Post 55: Another Installment of – On The Road To Romania
On The Road Again & Chiftea
I don’t remember the taxi ride from the Children’s Village back to our car, still securely parked in downtown Bucharest, so it must have been uneventful or, maybe I was well inoculated from our earlier taxi ride.
At the parking lot, we jumped into our bright little Skoda and wended our way through the maze of Bucharest streets and traffic, then headed southwest on small highways toward Badosi, a tiny village south of Craiova, a large industrial city near the Jiu river. Headed toward his home town and his mother.
After the grayness of Bucharest, it felt good to be driving through the countryside and small towns. After about an hour, Dr. G pulled off the road and parked on the gravel where a man was cooking over a rusty, homemade charcoal grill. “Aw, Beeal you will like this! They called Chiftea. These are my favorites!”
Chiftea’s were small, rolled pieces of dark, almost black, ground meat and smelling of spices I’d never encountered. Their shape and size reminded me of a link sausage without the skin. The man placed several on a paper plate and handed them to me, hot-off-the-grill. I blew on one and took a small bite. The spices and moist meat flooded my taste buds and soon I quickly gobbled them down.
“You like?” Dr. G asked. “These lamb, ground lamb, sometimes with other meats and spices.” Later I learned they are popular throughout Romania, Turkey and the Mideast where they are also calledKofte.
“These are delicious, Dr. G. I’ve never had them before,” I said as we climbed back into the car. About a mile down the road I decided to learn more about him. “So, tell me, Dr. G, how and why did you come to the States?”
“Well, Beeal, iss a long story.” His brow furrowed for several minutes before proceeding. “I was quite smart in school, as a boy and in high school. So I get to go to the University of Bucharest. My brother and me the only ones from our tiny town to go to university. Then I go to medical school and become a gynecologist. I also teach at the university and then become head of the department. I also practice in clinic.” He paused for a while as he navigated a curve, then slowly resumed talking. “Because I teach and practice in top university of Romania, I have wifes and daughters of top government officials as my patients.”
He paused again, and then proudly straightened his back. “I never join communist party. I always work hard but I not join the party. It was very unusual to be head of a university department and not be a party member. It was not easy working in such a climate of fear and distrust, but I was very careful. As the SOS man told you, Ceaușescu did away with birth control.” He thought some more, his face lined with concentration. “One day a man from the secret security people who protected Ceausescu’s wife and family come to me. He tell me Ceausescu’s married daughter, a patient of mine, is having an affair with another man. He warn me if she get pregnant she will expect me to give her abortion.”
Next week: The Reason Dr. G Swam The Danube River