1. Driving through the Carpathian Mountains in August and buying a bucket of freshly picked blueberries from a roadside vendor.
2. Buying the prettiest mărțișor from every vendor’s stall on the 1st of March to stick on your loved ones’ chests, welcoming the arrival of spring.
3. Driving around until you find the perfect spot — secluded, green, by a river where you can bathe and surrounded by fir trees — where you can spend a hot sunny day “la iarbă verde” with your family.
Grilling pork steaks, chicken legs and mici over the fire, and, most of all, having your parents, grandma and your extended family there to share it with you.
4. Borș, icre, zacuscă, and cozonac.
Outside the country, you might try to replicate the unique flavour of borș by squeezing a lemon into your soup. You might look for a zacuscă-like vegetable dip in supermarkets, or even attempt to prepare your own cozonac on special occasions — but trying to replace true Romanian ingredients with second-class equivalents will never do the trick.
5. Actually getting quick service from your internet provider.
Bitching and ranting about the poor services in Romania was your favorite sport, until you moved abroad and realized it takes three weeks for someone to install your Wifi and another four weeks for them to return and fix your connectivity problem.
6. Sinking into the soft cushions and dimly lit interior of the cozy, bohemian tea houses of The Bucharest.
And perusing the 30-page menu while you wait for your friends and listen to the background jazz music.
7. Being able to grocery shop on a Sunday evening at 8 p.m.
8. Being congratulated by people on your name’s day
Now that you’ve left the country you don’t get the early morning phone calls, wishes on your Facebook wall or little gifts from your relatives and friends. People think: ‘Ok, it’s the day of the saint who you were named after. So?’
9. The sourness of homemade wine
Maybe it’s not the best for a fancy dinner, but you can’t imagine living in a world where the only type of wine is the the bottled type.
10. Papanași with sour cream and huckleberry jam
11. Going to your friends’ houses on Christmas Eve and singing O, ce veste minunată in front of their doors while the outside is freezing cold. And then, being invited in and treated to a creamy homemade cake.
12. Eating Voinești apples, Jonathan apples, or soft yellow summer apples from an orchard.
Your family may not own an orchard back in Romania, but you almost surely know somebody who does. Abroad, September comes and oh how you miss eating real apples picked by real people from a real orchard — rather than a supermarket.
13. Being so close to the Carpathian mountains.
And the homemade butter, jam and cheese you’re always treated with while there.
14. ROM chocolate
15. The architecture of those charming old houses in the Neo-Romanian style, scattered between office buildings or hidden in quiet neighborhoods.
16. The Transylvania International Film Festival
Sure, there are other film festivals in the world. But the TIFF is no worse — it’s cheap and it’s greeted with an enthusiasm you don’t really find anywhere else.