We left our country about 14 years ago. The first thing we missed in Brussels was the traditional food. We did not give up and we looked around for the specific ingredients, so little by little we managed to get everything we needed to enjoy our traditional dishes especially for the most important events of the year: Easter and Christmas. The way of cooking suffered a little bit of the Western influence, but we enjoy this way as this makes us more creative and brings in a little bit of originality.
In our family cooking is a team experience. My parts include the “slaving” work which is travelling around the city to buy the meat and raw ingredients, pealing the vegetables and cleaning up the instruments and the mess in general. The most elaborated work, including the combination of spices and flavours, is done by my wife and my daughter.
We started the preparation for this Christmas, a long time before. Making a list of both ingredients and dishes was the first thing to do. This year we prepared a vegetable salad, “ciorba” (a sour soup), “sarmale”, sausages, turkey and pork roast and two traditional desserts, “cozonac” and a traditional cheese pie named “poale-în-brâu”. As drinks we had some “tuică” (plum brandy), which we saved the entire year, and some Italian wine which is closer to our favourite Romanian wine.
The main pre-Christmas dish was fish with vegetables and some polenta. In Romania the tradition is to fast before Christmas, but we cannot make it, so we adopted the Western tradition of eating fish.
The Christmas night started with a vegetable salad. It is a mixture of boiled potatoes, carrots and peas. The mixture is enhanced with Balkan cucumber pickles and some olives. When all vegetables are in they are mixed with mayonnaise, always made in house. The mayonnaise is made out of 4 raw yolks, lemon juice, mustard and some oil of four plant seeds, which contains natural omega 3 and 4. This combination is so tasteful!
The “sarmale” are a dish which we inherited from the former Ottoman Empire. At Christmas we made cabbage and wine leaves rolled around a minced meat, combined with rice, onions, parsley and spices. We served them hot with fresh cream and polenta (mămăliga).
We did not make the sausages ourselves as this is a much elaborated job. We bought them from the supermarket. There is one kind which resembles to some traditional Romanian sausages.
We ate the turkey and pork roast with lettuce to let our body take some green “minerals”.
We enjoyed two desserts, the “cozonac” and the “poale-în-brâu”.
Each year we love mixing traditional dishes at Christmas. This makes us richer!