Moldova’s traditional bread can say a lot about our culinary customs and holiday rituals. Valeni village from Cahul district is the place you need for savoring the tastiest bread.
The village has a local bakery that supplies bread to several neighborhood settlements, from Colibasi to Giurgiulesti commune. During the holidays it produces over 35,000 colaci [ko’lat͡ʃj] (plural form colac [ko’lak] – a type of traditional plaited round bread, served during various ritual meals).
Here you can find white bread and whole wheat bread made from flour produced at a mill in Cahul, as well as bran bread, made from flour from a mill in Lebedenco village. Besides bread, you can also buy fresh milled flour.
Valeni village is known for its Bread Museum, where you can find all types of festive bread and their meaning: covrigi [ko’vrid͡ʒj] (a traditional type of baked goods similar to pretzels); 12 types of wedding colaci and 8 types of colaci related to other rituals – Christmas, Lăsatul Secului (similar to Shrove Tuesday, but it usually takes place on a Sunday) or Pentecost – Hulubași [hulu’baʃj] (traditional sweet bread baked in the shape of a dove), pupăza [’pupəza] (a rectangular loaf used at wedding ceremonies) . These are just a small part of the museum’s exhibits.
You will be part of an entire ritual while getting to know each type of traditional bread with different names, such as: pupăza de mireasa (a rectangular loaf presented to the bride by the godmother to bless the marriage), colac de mire (a type of sweet bread, part of the wedding ceremony known as the groom´s bread), colac pentru socru (a type of traditional bread used by the father-in-law during the wedding ceremony), pupăza de soacra (a rectangular loaf used in a wedding ceremony by the mother-in-law ), colac pentru preot la cununie (a traditional loaf presented to the priest at the wedding ceremony ).
Tourists are welcome to stay at “La Gura Cuptorului” Guesthouse, which belongs to the museum. Here you can make a brief stop for lunch, or a longer overnight stay. The guesthouse has four rooms, which provide accommodation for up to ten visitors, a living room and bathrooms. Tourists can take bakery workshops and meet some of the local stars: Toderica and Lidia Bejenaru, the well-known Boonika Bate Doba (who performed together with the legendary moldovan band Zdob si Zdub at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2005).
Here you can enjoy delicious food – the traditional mămăligă [məmə’ligə] (polenta) paired with fish saramură [sara’murə] (stew) made with locally-caught fish, vegetable stew, local cheese, homemade wine and, of course, bread baked in a wood-fired oven.
You can also visit Lake Beleu which is located nearby, where you can admire an authentic colony of various birds and take a boat ride – a must see!