As a visitor in Maramures
, you will definitely not leave your host's house with empty stomack. Travellers will be welcome to a fulfilling meal upon arrival, where traditional dishes are the main attraction.
In the Maramures
homes, polenta can be seen in lots of different aspects. In the past, polenta often used to replace the bread. The shepherds' specialty is a dish of ewe-cheese, milk and polenta, called "balmos", but you don't have to go up to the sheepfold to taste it (although if you do, the landscape will definitely pay off your efforts). One of the householders would give her best to cook it for you.
There are different customs as far as dishes are concerned. For instance, on Palm Saturday, women from Maramures
bake small loafs of bread for each member of the family. This bread is called "Wheat flower" and tradition claims that those eating it that day will see each other in Heaven. On Christmas night and on New Year's Eve, all the members of the family must eat a slice of pork jelly ("piftie") from a big plate where there also is the snout of the pig, which is said to bring luck.
All this food could not be swallowed properly if it weren't sprinkled with the omnipresent beverage of Maramures
, the plum brandy called "Palinca" or "Horinca". The men from Maramures
proudly claim that you won't find anywhere else in the whole country better "horinca" than the one that is made in their villages. There are different "proofs" that can testify the quality of this liquor. If you rub in your hands a drop of "horinca", it must get a certain smell, similar to the smell of honey. Then when you pour it in glasses, it makes a "collar" of small pearls, which should stay there till you say the Lord's Prayer. The more the small pearls are the better the horinca is.
It is tradition for men to offer Palinca to visitors. Custom suggests that the glass be emptied before one leaves the table otherwise it can be bad luck for the household, especially if the family has daughters. If the guests fail to finish the glass of palinca, then the daughters will not marry.