As we are reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula, we noticed Jonathan Harker mention several dishes he enjoyed while in Transylvania. In fact a few times he even made a notation in his journal to get the recipe for Mina so she could learn to make it for him back in England. Audrey and I thought it would be fun to attempt to make a dish Jonathan mentions in the book. Since Audrey is a vegetarian, it ruled out Robber Steak and Paprika hendl (a spicy chicken dish) so Mamaliga it is!
Jonathan mentions having this “sort of porridge of maize flour” for breakfast while in the midst of the Carpathian mountains on his journey to meet the Count. After a bit of research, I learned that mamaliga was commonly a peasant food used as a staple and a substitute for bread, however over time it has transformed into a classy dish, now even served in upscale restaurants. My husband’s heritage is strongly Eastern European, from the Ukraine, so this was a personal history lesson for us as well, eat what his ancestor’s probably ate daily.
Traditionally, mamaliga is made from yellow corn meal…Unfortunately, I only had white corn meal so our mamaliga is different than true Transylvanian mamaliga. We ended up making two batches since the first recipe was heavy on salt.
We made a desert using our second batch of mamaliga…the recipe I found stated as a desert to add powdered sugar and plum jam on top. We were skeptical of adding jam on top so we drizzled with melted butter, sprinkled with powdered sugar, a touch of cinnamon (our own idea) and sliced plum pieces. The result was surprisingly tasty! We even had discussions on how to alter things when we try again in the future.
I stored both batches of mamaliga in the fridge. The following morning, I used the first, salty batch to make breakfast. Now I am quite certain the mamaliga Jonathan enjoyed was much better than what I managed to come up with, but my concoction was still edible. If I ever attempt this breakfast dish again, I would make a few changes, like cutting the pieces thinner and even incorporating butter into the mamliga batch while cooking it. Overall it wasn’t terrible. My husband and I both ate this breakfast version of mamaliga. Our version’s recipe was thin slice of ham and thin slice of cheddar cheese between two pieces of mamaliga, dipped in beaten egg and fried in butter.
This was a fun experience. In the future we will continue our attempts on making food and dishes mentioned in the literature we are reading.