I’m hungry, so if I’m hungry I think food, as in what I would like to eat right now, which reminds me of awesome dishes I ate while on my trip to Romania and Italy. Let me take a moment to wipe my drooling.
Okay, I’m back.
While in Verona, Andrea (my cousin’s fiancé) made some awesome pasta dishes. Anchovies, black olives, prosciutto, or as simple as parmesan cheese or tomatoes only, somehow transformed pasta into super tasty dishes. “The secret is in the olive oil,” Andrea would say. We tried pizza at fancy restaurants and not so fancy, but no matter where we ate, it would be a sin to compare their pizza with ours. Prices were about the same as ours but portions much, much smaller but oh so filling. Refills are available at extra cost. Don’t recall seeing anywhere happy hour.
And then, there’s their pastry, gelato and coffee. (Drooling again). The tinniest cups, even a minion would have a tough time drinking out of one. Two sips, if you are lucky, but boy, the strength of it as much as an entire pack of coffee. I looooove coffee, and the more I drink the more I want. And yet, somehow, those two sips were enough to last me a whole day. I’m a vanilla-with-almond-ice cream kind of girl but I forced myself to try out all kinds of gelato (which is as close to ice cream as you get in Italy, only made with real stuff), and pastry.
Once in Romania I tried out more yummies, some homemade by my mom, some just ordered in restaurants. From ciorba de burta (sour cow stomach soup; it sounds gross but it’s de-li-cio-ous!!!), to salata de vinete (eggplant dip), to sarmale (cabbage rolls), to mamaliga cu branza si unt (polenta bread with cheese and butter), to papanasi (doughnuts with jam and sour cream), shaorma and so, so many more dishes, my taste buds were beyond satisfied. I was expecting to gain a lot of weight, but to my surprise I did not, in fact I lost a few pounds. I can attribute it to walking for miles every day in search for another Italian treasure or walking down the beach at the Black Sea in Romania, but I think it has mostly to do with how simple all ingredients are. Simple as in no corn syrup; sugar or salt only in moderation. Not once have I checked a label in a grocery store and saw corn syrup in anything. Is corn syrup the evil of all? I don’t know enough about it to judge or point a finger. All I know is that I ate smaller portions and felt satisfied. Food smelled and tasted better, not sweeter or saltier, but rather real.
I returned home, promising myself I will try cooking some of the pasta I had there. I did twice since then and, while wasn’t as good as it was there, it was close. And yes, I used authentic Italian olive oil courtesy of a friend of mine living there who has an olive orchard, but that’s another story in itself worth telling you another time.