In the last 7 years since my mom passed away, I tried to get home to Romania every year. I still have family and friends who I deeply care about, so I try to spend time with them as much as possible while I am in the country. Getting together with friends while in Romania is very important to me. Being home, the country where I grew up, and being together with people I love, replenishes my emotional energy tank that is extremely helpful for my mental and emotional health. Don’t get me wrong, my home is now in U.S. for many years and I cannot imagine living anywhere else, but there is something about the energy of the native land that is very important to each one of us. And how can you not be connected with this?
First of all, the summers in Romania are beautiful, the weather is warm and sunny, there is not a lot of humidity in the air, so it is nice to be outside and enjoy it.
However, besides nature, being with friends, enjoying a glass of wine, good food and great conversations are the best times while visiting. This weekend, I visited dear friends who live in the outskirts of Bucharest, a little village called Corbeanca. Corbeanca is located north of Bucharest where few American style neighborhoods developed in the late 90’s, with beautiful, quiet backyards, lovely homes and great gated communities where kids run and play around free and safe.
My friends just came back from their vacation in Greece, so they decided to organize a Greek theme meal for us. Or shall I say feast? Ioana, my friend, served simple and delicious grilled meats and beautiful salads, cold cuts and wonderful cheese, coffee and sweets at the end of the meal and wine with mineral fizzy water as “spritz”, very traditional in the summer. I took a lot of pictures and thought that you might be curious to enjoy some of the things Romanians love to eat when they get together.
On the first picture, on the left side of it you can see Grilled eggplant salad with red peppers, something like Baba Ganouche but without tahini or mayo. Also you can see very diverse cold cuts and roasted pepper salad.
The eggplant salad is made by grilling and charring the eggplants first. The charred skin is then removed, the eggplants are drained of their juices for few hours, then chopped, mixed with olive oil, chopped onion, and salt to taste. This recipe in particular, has also chopped red peppers, for added sweetness. Delicious!
These are roasted peppers served as a salad. The salad is a very, very popular item on the table during the summer in Romania and it is very easy to make.
The peppers are also charred on the fire grill, like the eggplants, then the skin is removed.
The cleaned peppers are placed in a salad bowl.
A vinaigrette made out of olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper is added to the peppers. Some people add some finely chopped garlic, parsley and sometimes hot peppers.
The result is a beautiful, delicious salad that goes well with a lot of things, especially grilled meats.
And there are all kind of meats, from sausages to steaks, pork, chicken, kebabs and salty pork. The sky is the limit.
These ones are called “mititei”(read “meeteetai”). The ground beef is mixed with spices and garlic, shaped like little breakfast sausages and grilled. The “Mititei”are usually served with mustard, bread and lots of beer.
The appetizers are also very diverse. This time we had Tzatziki, a sauce made with greek jogurt, cucumbers, garlic and dill.
We also had a Greek recipe called Tirosalata, a spicy Feta cheese spread made with Feta cheese, greek yogurt, hot peppers, olive oil, garlic and other spices.
Home made hummus.
Greek pita bread to dip in the wonderful spreads and sauces.
The queen of the meal was the Greek salad, a beautiful mixture of summer vegetables, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, red onion, dressed with Feta cheese, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and a little bit of vinegar. Oh! And black olives! How can I forget that?
Are you kidding me? Just look at that!
After eating so much that we could not breath anymore, my friend served coffee and desserts. And how can you refuse THIS??? A beautiful brownie with tahini served with vanilla ice cream,
and Samali, a sweet, delicate Greek semolina cake soaked in sugar syrup flavored with rose water.
Oh my! Isn’t that beautiful?
Between laughs, lively conversations, eating, drinking and enjoying the beautiful summer Sunday, I thought about how important the social support is for all of us. For me, as the first generation of immigrants, the connection with my native country and people I left behind is extremely strong. I try to keep my language intact, my traditions and customs alive and try to visit as often I can. My soul is still back there and many times I find myself in an internal battle about who I am. I sometimes feel that after so many years living overseas, I do not belong in my native country anymore, and I am not fully integrated either emotionally or mentally in my adopted country.
I feel blessed to have wonderful family and friends who I can see when I get back home once a year. Life goes on for all of us, but the warm friendship and family ties are there, no matter how often we see each other. I am very lucky to have them and extremely grateful for them. Life is good, my friends! And I am happy to share this with you!
See you next time!