26 Nov A culinary journey
It is safe to say that my culinary journey started when I was little, at my parents and grandparents table. As Romanians, we have strong family bonds. To us, food is not only for satisfying our hunger, but also a celebration of being together, and a way of showing our love for those around the table. We take a lot of pride in offering the best we have to those around us.
My relationship with food has been a bumpy road, with times when I just didn’t appreciate it, and other times when I was quite obsessively searching for perfection. But I could never have stayed completely away from it, afterall I was part of a family that loved eating!
In Romania, seasonality is a reason for celebration. I can remember when the first aubergines of the year could be found at the market, or spring onions, or new potatoes, peppers, cherries, grapes, or pears. There was excitement in the air. Every one of these moments was a source of joy.
Eating our way through seasons was very special, but then we had to preserve all these vegetables and fruits for the winter. Jams, compotes, confitures, pickles, ragus, sauces – we all had a role to play in making them. These were times when the family came together.
How the book idea came about
There is a lot to say about Romania’s traditions, landscape, history and its present, and I found that there were not many voices around fighting to tell these stories. Not in the UK, at least.
I realised that in these times, where tolerance and inclusion are losing ground, a book about Romanian cookery will help to dispel some of the misconceptions about Romania and its people. What a delicious way to get to know us, right?
There is so much food around us, so many dishes from all over the world, and no boundaries to what we eat and how we combine ingredients. If you take a moment and look more closely at the world of food, we are all eating pretty much the same things: flatbreads, stuffed vegetables or leaves, stews/curries, BBQ meat, dough parcels, dumplings, soups. So many of these dishes are Romanian, too, and by using our land resources, we made them specific to our country.
This is how the idea of a book about Romanian cookery came about. Romania is a cultural melting pot. Its character is rooted in Greek and Turkish traditions in the south, Hungarian and Saxon in the north, and Slavic in parts of the east and west. No wonder we have dishes so similar to those specific to these countries. We are part of this European heritage and landscape.
How I decided to write it
Therefore, I decided that it was about time for someone to make this book happen. I lived in Romania for more than 20 years. Since moving to the UK, I have adapted my taste and culinary skills to this country. I deepened my knowledge about cookery, and I’ve never again been out of touch with the world of food. I felt that it was the right time for me to share my Romanian food stories with the country I live in.
The journey that I started with this book is also a journey of soul-searching and self-finding. The decision to write felt very much in line with who I really am, more than any other decisions I’ve taken before. Unfortunately, it didn’t mean that everything else followed through. I couldn’t just hope and wait around for people to ask me to write a book. I had to start another journey, a pre-journey if you wish: of finding these people.
The right people
It didn’t take long to find the right people for my Romanian cookery book. I was looking for somebody who knows the market, with experience in publishing cookery books, daring, confident, assertive…and risk taking. Both my agent and my publisher are all of the above, and more. How lucky was I…in the end?
But then again: I had the right person all along. My husband – who ignited this writing spark in the first place, and who is here for me every step of the way.
I am continuing this journey, and by doing so, I am discovering Romanians, in Romania and abroad, who are incredibly talented, and dedicate their artistic life to promoting Romania. Through websites, Instagram accounts, and stunning photography, they are collecting and preserving Romania’s traditions. All of a sudden, I’m not on my own anymore.
To be continued…