I would like to introduce you to our guest writer: Gabriela Lupu.
Gabi is a professional photographer and a new mother. She has a beautiful blog sharing her cooking experiments and parts of her inspiring life story.
I was touched by Gabi’s stories and amazed by her beautiful photos. I’m so happy she accepted to be our guest writer and I can’t wait to share her story with you!
Oranges and Christmas
By Gabriela Lupu
Oranges reminds me of Christmas. Oranges, apples and cinnamon. I grew up in Bucovina, Romania, an amazing area with great landscape, people and food. Before the revolution in 1989, we were under Communism. It was a very difficult time from all points of view: no food, no clothes, no goods and in constant threat of being evicted from your home in order to make room for prefabricated blocs of flats. My parent’s house was on the list of being evicted. All our neighborhood was on that list but we got lucky with the revolution.
I remember, my uncle waking up at 4 am and wait in line with a small chair for milk and eggs every morning. The shop would open at 7 am. Bread, flour, oil and other food were on a ration book. This will happen spring, summer, autumn or winter.
Whenever you saw a line in front of the store you would join the line, not knowing what will be available for sale. Since food and goods were so difficult to find, any line meant something to buy. You can read about my waiting in line story here. We would all be “hunting” food or goods. You could not rely on the foods in the store so my parents started planting vegetables in the garden. When you would find food in the store you would forget about the dirt on the potatoes, the dent in the apples or the cracked peppers. Meat was never prepackaged and you would buy everything there was for sale, even the bones.
We were hungry. We had a few options in the city. At my grandparents in countryside, there were fresh fruits and vegetables in the garden, fresh eggs, milk, because people had lots of animals and birds around the house.
Most of the time we would go to the grandparents and all my relatives from there will give us vegies, fruits or meat. We would bring them bread, candies, chocolate and other things you couldn’t find in the countryside.
Christmas was a happy period during the time before revolution. My mom would get a bag of sweets from her job for each kid and in the bag we had candies and oranges. That was the only time when we would eat oranges.
At the beginning of December my dad and my uncle would slaughter the pig and make sausages, and “piftie”, “sarmale” and other pork dishes.
My mom and my ant would bake Cozonac and Baba (a kind of sweet bread with poppy seeds or walnuts), homemade bread, some sweets and a molded vegetable and chicken salad with mayonnaise named “Salata de boeuf”.
The Christmas celebration would begin on Christmas Eve, 24th, when all the family would decorate the tree and sing carols. On Christmas Eve children would go out caroling from house to house and would comeback with apples and homemade bagels.
We would wait for Santa Claus. Before revolution his name was “Mos Gerila” (Old Man Frost)”. We would unpack the gifts and eat oranges. All house would smell like oranges and cinnamon from the hot cocoa. Parents would drink mulled wine.
That is the best smell in the world. This combination of cinnamon, oranges, apples and mulled wine. This is the smell of my happy childhood with my family on Christmas.