Thursday, April 22, 2010

Picnic at Lake Ciric

What better adventure for a spring Saturday afternoon than a picnic? And yes, a picnic in Iasi with a bunch of internationals is guaranteed to be an adventure. Though it's been a rather chilly spring, we finally had a nice day, and so a group of us headed out to the lake (called Ciric) at the edge of town.

I went with two female Nigerian friends, and we were the first ones there. We also had the grill supplies and much of the food to get everything started. Some of the guys were also supposed to meet us there to help with the grill. But they didn't. So we tried to get it situated ourselves. First we tried to put together the little rickshaw "grill" the girls bought at the store. I told them it was not gonna work, it was too flimsy, and we should just use the grills they had there. Being doctory types, they were really concerned with the germs on an outdoor grill that just sits there for all to use. I told them it would be fine, the germs would all die in the heat anyhow.

Ten minutes later when the flimsy store-bought "grill" wouldn't even stand upright, they agreed with my plan. But we still didn't know how to start the fire. It's not easy like in America where you can just buy a bag filled with charcoal and light the bag on fire. Oh no, this is like seriously actually-starting-a-fire kind of stuff. Which we didn't know, and we just started pouring the black charcoal-like stuff into the pit. At which point the Romanian guys 100 feet away who had been staring at us and laughing at our absurdity decided they would help us. No wait, we asked them to help us. They were very kind and helpful. And they straight up gathered twigs and sticks and newspapers to start a fire. Yea, I totally wouldn't have done that. Only after that was all going could you pour the charcoal-like substance into the pit. Right.

And still no guys.

So we got the chicken marinated and started putting it on the grill. The only problem was that the fire was so hot that it just burned the outside. I tried my best to keep turning it, but I'm sure we just looked like a bunch of pathetic girls making complete fools of ourselves.

Finally the guys arrived. I handed them the tongs and told them they could deal with the crazy burnt mess. They had the brilliant idea of cooling the fire a bit by spraying some water on it. Which required lifting up the grate WITH the chicken on it, and pour water on the fire. As if a group of black people in Romania isn't enough to draw plenty of stares, well, our BBQing methods were just earning us plenty more eyes. Eventually the guys managed to figure out a system. And even though most of the chicken wasn't cooked all the way through, we eventually had food.

The picnic was scheduled to start at 1:30, and that's about when our trio arrived to start setting up. The guys showed up around 2:30. And the rest of the picnic-ers strolled in between 3 and 3:30. Wonderfully Nigerian. But we had loads of food and laughter, so it was a splendid afternoon. We played games, ate, took pictures, and discussed just how polluted we thought the lake was. No really, it's gross. But if you stand far enough away it almost looks normal. Almost. Hopefully we can do more picnics out there, as it's so refreshing to get out of the city, spread out on green space, and enjoy nature with a group of friends. Maybe next time we'll even manage to cook the chicken all the way through.

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