History - Traditions
Beside the scone, the roast is one of the main gastronomic specialities of Torda (Turda).
The Tordai-roast is made with grilled pork tenderloin. The pork tenderloin is chopped. The slices with fatty parts are cut in, on both sides, with parallel cuts, approximately two inches apart. The cut parts are soaked in salty water for twenty minutes. After the time is up, the meat is taken out of the water and put in a vat. The tenderloin pieces are fried in a large stew-pan, in plenty of fat, without using any water. If the speck did not fry to have a beautiful red color, it is wiped down with a cloth dipped in milk.
The cooks “packed” the fried meat, enough for a half – one day, in large pots and took it to the fair. If the fair/market happened to be hold in Torda, a family member at home prepared one more serving and took it out, to be sold. If the cooks had to travel to a fair, at a larger distance, the new serving had to be prepared under the free sky, in the marketplace. On busy fairs, it happened that they used the tenderloin of 3-4 pigs.
At the fair a table was set up, called “tűzszék” (fire-chair). The table had a hole in it, where the pot was placed. Under the pot a vessel with hot charcoal kept the roast warm. Next to the pot, on the table an enamel bowl was placed, where the meat pieces were served, according to the “needs” of the customers. The roasted meat was put between two slices of bread and served with pickled cucumbers. Here, besides the roasted goodies, the customers found fried sausage, liverwurst, greaves, frankfurter and other goodies like bread with warm lard. The liverwurst was always fried in a separate pot (if the filling falls apart, this should never get mixed with the roasted tenderloin). The fat and lard used for roasting was bought up by the local landladies and housewives.
There were 6-8 families involved in the tenderloin roasting “business” and they always travelled with the scone bakers and sieve makers. They always visited the fairs held in the neighboring cities (Aranyosgyéres (Câmpia Turzii), Aranyosegerbegy (Viișoara), Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca), Bánffyhunyad (Huedin), the Aranyos (Arieș) valley). The tenderloin roasting trade disappeared, with the reorganising of the catering industry in the 1950s – 1960s. The last roaster of the Torda fair, Mrs. Finta (Dávid Erzsi) retired in the 70s. The roaster was a prestigious occupation, as it required hard work and the money was not much.
“The so-called market-woman-roast – fried there, on the fair in sizzling fat – was one in a kind. It was so well known, that the foreign travellers usually ordered the food to the taverns, so they could taste the excellent and well known dish of Torda”, said Balázs Orbán about this delicious food.
I would recommend this dish to all those who are not scared to eat healthy and who like the gourmand foods. It is not by miracle that this dish made Torda famous.