Header image by I, Sailko / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)
I would love to do a ”what I eat in a day” kind of post but it would take too much time being with the camera in the hand and probably not the most comfortable with little Astrid, so the best I can do is to just talk a little bit more about what we eat/I cook.
This time though, I thought it would be fun to talk about my Top 5 dishes that I grew up with since a child. Most of the time would be my grandmother since she enjoyed feeding us all and prepping food for the entire week for all the family and oh, I am so grateful for that! I learnt what good real food is thanks to her and much of my love for cooking, baking and preparing is also due to her and all the dedication she put in the kitchen.
My grandmother left her job when I was born and she dedicated her last years of life to me and to nourishing us all, as a family. I will forever be thankful for the love she showed me, the things I learnt from her, and all the care she put into our health and wellbeing.
I have many beloved dishes I learnt from her and my head is spinning when I try to pick one but if I have to pick five, those will need to be:
The top 5 Dishes of My Childhood
- Bone Broth Soup using all the chicken – grandmother used to dislike wasting food, she absolutely had to use everything and always made sure everything gets used in a dish or another. I dearly remember learning how to eat chicken necks and appreciate chicken feet, it was nothing strange for me and I never felt repulsed by it…and I think that’s because I was installed in my mind since very small, the difference between household pets and wild animals. I learnt that the latter we hunt for, we respect (hence we consume it entirely without wasting) and we survive on.
- Plum Potato Dumplings – this was the dessert-to-go whenever I would ask for something sweet. Grandmother was not a fan of modern sweets, I remember with a smile on my face how she mumbled against chocolate or store bought sweets and how she would never allow me to go to the store alone (so I wouldn’t pick sweet things – I would’ve thought probably picked something salty as I prefer savory). Plum dumplings are all over central-eastern Europe and I cannot point at a single nation of origin. They’re found in Poland, Hungary, Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Transylvania (the central part of Romania that has been included in the Austro-Hungarian territory). They are labelled as a ”comfort food” simply because they satisfy your sweet tooth and belly at the same time – the dumpling itself is made out of potato (which happens to be one of my favourite food and ingredient) and the inside is fresh plum. The plum season is naturally mid summer to beginning of winter so I remember having this treat all throughout autumn.
- Sweet Cabbage with Spicy homemade Pork Sausages or Pork Cuts – an extremely delicious dish I hold onto my memory with such love because it reminds me of wintertime the way was celebrated in small villages and the way I know it. This is a winter dish because it was mostly prepared after the traditional pig slaughtering right before the big snowfalls (done since old times in order to stock up on food and the necessary to survive winter and spare the animals the suffering of a most probable death due to the cold).
If you’re interested in pig slaughtering as an European tradition you’re welcome to read more here.
My grandfather was the one preparing the sausages and I remember how they used to hang on the strings in the back of the house, on a dry, cold place. My favorite thing to do was asking for fried sausages with cut ends so the meat from within would come out a little and become a little crunchy due to the frying…and this I would have with sweet cooked paprika cabbage.
- Lamb Meatloaf (very similar to Haggis) – containing liver, lungs, spleen and kidney meats of a lamb, onions, spices and fresh bread to make it into a dough and cook it with whole eggs inside. As funny as it sounds, while many (especially children) would be completely repulsed today only at the sound of this, I was most happy when this was prepared and would enjoy eating it with lots of mustard as the taste of it resembled a sausage.
- Transylvanian Pork Stew – every country has a stew, or so I believe, this was how my grandmother used to put it together: different pork cuts, lots of garlic, lots of homemade tomato paste, potatoes, fresh parsley and maybe something else as she almost always used to have a secret for her recipes.
I enjoyed writing this post as it brought back sweet memories of my childhood and how much I enjoyed being in the kitchen with grandmother. Or how glad I was when I was outside playing and losing count of the hours and I would see her getting out of the house to yell after me letting me know it was time to eat. Endearing memories that give me plenty of reasons to respect the traditions I grew up with, to continue them and to do as much good to my family as my grandmother did in keeping me healthy, sturdy and always happy.
I would love hearing about your own childhood dishes and what you used to eat as a child. Please be welcome to share such in my Instagram post or here! It’s lovely learning about other corners of Europe and what others use to maintain their kin happy and healthy.