A review of the most interesting topics of 2019.
At the start of last year we visited the igloo camp in Parang Mountains, at its thirds edition. We found out that sleeping bag, a thermal blanket, a neoprene sheet, a small shovel, ten candles and warm clothes are all we need to take part in an unusual expedition, the igloo camp. Participants learned how to survive at extremely low temperatures in a structure made of snow, as part of an initiative that seeks to promote living in nature. The 2019 edition brought together 50 participants willing to face the elements in the Parang Mountains.
Adi Cimpeanu from Petrosani told us his story and how he ended up building igloos in Romania: “In 1996, I joined the Foreign Legion, where I stayed for five years, until 2001. I was part of the mountain combat troops and I learnt how to build an igloo for shelter. When I was done with the Legion I decided to apply what I had learnt at home, in Parang, in the Jiu Valley area. It all began as a game. I invited some friends and taught them how to build an igloo, because I thought it’s a pity not to share with others what I knew. Later that evening, about 15 other people showed up after hearing about this initiative. It was a success, and this year I decided to do it again, as there is quite a lot of snow. A lot of people turned up and it was great, a total success.”
Another event held in the winter of 2019 was SlanaFest. At the festival held in Cluj in the first week of February, the public were happy to taste fatback and mozzarella pie and éclairs with pork rind cream, fatback specialties decorated with culinary gold leafs, as well as pralines with chocolate, chili and fatback. Apart from exchanging recipes and promoting products, participants were also interested in organic pig farming, using only grains and fodder, with no chemicals and preservers. SlanaFest festival in Cluj was at its 4th edition in 2019. Eighteen participants entered the competition, including Ionut Mangu, who combined traditional fat back with a variety of vegetables, like horseradish, beet and chili paste to obtain new tastes. To make things even more interesting, he improved the white and red mix with a little 24-carat gold, which according to chef Mangu, makes people happier.
An active participant in relevant festivals is Chef Radu Garba, brought a variety of recipes to Cluj: "I've cooked 4 types of fatback, one with chili powder, one with garlic and spring onion paste, one with coriander and caraway, and a smoked variety."
'If You're Pushing the Edge, Eventually You Find the Edge'. This was the line delivered by the protagonist of the movie "Free Solo", which got the Academy Award. It also seemed to be the slogan of the Alpine Film Festival, that took place in late February- early March in three mountain resorts in Romania. Brasov, Predeal and Busteni were the hosts of the fourth edition of the only festival dedicated to mountain culture and education in Romania. The festival is an event built around film, books, and photography, with the intent to promote mountain civilization with its heritage tourism, ecological, economic, educational, and athletic values.
Dan Burlac, artistic director of the festival, told us why he felt the need to have such an event: "I believe that the mountains need such an event dedicated to mountain culture and education, because the mountains are fascinating. Which is why every weekend, people who love the mountains, and not only them, always go there. And there is a saying I love: going to the mountains means going home. And I believe that this was what created the urge to come up with this festival, dedicated to movies about mountains. However, it is not only about movies, it's also about books, photography, athletic competitions, mountain culture and education in all its complexity.”
Also in 2019 we explored the limits of the imagination together with Romanian sci-fi writers who make up the Planetar Literary Club, set up in 1992. For over ten years, every week writer Constantin Pavel gathered together a handful of science and sci-fi enthusiasts, such as Traian Badulescu, Codru Paun, Razvan Varlan, Andrei Ionescu, Catalin Stefan, Liviu Surugiu, and others. It was a place that shaped a large number of writers, scientists, journalists, and graphic artists that went on to become well-known in their areas. After going their own separate ways, the Planetar Literary Club has re-opened, giving new talent the opportunity to take flight.
At the launch event, we asked founder Constantin Pavel to give us a few details about its history: “We just thought we would have ourselves a literary club. I finally found support with a history teacher at our high school, Mrs. Stanca. I put up fliers everywhere, we told our friends, and they came. It was a fairly small high school classroom, I came in a blue suit, with a shirt and tie, with a fancy briefcase, and the kids loved it. The group formed right away.”