When I fell for this guy (that’s us at Dracula’s castle in Transylvania, BTW…), I got a wonderful new family in the deal, and they’ve grown to take up such a huge part of my heart over the last seven years! My in-laws live in the US now, but they came over from Romania when Andrei was just a little guy. The rest of the family still lives there, which makes for a really fun vacation, but it can be hard being so far away from them, too. Hi grandmother (Mamaia) and aunt actually flew to Kentucky for our wedding, which meant the world to both of us, but on top of that, his family cooked up a ton of Romanian bites for our cocktail hour. Tragically, I didn’t get to taste a single crumb because we were off taking pictures, but it was so important to us to have Romanian culture present at our big day. As a former “Navy brat,” I know firsthand just how important a reminder of home can be!
When Western Union asked me to watch their little video Home Cooked Love from Around the World, I expected it to be really sweet and happy. However, since I’m a total sap, this part sent me overboard, and I got completely choked up… I know how hard it is — especially for my in-laws — to be so far away. They’ve hit the nail on the head with this video because for so many “global families,” food is such an axis point for creating memories, bringing everyone together, and later being transported back to those memories in a single bite. The #WUHomedCooked video shows people being surprised by food cooked from family recipes from all over the world, and you can see such a fantastic range of emotions as they realize what’s happening and take that first bite.
My fondest memory from my trip to Romania is of playing “cooking charades” with that beautiful, smiling lady in the picture below. She doesn’t speak a whole lot of English, and at the time I spoke close to zero Romanian, but she taught me to cook Andrei’s favorite recipe. Sarmale is a traditional Eastern European dish of cabbage stuffed with ground pork, and I learned how to make it through all sorts of wildly-exaggerated hand motions, punctuated by fits of laughter and thumbs-ups.
Mamaia made me a vegetarian version with mushrooms instead of the pork. She went so far out of her way to adapt this recipe for me so that I could experience the culture that much more, and I’ll never forget how much that moved me and made me feel so much more like part of her family.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.