Adriana Sohodoleanu, a kind of afterword to the volume The collection of sarmales and other culinary stories

Vgros The sarmale collector and other culinary stories is available for pre-order and will arrive in the first half of December. You can pre-order the book here. Until then, you can read the afterword (called by us "the afterword") of this volume written by Adriana Sohodoleanu:

In the foreword, Cosmin Dragomir tells us that it is not correct to start a text with a negation. Good advice and also a great opportunity for this trick phrase that allows me to state a negation without breaking the rules of style. So we were never really rich in culinary literature. Not that it hasn't been written - I'll fill the next two or three pages with titles and authors concerned with the subject. It will seem to you many and many and they are not all, for reasons of space and potential boredom I have given up enough. You'll say my theory doesn't hold up, and you might be right, but read to the end and maybe I'll convince you why another food book is needed.

So we regularly start with our first printed cookbooks (manuscripts from the 16th-17th centuries have limited circulation and we pretend it doesn't matter, I told you I don't want to bore you too much). The first therefore appears in 1695 and is in Hungarian; the second, in 1841 and is in Cyrillic; The cook book it has no official author, but credit goes to Sofia Tofeus. The other one is written by the Moldavians Kogălniceanu and Negruzzi, who initially do not sign it, embarrassed and aware that two boyars, men and educated in Paris, who deal with "200 tried-and-tested recipes for dishes, cakes and other household tasks" will not attract benevolent looks. It is, however, the era of great political and social changes, the revolution is knocking on the door, women are emerging décolletéFrench people, young people, tight German clothes, so the two authors quickly change their minds and assume authorship, aware, you already know, that they will make a "terrible revolution in the way of making fritters and dumplings" and hoping that the future will recognize them at least as "introducers of culinary art in Moldova". In this atmosphere of urgent westernization, the cookbook also lays a brick in the foundation of the new society.

Not long after them, in 1846, also in Moldova, Manolache Drăghici, a postman and, it is said, "the last chronicler of Moldova", translated 500 sought-after recipes from the grand kitchen of Robert, First Chef at the Court of France, suitable for all occasions. In Wallachia, the premiere goes to a woman, Maria Maurer, who publishes, in several editions, a cookbook that "comprises 190 recipes, cakes, creams, mousses, gelatins, ice creams, and how to preserve things for the winter." All chosen and tried by a friend of all housewives". Cosmin Dragomir includes the author, as you have already read, in the gallery of the great ladies of Romanian gastronomy.

From this moment, ladies and gentlemen, people from the middle stratum of society are bent on the subject and will print enough cookbooks in the next hundred years that today we consider their effervescent activity, as it was, otherwise the whole century the 19th and the first part of the one that followed it. A feverish state characterizes the age, an all-embracing revolutionary spirit; ultimately, the Industrial Revolution shows a future where, for the first time in human history, in Europe, famine can be managed, and the revolutions of 1848 challenge, challenge, demand, fight for change – all in the name of the nation's freedom.

It is the era of romanticized nationalism, exalted in thought, feelings and, more timidly, on plates - although it gives it an integrative title Romanian cuisine. Book containing several recipes for dishes and buffet, the book of Christ Ionnin (1865) offers nothing but already known recipes, borrowed, too little integrated into a cuisine of the emerging nation. Petre Lupulov, from Banat, is more pragmatic, he writes in 1857 "recipes about various (open) dishes that can be made whenever and by whom". The books have, above all, a functional character, trying to solve as many as possible, as we see in this title Good Housekeeper or Cookbook. The most practical and richest of all cookbooks written in Romanian until today. 182 illustrations in the text, 1111 recipes for various: soups, soups, aspics, dishes, steaks, galantines, puddings, cakes, creams, jellies, ice creams, compotes, jams, preserves, etc.; the author is Ecaterina Dr. S. Comșa, a graduate of the "Damen-Stift" Institute in Vienna, and she is not the only one who wants to offer a complete solution. Multiculturalism is seen as wealth in the kitchen, an answer to the perpetual question "what do we eat today?". JC Hințescŭ (1875) is not the only one who writes The newest cookbook of Romanian, French, German and Hungarian cuisine, five years later "a friend of taste" unfortunately remained anonymous, publishing 500 recipes from the cohabiting kitchens. Later, in 1934, Simona Racoviță will make life simpler by offering "Menus [...]" for the whole year (the good habit of giving menu options for each month, so for the season, can also be found at Bacalbaşa and Sanda Marin, which publish in the same period).

It is the era of science and rational approach, the connection between nutrition, demography, productivity (we would call it today biopolitics) is being discovered. Ecaterina Steriady (Colonel), author of the volume Hello housekeeper, appeared in Galați in 1871, she knows that the family is the foundation of society and that "good housekeeping recommends a good family", she admitting that "I spared no effort in the elaboration of this work and my only goal was to demonstrate to our matrons that only by taking care of the housework does abundance and economy in the house be born".

It is also an era where housewives are required to be up to date with the latest trends in the field; there is frequently a "new cookbook" attractively promoted as being "based on the most modern culinary writings", with "tried-and-tested recipes from the kitchens of all civilized peoples", collected "by several good housewives from the society of this city" and which "are recommended to good housewives for the easiest and most practical way to prepare them".

A catalytic enthusiasm circulates infectiously everywhere. Nothing is left untouched, and the cookbooks reflect the spirit of the era – they have chapters dedicated to hygiene and educating the housewife about vitamins, proteins and other essentials for the body. The townspeople look at the villagers and mobilize to teach them how to cook, because

the question of food is of great importance in the vitality of a nation. In most places our villagers are badly fed, not because they lack the necessary things, but because they do not know how to make their food more nutritious. The meeting of Romanian women from Arad wanting to make a beginning, modest as they are and the means at their disposal, after not being able to support a traveling kitchen, as is done in other nations, decided to compose a cookbook for the people.

We realize all too well that it is difficult to prepare food according to a cookbook if you do not have some skill in cooking, that many of our villagers - pain - do not read and do not know the craft of cooking, that even with living speech it is difficult to you say new and unknown things in the dialects of the lands in a way that everyone can understand, but we have every hope in the intellectuals from the villages, who with the help of this cookbook will be able to introduce the young villagers to the art of cooking. (Tulia Bogdan, 1916)

Numerous volumes position themselves by title as being "from the kitchen of the Romanian peasant". Doctors publish papers such as Peasant hygiene. Its housing, lighting and heating. Clothing, footwear. The diet of the peasant in the special times of the year and in the special regions of the country (1895). Concern for health and hygiene is evident in both the volume signed cryptically by MS  The modern kitchen with an introduction to kitchen hygiene (1881), as well as in the one entitled The Queen of the Kitchen or The Universal Kitchen for the Healthy and the Sick (1888). The latterUm will be reissued in 1931, under the title 1001 kinds of food, by Bacalbaşa. Anna Capitan Constantinescu writes  Hygiene and household management including horticulture and poultry as well as practical and modern cooking. Worked according to the necessity felt in housekeeping (1899), and in 1934 Cleopatra Agarici is already in the second edition of the volume Centenary valid through rational nutrition, with a foreword signed by Dr. Obregia. In 1942, the question was How can we live healthily and cheaply? (author V. Florescu).

If for centuries society meant hermetically isolated social classes, the 20th century is moving toward the democratization of knowledge, and cookbooks apply the tactic no man left behind. Boyar, bourgeois or peasant, they have recipes for everyone, says Adolphe Steinberg full of zeal and hope with his The newest cookbook with over 600 selected recipes suitable for all classes, drawn up by Romanian and foreign authors.

Professional or amateur? For Emil Frédéric it doesn't matter, he destroys his competition anyway when he publishes A practical confectionary manual for confectioners and private individuals, because it also comes from home in an era when professional secrecy was closely guarded.

There is The kitchen in an hour or, for those who have the skills and desire to fry, the cake recipe book with "recipes for the preparation of the finest and most complicated cakes" by Terezia Ardeleanu. The two sisters, doctor Aurelia Sachelarie and doctoral student Henrieta Sachelarie, the authors of the volume, know well that cooking is an art Art and science in the kitchen, but also Maria Colonel Dobrescu with hers Through the home to civilization, from 1924. I put the shoulder and Em. Guichard and C. Waygart by French kitchen guide, but also Elisabeta and Lorine, two housewives, one Romanian, one American, who, probably inspired by the newest Art Deco building in the city, today's Telephone Palace, publish a  Cookery book. Collection of Romanian-American recipes. Because sthe waste of art is learned, Gabrielle Tăzlăuanu offers to help them with a Very necessary cookbook for a good housewife. Because a trained staff is also necessary, Virgil Molin puts it together Waiters' Handbook. the art of serving at the Union of Labor Chambers Publishing House, Bucharest, 1939.

Carnivore or vegetarian? We also have recipes for you: Vegetarian cookbook (3rd edition in Romanian in 1912), the first book, published to date, in the Romanian language. Written and composed by Mrs. Ecaterina Dr. S. Comșa, Graduate of the "Damen-Stift" institute in Vienna, with the participation of her daughters: Mrs. Mărioara T. Guilmain and Mrs. Angela Rusescu in 1928 (sic). Laura Nădejde comes strong from behind with Practical housekeeping. New vegetarian cuisine. With 700 recipes and formulas, and Lazar Popoviciu, dean of Arad, publishes probably the first raw-vegan cookbook from us, Secret of Long Life, Fireless Kitchen, in 1930.

Rich or not so rich, peace or war? Constantin Bacalbaşa writes 1001 kinds of food. Cookbook for families and restaurants. Luxury kitchen, regular kitchen, and Zotti Hodoș, cheap meal, Madeleine Brebu, The wartime kitchen. Art of cooking substantial, tasty, varied, economical, with limited means, and Elisabeta Ciortan and Xenia Nicolau, Rational cuisine, food recipes, in 1943.

There is no point in insisting here on what the appearance of the cookbook signed by Sanda Marin meant, a volume that anthropologist Florin Dumitrescu calls "a bestseller for generations, it contributed not only to the unification of regional variants, but also to the circular transmission of some recipes standard in all Romanian kitchens". It was reissued 16 times by 1946 and seven times between 1947 and 1969, although it had strong competition in terms of the practical help it provided (at least in The modern kitchen of Maria General Dobrescu published in the same year) or of writing (Bacalbașa and the style practiced by the journalist bon viveur).

There are dozens and dozens of titles on the market in this first century of printed cookbooks; their success is seen in the number of reissues; besides them, there are also leaflets, small collections of recipes and useful tips, all kinds of thematic prints. The change of regime in 1947 did not reduce the number of culinary publications, on the contrary. The state, through its ministries, prints a lot and not necessarily waste, as we would be tempted to think. It's true, a lot is printed quantitatively, a little qualitatively, and here I'm thinking about that one deja vu given by browsing many volumes – copy paste on repeat, because collective property flourished well thanks to the place left free by the abolition of intellectual property rights. The original volumes are rather surprising in what it is in addition to the standard body of recipes. The books gained long chapters dedicated to scientific nutrition, bourgeois, cosmopolitan and decadent names and ingredients that did not fit the new socialist man were censored, they gained in doctrine and lost in functionality. Ideologically, cookbooks addressed everyone without discrimination, standardized recipes and projected the image of a prosperous society while actually ignoring the austerity in stores. Their transformation into propaganda tools makes them all the more interesting as we learn from them how the woman was seen - yes, a "housekeeper of the revolution", but one who was required to be a good housewife able to receive guests, an idea that had to do with presenting wealth and education – advantages of a lifestyle comparable to that of the West. Is this written in Silvia Jurcovan, Nicolae Olexiuc, Sanda Marin adjusted edition or in Irina Dordea? Not. Not black and white.

A cookbook says more than the functional literature it contains. It talks about belonging and difference, about Us and the Other, about the multiculturalism of an area, waves of migration or foreign occupation, even about nature and the wealth of natural resources and human creativity determined by them. Cookbooks also taught us mothers what it means to be a woman, the gender role also involving responsibility in terms of nutrition and therefore the health of the family. On the other hand, today's cookbooks put the world on our plates and, at the same time, put everything in our mouths - recipes failproof full of details, with the entire process structured, with photos for each stage and troubleshooting that sends your brain on vacation.

Well, you see, I've only now come to the essentials. Silently I made the transition from enumeration to analysis, from books to ideas, from recipes to manifest message and from there to the latent one. This is what Cosmin Dragomir has been doing for years. He talks and writes about food on the side of the recipe, crocheting around it context and impact, histories and anecdotes, warnings, rebukes and invitations, thereby opening new windows to wider approaches. Food stories are more than storytelling; they place an ingredient, a technique, a dish or a consumption habit in historical, geographical and cultural context; they show us that food is a mirror of society. That's why we need Cosmin and those like him, because they make it easier and more pleasant for us to relate to food as an identity marker, a metaphor of the era, a place of resistance in the face of globalization, a lesson in history, aesthetics and opportunity for escapism than as a simple, tasty and ephemeral fuel. As long as only cookbooks are written, we are guaranteed to eat well and diversified, but only when cookbooks and other things are written, the menu is truly complete.

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