Today I’m going to talk about Things I ate as a child. This might be interesting for my readers from UK and US, as none of these foods are either brands or packaged. This is because in the 80s Romania, under the communists, there were no Western brands. At most, we had some Pepsi, which was smuggled into the country and sold on the black market. I wish I was joking about this. I also had some delicious marzipan fruits from Germany, obviously, smuggled in. Otherwise, chocolate was rarely available in shops and it was a Romanian brand. I used to love that, but the company stopped producing it soon after the revolution.
As you can imagine our food was cooked at home, from scratch. There was no such thing as a ready-meal. This must be why I don’t like the idea of a ready meal and beside some frozen pizza, I don’t buy things like that. Even in a hurry, there are many recipes that take less than 15 minutes to make, without too much hassle, and I don’t see the point in buying take away or ordering food.
All the recipes that are in bold are on CookStyle. So do check them out if you fancy trying one or two of them. All the recipes are mentioned from left to right, top to bottom. I challenge myself to share three more recipes on my food blog, so do check my blog weekly if you fancy seeing them.
Things I ate as a child – Starter
Firstly, Spring terrine, which is my vegetarian interpretation of an Easter dish. I’ve had this almost every year, with few modifications now and then. Next is roasted courgette salad, which is usually a side dish, but I’ve included it the starters. It’s delicious and something my mother used to make a few times each summer. Bean mash is topped with pan-fried onions and tomatoes, and it’s a staple in Romanian cuisine. Zacusca is eaten in Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, and it is a spread made with roasted vegetables, like peppers, onions, tomatoes, aubergines. I remember when I was a child my mother buying and chopping kilos of vegetables to make this, as a preserve for winter. Homemade is much more delicious than the shop-bought version, at least in those days. Now I prefer to buy ready-made, as the quality is great. Also, I’m not making preserves for winter, because there is no need for this. Last one in starters is roasted aubergine dip which can be made with either garlic or chopped onion, both with a bit of mayo, or, alternatively, oil.
Things I ate as a child – Soup
I recently developed a taste for soups. As a child my favourite was this lentil soup. It was an alternative to the bean soup, which was also a favourite of mine, and you can see the recipe for that one on my blog too.
Things I ate as a child – Main
Pea stew is just one of the stews I had as a child. I don’t necessarily like stews, unless it’s with beans. I always asked my mother to make the stews vegan because I didn’t like the taste of meat in them. That’s a bit strange, because, at that time I was eating meat, but not in this kind of dish. Pea stew is also the first thing I cooked for my husband (then boyfriend), which was a success, amazingly considering my lack of experience. Back then I wouldn’t have imagined that I would love to cook, but that’s a different story.
Things I ate as a child – Bread
The only kind of bread we could buy from the shop was wholemeal. When, after the communists were out (sort of, but again, that’s another story), Turkish investors came in and opened bakeries. The new white bread was fluffy and we were all so excited to eat it. Now I wouldn’t eat white bread, unless I’m very hungry and I don’t have any other option. My mother didn’t bake bread often, but she would make scovergi. These are fried, similar to doughnuts, but made with plain bread dough. They are very popular in Romania, both as an alternative to bread for savoury dishes or spread with jam and eaten as a dessert.
Things I ate as a child – Dessert
I love desserts as you can see from my very long list of them. My first pick was Krantz cake, which my grandmother would make for me for my birthday each year. It’s still my favourite cake, with walnuts in the sponge and in the buttercream too. Next are some decorated biscuits (sorry, no recipe, but there are plenty of recipes for biscuits on my food blog), as a reminder of the decorations my mother was making for celebrations like Christmas and so. She would spend a long time decorating them and I still remember some of the decorations from when I was six or seven. Swans eclairs are another of my favourite childhood recipes. My great-grandfather or my grandparents would take me to a fancy patisserie on Sundays and we’d have a dessert and a juice. I think I would always pick Swans eclairs because they look wonderful and even at five or six I was so keen on their beauty.
Next is pumpkin strudel, which is traditionally made for New Year’s Eve, hence the Christmas tree in the background. Salami biscuit was one of those desserts which I had troubles stopping from eating. I just love it. Cozonac is a well known Romanian dessert. This particular recipe is handed down from my maternal great-grandmother, so it is very dear to me. Next on the list is Mucenici, a dessert with religious meaning. It is made with pasta shaped as 8s, but I made it with all sorts of shop-bough pasta and it works just as good. Following from that is Foret Noire Cake, another German influence. It was a dessert available in patisseries in the 1980s. Orange blossom Semolina Pudding with rose jam might sound very fancy, but only the orange blossom part is my take on a semolina pudding. I’ve had rose jam lots of times and my mother would make it at home if she would find rose petals in the market. So, not more fancy than a plum jam really.
Now we are at the last three recipes. Papanasi are well loved in Romania. These are made with cheese dough, covered in sour cream, and high quality cherry preserve, with whole fruits. Once my work colleagues said they would like to have papanasi, so I went with a colleague to a restaurant and ordered papanasi for the whole team. It was better than a team building exercise. It must have been the strangest order at lunch time for that restaurant. You might have heard of Savarins before, made with yeast dough, soaked in syrup, with whipped cream. Lastly is Gomboti, made with plums covered in potato dough and boiled, before being rolled with fried breadcrumbs. It’s delicious.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my recipes. Don’t forget to check my food blog if you want to see the next three recipes I’m going to share. I don’t know yet which ones I’m going to pick, so I’m looking forward to that.