When I was in language school, out Romanian instructor was going thru an introduction to various traditional foods and drinks. After a numbing discussion on how many ways you can use eggplant in various dishes she told us about ţuică the traditional plum brandy that Eastern Europeans love. I thought she meant a flavored brandy, and she told me no, no, no you've never had ţuică?? So she promised to bring in some the next day. Lunch break the next day she rolled out these little tiny ham sandwiches on hard bread, and popped open the Tukoffs horseradish jar that contained the ţuică.......it was daytime but when that top came off the little bottle and she poured it into little metal cups the size of shot glasses.. vapor rose up from the liquid.
That stuff was as clear as water and I seem to remember she said her husband distilled it in their backyard. She told us (it was only me and this recently graduated French Major in the class) to take a sip then take a bite of the sandwich. I did take a sip but I think it was immediately absorbed thru my mouth tissue...I don't remember a taste, just an immediate realization that if I tried consume what seemed like 280 proof moonshine I would not be able to drive home. Now I have sampled some of the ancient Percy Flowers brew that my Father-in-law acquired and stored in the garage (because my mother-in-law would not allow alcohol in the house)..it went down hard, but at least I could drink it. Didn't much like that stuff either but it didn't scare me like ţuică....(pronounced Swee Kah)
This is a definition I found by a google search:
Romanian "moonshine"—often concocted in makeshift, charcoal-stoked backyard distilleries—is in fact the country's national drink. It's called ţuică, a clear and gut-warming potent spirit distilled from plums, one of the country's most bountiful crops.
I will never try it again.