Winter poem- Merry Christmas!



The milk from the snow
-that foam from the snow flakes-
With a big spoon
You should eat.


And then to scratch the sky,
its cauldron bottom, heartily.
You should wipe your mouth- and the leftover whey
you should give to the stars, to burst.

By Romanian author, Marin Sorescu.

Food in Books, ep.1: One-storied America (1937), by Ilf & Petrov


Reading Ilf & Petrovs One-storied America (1937) I started realizing that years pass, some things become obsolete and are scrapped, others are simply given a new shine or shape, but most things stay, fundamentally, the same. So here it is, an excerpt of the American experience, seen through Eastern Europeans eyes and stomachs.

“Serving a meal is a process as perfectly organized as the automobiles’ or the typewriters’ production.
In the same street, a bit farther away from the cafeterias, were the self-service restaurants. Seemingly similar with the cafeterias on the outside, they were transforming the process of pushing food into the American stomachs into a true virtuosity. The walls of these establishments are fully covered with glass cabinets. Next to each cabinet, there’s a small slit for introducing a nickel (a five cents coin). Behind the glass, sits a sad plate with soup or meat, a glass of juice or a pie. Despite the shining of the glass and the metal, the freedom-less meatballs or hot-dogs leave you with a wired feeling. You pity them, as you pity cats in a show. The client introduces the coin which gives him the possibility to open the cabinet door, take out the soup, carry it to a small table and eat it there, while hanging his hat under the table, on a special bar. Then, the client approaches a tap, introduces the nickel and the glass gets filled with the exact, appropriate quantity of coffee or milk . In this whole process, one can feel something offending and humiliating to the people.
For a long time, we didn’t understand why American food, so deliciously looking, doesn’t really have any taste. In the beginning, we thought that Americans simply don’t know how to cook. But then we found out that it’s not only about this, but also about the organization, about the essence of the American economy itself. The Americans are eating a terribly white bread, absolutely lacking any taste, frozen meat, salty butter, cans and partially-ripped tomatoes. How is it possible that the richest country in the world, the country of farmers and of cattle herders, of gold and of an amazing industry, a country with enough resources to create heaven on Earth, is not able to offer its own people flavorful bread, fresh meat and butter and ripen tomatoes?
We saw, close to New York (City), empty spaces, covered in weeds, parcels totally abandoned. No one was planting wheat or raising cattle. We saw neither hens with small chickens, nor vegetable gardens.”



Home-made grissini: giving my grandma a run for her money



My grandma grew up in a rather bourgoise family, with all that entails. She had a private tutor for everything that was must-have skills for a young lady, from good manners to navigating her way in the kitchen with grace. She was a fabulous baker and she loved it! Growing up, I was fascinated by the entire alchimistic process: perched upon a kitchen stool, I was fiercely following her every move. She used to make the most grandiose cakes, cookies, biscuits, pies, crumbles, fruit dumplings that everyone in the family loved and enjoyed. Except me. I never had a sweet tooth, not even as a child. So in a grand gesture of love, once the cake was in the oven, she used to look at me and give me a playful smile. I knew I was saved, it meant it was time to make grissini! How can I describe these to you? She was gravitating more towards French cooking (so much in style when she was growing up) rather than classic Italian, so the consistency of the grissini was rather flaky, layered, buttery, a bit crispy, almost like a classic French dough with more weight and crunchiness. She always kept true to a simple topping: white, feta-like cheese and cumin seeds. Years later I realized it was, of course, Sanda’s classic recipe, with an unexpected twist. She made it look so simple, easy-peasy, that somehow, I always thought making grissini take 15 minutes on the clock. Lured in by this (fake) memory, I embarked on the adventure, but little did I know. Truth be told, I am not a great baker when it come to sweets, but this was different, right? In the end, all turned well and I feel that I, somehow, conquered this milestone, too. So roll up your sleeves, boys and girls, today we’re making grissini! Read More

(Romanian) Meatballs for lunch, please!


Traditional Romanian meatballs are very different than the Belgian boulettes. If I weren’t so biased, I’d say they are much better, but hey!, I’m not even gonna dare going there. So what are the differences? Firstly, the composition. Romanian meatballs are made out of pork with lots of grated veggies and herbs inside. The Belgian ones are mostly beef, or a combination of pork and beef/ veal, onion and sometimes parsley. Then, there’s the shape. We like smaller, flat meatballs, while the Belgians make them large and round. And finally, there’s the cooking method. Traditionally, we roll the meatballs in flour and then deep fry them (I confess, I do the light version: no flour, simply cooked on the grill). As for the boulettes? They are, most of the times, fried in butter…yes, yes, this sounds delicious!

So, are you curious to know how the Romanian meatballs are made?  Read More

Food Hacks, ep. 3: The true superheroes in your kitchen


Take any magazine and flip through it: you’ll see that, 9 out of 10 times, you’ll find at least one reference to superfoods. These miraculous things that give you glowy skin, perfect hair, good energy, feed your brain, burn your fat, keep you young, make you smart(er) and,eventually, make you immortal. Enter the SUPERFOODS. Starting with the grapefruit (first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach, as grandmas all over the world say), passing through broccoli and avocado and finally ending (?) with cauliflower. Btw, dear cauliflower pushers, there’s not such thing as “cauliflower steak”. Look it up, “steak” is, by definition, a piece of meat. While eating these foods is not bad at all, don’t buy into the lie that is propagated through every channel available. These are not the superheroes you need to look for. The real superheroes in your kitchen are pretty basic stuff, faithful staples, that come to rescue whenever you’re in trouble. You know them all too well!  Read More