Oriental Quinoa Salad and Flashback Friday: Romanian Roots

TGIF!!

I used to actaully go to yoga teacher training school in weekends, but since I finish in December, I can finally have two days to relax a bit!

Anyhow, I skipped flashback friday last week so I thought I’d do it this week.

This week’s flashback is to June 2000. I was 13, and my mom’s family decided to do a little family renunion by taking a trip to together to our “root” country. You see, my mom’s family originated from Romania. Most of them fled the country before WWII.

At the time, I was kind of, “Oh god, this will be SO boring! Why do we have to go to Romania!? Can’t we go to Paris like a normal vacation?!”.

But actually, it was a lot of fun.

Granted, my mom’s family is big, so only a sliver ended up going (and we all live in different parts of the world, mind you). My sister, my mom, and I went together. And we were the only ones from the US. My mom’s twin brother came who lives in Israel, and her older brother came (who at the time lived in Australia).

Anyhow, I knew nothing of Romania. Except that my grandmother was born there and that Dracula lived there.

We stayed in Romania’s largest city, Bucharest the first day. It was nice because we stayed in a five star hotel which resembled any other five star hotel in the world.

My mom, my sister, and I in the hilton in Bucharest, the most lavish hotel in Romania

But that was as luxurious as it got. You see, Romania was borderline third world country, or at least still very primitive. Case in point:yea, we saw lots of those! Anyhow, all of my family went on a bus from town to town. We stayed I think in like six different towns. All of them 2 or 3 star hotels. And to translate that into American hotels, thats more like zero stars. We had this lovely hotel guest in front of our room.

At least the milk was fresh...

I’m sure your all wondering how the food was….Was it exciting, exotic flavors, with the top restuarants in the country.

Hell to the no.

The food was awful. I’m sorry to my roots or whatever, but I was not impressed with Romanian food. There was this disgusting, overly fatty soup called “Ciorba” which my cousins quickly dubbed, “Fatty Ciorba”. It seemed like it was served in every single restaurant we visited! I don’t know how it was made, but it seemed to be made out of chicken fat with a little broth a vegetable or two thrown in for some color. Gag!

me and the family, trying to eat that fatty ciorba

We saw a McDonalds in one of the cities we visited, and it was the best Big Mac I’ve ever had.

But all in all, I actually enjoyed seeing primitive lives. I bonded with my mom’s side of the family and discovered a country I would have never considered going to on my own. And the people there were so friendly and kind. We visited the village where my grandfather grew up and the people living there invited us in for tea!

And lord knows those Romanians know how to dress:

No, I'm not in this picture, thankfully

The sad thing about this trip was that it was my mom’s last. You can tell she’s bloated in the picture from chemo treatment and shes actually wearing a wig. She died that December. This trip meant a lot to her and I think she enjoyed herself immensely.

What about you? Where are your roots? For the record, I actually learned on the trip that my family was more Austrian than Romanian because they lived there when it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Oh, and of your wondering about my dad’s side, I’m pretty much Polish. Now go make fun of me.

Ok, and now for a recipe thats totally not Romanian!

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water (for quinoa)
  • 1 orange
  • sliced almonds
  • your favorite greens

Dressing

  • 1/3 cup soy sauce.
  • 1 tbs freshly grated ginger
  • juice of one orange
  • 2 tbs sesame oil
  • 1 tbs honey

Put the quinoa in a sieve (strainer), rinse thoroughly under cold water, then tip into a large pan. Pour in cold water to cover and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 – 12 minutes, until tender. Drain and leave to cool.

Prep your veggies. Supreme your orange (I dont feel like explaining how to do this, check out how to do it here) and get out your favorite crunch greens.

Make a dressing by mixing the oil, ginger, soy sauce, honey, and citrus juices. 

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss again until well mixed. Top with almonds. It looks too healthy I think…..

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21 thoughts on “Oriental Quinoa Salad and Flashback Friday: Romanian Roots

  1. Yum! Love the combination of flavors in your salad; orange, soy, sesame…it sounds beyond delicious! I’m such an avid reader of your blog but I think this is my first-ever comment! I recently started my own healthy living blog so I’m making an effort to speak up in the commenting world now:) Thanks for the yummy recipe, can’t wait to read more and hopefully hear from you!

  2. Food aside, it sounds like the trip was pretty enlightening and very special for your mom. Thanks for sharing it with us!

    I am half Swedish, half Irish, but I don’t do or eat many things related to those cultures.

  3. Loved hearing about your family’s roots and your mom 🙂 I loved learning about my family. Both my grandpas were really good at remembering things about our families. Some things we have recorded, but not everything has a picture to look back on. We come from a mix of backgrounds: German, Italian, English, Swedish, umm and I think something else.

  4. Thanks for sharing! I’m a ‘heinz 57’ and have a little bit of English, German and English in me. I think there are a couple more as well…lol. I know a little bit about where each came from, but not near as much as I’d like. Maybe one day when I get SUPER bored I’ll work on a family tree. I think one of my aunts started one a while back, so that might be something worth digging into a little.

    Can you believe I’ve never had quinoa?? Sprouts has some raw in bulk so I may grab a scoop just so I can at least try it. Whats the best way to prepare it to see if I like it? Cook it like couscous or rice or something? You’d think with as many quinoa recipes floating around in the ‘blogisphere’ I’d know this! lol!

  5. I think it’s cool you’re so connected with your ancestry and culture. I know I’m Irish and Scottish, and that’s about it. I’ve always wanted to research more about my families history, but I wouldn’t know where to start! There are websites, but they all cost money, which I don’t want to shell out! Lol!

  6. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy your travel posts. This trip looks amazing. I love non-normal-experience-the-heart of the country traveling. I’m always learning something about you as well. I didn’t know your mom had died of cancer. I’m sorry.

    I’m a mutt but supposedly have a lot of Irish.

  7. I really love your travel posts ! I always wanted to have family in exotic countries, but I was not lucky in that. Though now that I moved to the US, Greece sounds pretty impressive to most people! 🙂

  8. I’m a bit of a geneaology nut, and so far I’ve been able to discover that my family’s your typical “mutt” variety–German, French, English & Dutch. Supposedly we’re also a bit Welsh or Irish on my mom’s side, but I have yet to find any proof. And supposedly the Dutch branch of our family tree was also Jewish, but I have yet to find any proof there either. Supposedly one of my husband’s ancestors helped found Harvard/Yale/some-other-Ivy-League-school-on-the-East-coast. And legend has it that on my mom’s side we’re related to Jefferson Davis (president of the Confederacy during the Civil War), and while I’ve been unable to pinpoint that link, the resemblance between members of my family and his portraits is downright uncanny.

    Family history & legends aside, I’ve never had quinoa either, but I’ve kind of been afraid of it (I know, why be afraid of a grain?). Still, it’s all over the blogosphere these days, so maybe I’ll hop on the bandwagon sometime soon. And I really like your travel posts…I’ve only been to Wales, England & Ireland. I’ve got a long list of places I’d love to be able to visit before I die.

  9. This is a great recap and it’s so special you got to do this. I am from Eastern Europe and I visited a few countries from the Eastern Block and food is NOT their specialty. Most of it is bland and could use a spoon or 2 of spice- any kind of spice!

    Your quinoa salad looks fabulous- just healthy enough!

  10. I like seeing your old pictures from way back when we didn’t have digital cameras.

    My roots are from the Philippines. I grew up here but visited the Philippines a few years ago after 20 years. Oh man, what a culture shock that was and I came home appreciating everything that I have here. I pretty much complained a lot less after my trip there.

  11. Oh babe I’m sure your mom appreciated this trip with you so much, even if the food sucked. Good memories to have, fatty soup or not!

    And now my stomach is literally growling at the thought of oriental quinoa salad. I ‘m really craving oriental flavors lately.

  12. I’m sure you are not trying to be offensive, but labelling any country as ‘primitive’ is really politically incorrect. I see what you are trying to say, as I’m from that part of the world, and it really does seem a lot less developed than the United States, however the word primitive just carries really negative connotations. I’m sure you are not trying to be offensive, but labelling any country as ‘primitive’ is really politically incorrect. I see what you are trying to say, as I’m from that part of the world, and it really does seem a lot less developed than the United States, however the word primitive just carries really negative connotations. It’s like calling indigenous people ‘savages’ or something like that. Basically the word ‘primitive’ ‘implies an ignorance of non- industrial people. I’m sure you didn’t mean it like that, I’m just putting it out there.

  13. I think I’m pretty much a European Heinz 57. Really interesting to learn about your trip to Romania! I lived in Europe for a while but never made it to that country. I’d love to get there someday, though, they have some awesome wildlife I’d be interested in. See any cool animals while you were there?

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