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Prince Charles visited this Thursday the seat of his namesake foundation in the Transylvanian village of Viscri, accommodated in a house dating back to 1700. Here he met with farmers and artisanal food producers with whom he conversed about ingredients, recipes and marketing methods, as well as the problems they face.
The focus of the visit was the meeting with 30 farmers and producers, as well as with former rowing celebrity Ivan Patzaichin, who is also the founder of the ''Mila 23'' charity that supports the Danube Delta heritage, gastronomy and tourism.
The Prince tasted the products on display, including palinka, pork sausages, homemade bread, cheese, carp pastrami. As he stepped in the barn on the house grounds, Prince Charles was welcomed with café-concert music played by the Intermezzo quartet of Sibiu.
After visiting a newly refurbished room and the room he uses as his own rustic overnight retreat, His Royal Highness went on to meet the small producers and farmers.
At the stand with pork products made with meat of the Mangalitsa and Bazna breeds, the Prince said he was glad the two breeds were discovered.
He tasted the sausages, inquired about the spices added to the mix and about the manufacturing process, asking also about the roast bacon nuggets spread on display.
So that's good cholesterol, he remarked laughingly.
He also took a bite of the crustless homemade bread, finding it's special and praising its freshness.
At the vegetable oils stand, the Price inquired about the way the small business had started and how the producers manage to market their products.
It takes time [to make it to good online sales], he remarked, telling the producer that he obviously is very busy at retirement.
The Prince also had a laid back conversation with Ivan Patzaichin, who told him that on September 8 six boats representing the Romanian provinces will cross the Thames in tribute to Romania's Centennial.
This autumn, in September we will be on the Thames, Patzaichin told the Prince, who wished everyone success in this endeavor, assuring them he will think of them.
Prince Charles also wanted to know if increasingly more tourists are coming to the Danube Delta.
Yes, but the problem is that higher tourist numbers do not necessarily mean good and sustainable methods. The goal is to find the balance between tourists and conservation, remarked someone at the fish stand.
His Royal Highness recalled having recently read a book written between 1920 and 1930 by an Englishman who had visited Romania and who shared his enjoyment at finding here the most delicious food.
Prince Charles was also curious to know whether former Olympic champion Ivan Patzaichin is still training, asking whether he works out all the time, if his diet consists mainly of fish and if he has problems with his back.
Patzaichin admitted having back issues sometimes, but said that he has a good massage therapist.
The carp pastrami on display at Ivan Patzaichin's stand caught the eye of the high British guest.
Just try it! Courage!, Patzaichin invited him.
The former Olympic champion offered the Prince an album of his native village Mila 23. It's a thank-you for what you are doing for Romania. These are true stories rendered as comics, Patzaichin said.
During the visit the Prince wore a tiny carnation on the lapel of his coat. At the end of the visit he also engaged in conversation with a group of German tourists.
He said his German wasn't that good, but we understood him very well. He told us how beautiful the local scenery, how he loves it and that he feels extraordinarily. He is very jolly, open, not at all aloof, one of the tourists related.
The array of products on display on the occasion of Prince Charles's visit were: blackberry sauce, cold pressed oils, sausages, pastrami, palinka, honey, sourdough bread decorated with turmeric and paprika, dough cake, fish products, cornel berry, elderberry and rhubarb jam, rose petal jelly, compotes, cheese and fruit juices.
Executive Director of The Prince of Wales's Foundation Aura Woodward said the purpose of Prince Charles's meeting with the small producers and farmers was to highlight the potential of Romanian agriculture.
"In the past year The Prince of Wales's Foundation has conducted a survey in five historical regions of the country to identify healthy foods and products. They come from Transylvania, Bucovina, the Danube Delta, Maramures and Banat. (...) The purpose of the meeting is to highlight the potential of Romanian agriculture. There are 9 million living in Romania's rural areas, many of them in poverty or on the brink of poverty, and through the foundation we are trying to find programs to help them develop small businesses, create jobs, and of course the farmers are an important segment," Woodward said.
Last year, The Prince of Wales's Foundation Romania started, in partnership with the Slow Food Association and the Romania 100 Platform, a project to identify all natural product manufacturers in Romania.
To this end, foundation representatives met with more than 200 farmers and producers from Transylvania, the Danube Delta, Bucovina, Maramures and Banat and succeeded in identifying around 70 top quality, nature-friendly products that include cheeses, honey, fish products, cold pressed oils, organic drinks. Two pig breeds that are renowned for the high quality meat and fat they produce were also identified: Mangalitsa and Bazna.
The Prince of Wales Foundation Romania was created three years ago. The organization supports the preservation of cultural heritage, agriculture and sustainable development. Each year, the foundation offers training courses for the restoration of historic buildings, the revitalization of old crafts and stimulation of small businesses.
The foundation is headquartered in a house dating from 1700, which has been transformed into a training center and boarding house. The old barn of the building was turned into a reading room and café. The house is open to tourists for a limited period of time.
The Prince of Wales Foundation is based in the village of Viscri, Brasov County, which is a UNESCO heritage site. AGERPRES (RO - author: Florentina Peia, editor: Andreea Rotaru; EN - author: Simona Klodnischi, editor: Simona Iacob)
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