- Soup & Stuff
Cristina Gabriela Damian can easily take time out from her cooking to do an interview because the many vegetables she has added to her Romanian soup need to simmer for a fairly long time. She tells us that even as a young child she used to stand in the kitchen. “My brother was a few years older, and often went out playing football – and so to pass the time at home I used to busy myself in the kitchen. I improved my cooking simply by doing it, although I did have a few accidents along the way.” She says matter of factly, “One time I burned the linoleum, and my eyebrow too, and now and then I am cutting and burning my fingers.”
Still, she carried on cooking – and the recipes she learned were not only for the cakes her aunt used to make (‘she made the best sour cherry sheet cake) but also for soups. “In Romania we have two kinds of soup,” she explains. “Clear broths and thicker soups with more ingredients. As a habit you eat a clear broth when you are ill.” Romanian soups typically contain a lot of meat. In Romania people eat more meat than they do in the Netherlands, says Cristina from personal experience.
Getting used to
Dutch food took ‘quite some time’ getting used to. “I like eating stroopwafels, but I will never like satay sauce. And I have to say that the fruits in Romania tastes way fresher. My Dutch friends even agree with me on that!” One of her favorite dishes has polenta, soft white cheese and crème fraîche among its ingredients.
Most of her receipes she gets from the internet and she also draws inspiration from the dishes on the menu of the restaurant where she waitresses.
Read more about Cristina below the recipe
Christina's radauti soup (Ciorbă Rădăuțeană) – available this week (as of Tuesday) at several canteens.
For about eight bowls of soup
Preparation time: about 60 minutes
You will need
Bring the meat to boil in cold water (low heat), until foam will form on the surface. While the meat is boiling, cut into large pieces: celery root (4 pieces), carrot (cut it in half, then the halves in 4 pieces in length), the parsnip (in 2 pieces, in length) and the red bell pepper (in 2 pieces, length). The onions are left whole.
Once the meat is boiled, remove from the pot, wash the pot and put clean water. Put the meat back into the pot in cold water. Add the vegetables - the parsnip, the carrot, the celery root, the red bell pepper, the onions, the bay leaves and the peppercorns. Leave to boil 45-50 minutes. After the vegetables and meat are well cooked (very soft), take them out and leave them to cool. Try to keep the pot warm.
While the vegetables and meat are cooling, chop the parsley. Garlic can be scraped through a small grater or cut into small pieces (and made in almost a paste).
Either take the meat from the bones by hand and leave it in larger pieces, or cut into equal pieces with a knife. For the original recipe, cut only the carrot into small cubes and place them into a bowl. For a more substantial soup, cut all the vegetables into small cubes and put them into a bowl.
Next, take the sour cream, put the egg yolks and the salt over it and mix with a wire whisk. Add soup (it should still be warm) with a ladle (5-6 ladles, one by one) and mix with the wire whisk. Take the mixture and place over the remaining soup in the pot and mix well.
Put the pot back on fire, over low heat. Add the meat, the carrot/the vegetables, vinegar (you can put less than 3 tablespoons, and add more at the end, if necessary), garlic and, finally, the parsley. You can add more salt if needed.
This video shows the instructions as well.
Finally, three provocative personal questions forCristina from Cursor's glass storage jar, while the chef dots the i's and crosses the culinary t's.
What are you not doing at the moment that you should be doing?
“My exercises and spending more time learning Dutch. I usually do physical exercise at home, and my equipment includes a yoga mat and a jump rope. But I should be using them more often.
I'm taking lessons in ‘Dutch for beginners’ and my exam is coming up. The grammar is going reasonably well but I find the speaking difficult; I have a mental block about it. I am also trying to learn from short Dutch films on YouTube and from children's books. I took German in high school, which you'd think would help, but I found that easier to learn than Dutch.”
Which body part are you least satisfied with?
“That is a hard one to answer. Generally, I think you shouldn't be dissatisfied with the body you've been given. The most important thing about a body is that it works properly. I've often been asked whether I have had my lips botoxed, but I haven't. I can imagine that people have plastic surgery done when it's really important to them, but it isn't always good for your health. If I had to mention something I'm less satisfied with, it's that I wear glasses. It sometimes isn't practical, like when it rains.”
Do you want to do things or do you want to do good things?
“Both. I want to get the best out of myself, and that can't be at the expense of others. I think these two things can go hand in hand. To give an example, as a manager you always have certain targets in mind. But to reach those targets you have to allow your staff to grow if you want to achieve the best results.”