Food for Thought: You’ve Never Had Anything Like This

Over at dVerse Poets, Abhra is urging us to write about our own cultural heritage via the uniqueness of our food and recipes. I thought I’d attempt something different: a prose-poem of sorts about experiencing Romanian food as an outsider, a child who had spent most of her life abroad.

You’ve Never Had Anything Like This

‘You’ve never had anything like this before.’

Uh-oh, here it comes, with warning lights!

As if I’d fall for tricks like that again. They’ve said it before, they can say it again. Too many times.

Usually, it involves something that looks like dog’s vomit covered in mayo.

Or meat wrapped up – for no good reason – in cabbage that’s gone off. They fill my mouth with sour revenge. For living abroad, for escaping them for ten months a year.

But this time, it’s a dessert. I have a sweet tooth, which I’m not allowed to acknowledge. However, this time… my carrot-munching, sugar-banning mother isn’t around. And even she cannot control what my aunt gives me in her own home.

I move in closer.

It’s foamy-white and quivers at the bottom of a bowl. I sink a spoon into its springiness and scoop it into my mouth. It melts on my tongue with creamy-egged smoothness and lingering longings of vanilla.

I gobble it up and ask for more.

‘What is it?’

‘Birds’ milk.’

From the recipe website

38 thoughts on “Food for Thought: You’ve Never Had Anything Like This”

  1. This is fantastic! And after reading the recipe — and a bit of history — the dessert looks delicious. I’ll have to try it sometime!

    1. I love hearing about other culture’s foods too – and it’s always a great (perhaps the best) way to start a conversation with somebody from another country.

  2. Marina Sofia – I love the way you fold that reaction to an outsider-who’s-not-really-an-outsider with the reaction to the dessert. And that dessert sounds delicious. Not that my diet needs that abuse, but I will check out the recipe!

  3. This is a bone fide “Food” poetic, & much more, taste buds wrapped in metaphor, swathed in human nature; a fine take on the prompt. Like the line /usually involves something that looks like dog vomit covered in mayo./

    1. That was ‘Salada Boeuf’, which to this day I find a bit nauseating – I think the French have a similar version called ‘Salade russe’. To be fair, I did not appreciate the Romanian cuisine at that age, I enjoy it much more now.

  4. I love your work Marina Sofia, thanks for sharing it…and the Birds’ Milk looks delicious! -although I’m sure when you first heard what it was called, you said, “What?!”

    1. They very nearly convinced me that in Romania there was a type of bird that fed her young with milk and this was at the basis for the dessert (I was only about 6 back then).

  5. It is good to have an aunt to spoil you. Poor mother, she meant well, but it was meant for other to show you indulgent pleasures.
    Great story and a tasty surprise.

  6. Oh my, that looks and sounds delicious. It reminds me of the filling used in ambrosia, a most delightful treat in and of itself. I much enjoyed the way you have told it. the well-earned wariness and apprehension, the delightful surprise, the touch of naughtiness – all perfectly told.

  7. I have been trying my hand at baking, and this sounds delicious! Although, I might decide to rename it. It won’t go down well my ‘guinea pigs’ I think.

  8. Ah sweetness. I am the sweet snacker type (not salty) so this one grabbed me with a lot of intense, “What is that, I want that!” thoughts. Great stuff.

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