Chișcă or mațu’ curului is a traditional type of cured meat made from the fatty meat of the pork neck by families in Valea Barcăului and small villages of the Moldova region of northeastern Romania. The name differs depending on whether it is made using the pork stomach (for chișcă) or the large intestine (for mațu’ curului). To make these products, the meat is partly boiled then cut into strips and mixed with scalded păsat (mashed corn) and seasoned with salt, pepper and dried thyme. This mixture is then placed into the cleaned pig stomach or large intestine. It is then sewn, tied and boiled slowly in a cloth bag. It is cooled and cold-smoked for one day.
Chișcă or mațu’ curului is eaten as it is or sliced and baked in the oven or boiled in soups or traditional Romanian dishes known as sarmale or ciolent (traditional Romanian dishes). The traditional breeds of pig used to produce these cured meats is the Mangaliță or Bazna, old and endangered Romanian breeds, raised out in the fields, free to graze the grass and other plants that give special properties to their meat. Chișcă or mațu’ curului is usually made before the Christmas holidays in December, as preparation would follow the slaughter of the pig that usually took place earlier in the month. As most farmers could historically afford to raise only one pig per year, this event would be a true celebration for the entire family, friends and neighbors. The chișcă or mațu’ curului would then be consumed as a part of the New Year’s Eve dinner.
The main reasons for the disappearance of these products is the change in the consumption preferences of young people, who are more wary of products with a high fat content, but sometimes less concerned about the synthetic additives found in mass-produced cured meats or other type of sausages. Also, there is a loss of knowledge about the making of the păsat (mashed corn) ingredient, and there are fewer people that know this recipe or have the necessary ingredients. Also, the old pig breeds that were the best for making these cured meats are slowly disappearing because they are being replaced by more productive, hybrid breeds that don’t require so much time and care.