10. Horinca – the Local Spirit
The horinca (plum, but also apple or pear, brandy) is not only a traditional drink, but also the pride of every villager; it is the liquor which opens every party, relaxes, and binds friendships, a kind of elixir which has healing powers. “Better drink a shot of it/Than take a drug from the pharmacy”, as traditional lyrics go. Or, “If I drink a shot of plum brandy/I feel healthy inside my body”. People who keep the secrets of horinca know what a good sample has to taste like. They rub a drop on their hands; if it smells like honey, the drink has passed the test. Then, real horinca has to make “beads” (bubbles) when you shake it; the more beads it makes, the better it is. Courtesy suggests that when you enter a house in Maramureş and the host welcomes you with such brandy, you have to drink it all straight down; otherwise, it brings bad luck to the host. As concerned as you may feel for the welfare of your host, keep in mind that horinca is "fire water": after a shot or two, you may not feel your legs anymore!