana, a pharmacist, made us a live demonstration of how to make a tincture from the herbs that we had picked during the day and how to make a hands cream with carrot oil, vitamin E and seabuckthorn oil. And Iulia, working for Conservation Carpathia told us how they help the Făgăraș Mountains to keep their forests, flora and fauna alive and untouched.
Just before sunset some of us had to do some digging again to get the sheep out and have it ready for dinner. All these hours it spent in the ground were enough for the meat to get tender and take all the flavor from all the herbs and spices put into it. Some fresh salad, pickled cucumbers and a carrot and cheese dill were waiting for us to put them on the same plate with the sheep. It looked and tasted absolutely perfect.
The day ended with good vibes, music and a big fire to warm us up a bit, as at night it does get quite chilly in the mountains.
Sunday was the last day and after breakfast we packed our bags and headed back to the urban life, after a full weekend of fresh air, great views, tasty food and cool people, with big smiles on their faces. To be repeated!
Photo credits go to Gabriela Cuzepan.
Music by The Hipodrome of Music