Europeade 2011 - Day 2
Europeade Day 2 has been all about the street vendors - hundreds of stalls with people selling food, locally made goods, produce, meats, honey, and more were sprawled all over the historic center of Tartu. And I finally had my first all-Estonian meal. As I approached the area of food stands, I noticed salmon filets screwed into a board (yes, with actual screws - obviously more secure than nails) cooking over an open fire. They looked almost ready to eat, so I decided this was the joint I would try. I asked the woman at the stand for, "Only Estonian food, please," and she happily replied, "Yes, of course! You are in Estonia, so no kebab for you!" I was so happy to be able to taste my first full Estonian meal. Unfortunately, most restaurants and food served here is either Turkish kebab, pizza, or some sort of combination of the two. But real Estonian food doesn't resemble any of that. This was my lunch: potatoes with fried sourkraut, grilled pork with some amazing sauce cooked into it, fried fish that you eat whole, and a mayonaise/sourcream/dill sauce that went on top. I couldn't have been happier! After stuffing my face with a ridiculous amount of fried fish, I ventured to the streets to see what the markets had to offer. Lots and lots of fur carpet sellers - I'm assuming it gets extremely cold here in the winter, so those are a necessity. There were multiple honey vendors, fruit stands, and dried fish stands. The fruit was so fresh, you could smell the ripened strawberries as you walked by - and they were tiny, beautiful, perfect strawberries. Small. And did I mention perfect?
A tented market in the middle of a square housed vendors selling homemade soaps and oils, wooden trinkets, jewelry, more wooden objects, and grey linen dresses, hats, and shirts. In the main Town Hall Square, basket vendors along with beer, kali, candy and ice cream stands lined the perimeter of the square. People were eating, buying, eating more, and enjoying live music and dance throughout the day. I decided that I too would just enjoy the sight and sounds of the day, and not film any dancing - however I had to give in just once to filming these young Russian male dancers from the Lootos group showing off.
Later in the evening, a European choral concert was held at the University of Tartu Hall. Set in a beautiful, old building, the hall had wonderful acoustics and large windows to let a lot of the natural light shine in. Two groups stood out for me in the concert. The first was SOS de Santu Matteu, singers from Sardinia (led by Mr. Franco Carta), dressed very similarly from our other friends from the same island, but very different in singing style. The San Matteu group follows the tradition of the shepards and sing secular and non-secular songs, most based on the medieval musical style. The men stand in a circle, facing each other to hear one another perfectly and to be completely synchronized with one another. As they were singing, I could just imagine hearing the same piece echoing through the hills of Sardinia with goats' and sheep's bells ringing in the distance. The SOS de Santu Matteo received an enthusiastic standing ovation at the end of their last piece. Beautiful.
By the way, I was told that the man all the way to the left holding the Italian flag is 84 years old and always travels with the group.
Another group that also performed was more about the full performance rather than just the singing: Sudaruski, the Russian choir group from Tallinn, Estonia. As I've learned on this trip, Russian choir group singing is not just about the singing; it is also incorporates synchronized movement, almost dancing. The women move around the room like dolls, light on their feet with long skirts so it looks as though they are floating on air. Their countanence is always happy and telling a story; whatever they are singing about, they express with their arms, head, facial expressions, and interaction with each other. The music was beautiful, the costumes elaborate, and the women moved together with great ease.
After the choral performances, I headed back to the Town Hall Square where the stalls were closing up, but the music was louder than ever. An Estonian folk/rock/disco group was performing on the main stage. They were dressed traditionally but played electric guitar, bass and drums (and accordion) - almost like an Estonian version of The Corrs. They were having a great time, and the crowd loved it!
Again, this last picture was taken at 10:30pm this evening...love it!