I can’t say I was that familiar with Romanian cuisine a week ago, nor do I think many of those residing in Japan are, which is why we took up the opportunity to organise a special cooking session with one of our newest hosts, Ruxandra, on her trip to Tokyo last week.
Ruxandra is an entrepreneur living and working on her own “interactive business planning” startup in the Romanian capital of Bucharest. She and her Italian partner Manu joined forces to teach some of the more common traditional Romanian dishes to 7 local guests.
Ruxandra started by introducing herself and explaining a little about her cuisine before entering the kitchen. While she’d never taught cooking before, everyone found learning about a new cuisine fascinating, particularly one they knew very little about!
The first dish we learnt to make was called sarmale, which is minced meat, rice and parsley wrapped in pickled cabbage leaves. Originally found in the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire, sarmale is now considered Romania’s national dish.
Next on the menu was mamaliga, which is a yellow maize flour porridge, similar to Italian polenta, and often served together with sour cream and goat’s cheese. The dish often accompanies sarmale.
Finally, we made the appetizer of eggplant salad, which is made of grilled, peeled and finely chopped eggplant, onions and mayonnaise, and served on bread, often with sliced tomato.
Romanian food is known to take a particularly long time to prepare, but with Ruxandra’s pre-preparation of a couple of items, we spent about two hours cooking together, before sitting down and enjoying the lovely meal together. The hard work was well worth the efforts!
It was wonderful to have Ruxy in town, and we will gladly welcome her back next time! Ruxandra’s menu is available for guests in Bucharest anytime, so book a session on your next trip!