There’s no better way to celebrate Christmas than with a big, steaming bowl of chicken noodle soup.
Our host mother, Nina, prepared the soup on Sunday as a traditional dish for Orthodox Christmas, which comes two weeks after December 25. That’s Nina below behind the tureen filled with the delicious soup, which tasted like what my grandmother used to make for us when I was a kid.
My Grandma Sarah was born near Odessa, Ukraine, not far from Moldova, as I described in a previous post. Many of the foods I’ve seen in Moldova resemble what she used to serve at our family gatherings in New York. Her stuffed cabbage, for instance, was similar to Moldovan sarmale, although with beef instead of pork. Champa helped make the sarmale you see in the photo above.
Sunday’s baked chicken, pickled vegetables and salad all looked familiar, too. I made an apricot bundt cake with jam I bought in Sofia last week. We also had a plate of Romanian cookies and American Oreos, which we found in a store in Bucharest.
Many Moldovans also celebrate Christmas on December 25, as well as New Year’s, so the past two weeks have been filled with celebrations. (While I’m writing this on Sunday night, a neighbor’s fireworks are exploding outside my window.) Our host family generously invited us to join two Christmas feasts this weekend, together with their niece and the couple you see here. That’s Liviu in the green jacket showing us a pickled tomato and watermelon with our host dad, Mihai. Viorica sang several songs after dinner, with the voice of an angel, as you can hear in the brief video below, with Nina continuing to bring out more food for us.
So to summarize: chicken soup for the Christmas soul, an angel and childhood memories brought to life. There was no better way to celebrate.