An Interview with Maria: talking about food and virtual life along with a platter of bruschetti and a glass of sangria

by Daniela

Bruschetti&Sangria - Maria

I am so glad to start the new series “Intervew” by presenting you Maria! She is the author of the blog LaMartinia which is quite popular in Bulgaria for years. She is also a mom of two beautiful daughters. I admire so much the frankness of her style and her ability to write about everyday stories in a fascinating way.
We met each other because of my contribution in her new site Parentland: a very interesting place where different writers share stories about parenthood (and not only). I found it by chance about the time when I went back to work after maternity. I was very keen on the idea of being one of the Parentland’s contributors because there were so many things I wanted to share about parenting!
I was very pleased that Maria agreed to be interviewed for Dani’s Cookings and even more when she told me that normally doesn’t accept proposals for contributions but this time she is making an exception for me.

Daniela: Tell me about Parentland and how did you decide to start this project?

Maria: For a long time I had the idea for such a site but I never found the time and the strength to start it. At the end of last year I changed my job, I was also in a difficult personal time in my life and this project was like an outlet for me.
I wanted to have a place where people could talk about family, parenthood, children and relationships with no instructive tone, no artificial pathos and no “expert” opinions like in the moms’ forums. This type of platform is popular in US for a long time now, it is not something unseen and truly innovative, but a Bulgarian equivalent didn’t exist yet. I am glad that this site is now a reality and that it keeps developing. And the fact that several imitations emerged right after Parentland means that a place like this was really needed.

D: Your writing style is so interesting and enthralling! I know that you have a philological degree but this is not a really a prerequisite. When did you start expressing your thoughts in a written form?

M: I’ve been writing since I was a child… I am joking: is there a child that doesn’t write! Perhaps the beginning was at High School, I always liked the humanities. I started writing more often when I created my personal blog. Apart from being a pleasure, writing is also a kind of therapy for me. I like to verbalize and share my thoughts, it makes me feel relieved, sets me up, puts the chaos in order and leaves a memory about a specific time. I believe that writing must be a smooth process, any difficulty would be noticeable and it would spoil the reader’s experience.

D: How do you deal with the haters: in Internet and in life

M: With the time I got used to ignore the Internet ones, they are extremely uninteresting to me. In the past I used to reply to them kindly and to give them explanations like if I was a schoolgirl. Nowadays I am just blocking them if they are too rude and provocative. In fact such cases are rare but they exist. Some of these people are quite funny in their aims to demonstrate superiority. The anonymous ones are my favourites: they don’t even have the courage to stand behind their position with a name.
Regarding the real life haters: I just exclude them from my circles. As the time passes it has become easier for me to do it. I feel it very strongly, even physically, when there is a negative energy directed towards me, and I run away. I don’t have any more powers and time to try to neutralize it.

D: What is your most favourite food?

M: Peppers, any kind of cheese, the homemade pepper spread of my mom, nice and fresh bread, juicy steak, soups, well prepared seafood, hot and spicy food. It is always a pleasure for me to try unknown and unusual combinations.

D: Which are the nicest food related memories from your childhood and which are the less pleasant ones?

M: The best ones are certainly related to meals prepared by my mom. To the fresh pork meat that we were eating in my village, the stuffed oven baked lamb with a crispy crust, the chicken and rice stew with lots of fresh onion that one of my grandmothers was cooking, the peppers stuffed with white beans which the family of my mother was preparing during the whole year (and not only for Christmas, when it is traditional).
The less pleasant ones are the meatballs in a white sauce and the pudding in the kindergarten. I don’t hate any particular type of food, I just dislike the food that is badly made.

D: I am quite interested in the following question: what does your family eat normally for dinner in the weekdays and do you manage to cook.

M: After the birth of my first daughter I got some kind of sudden inspiration, seems like it comes together with the motherhood. I literally started cooking from one day to another. Afterwards for three years I became a culinary columnist. Somehow this culinary wave went away and I got a bit bored with this topic. In the last 2-3 years I cook accidentally and I experiment less and less: I guess this is not very good.
We often eat out or grill food (meat, vegetables, fish). There is always fresh salad on our table. Sometimes we order take away food, we cook eggs or improvise something with the products we have. Very often my mom cooks for us and we transfer boxes back and forth 
We don’t make spectacular weekly menus or plans, we enjoy having guests and preparing quick and tasty meals for them. I don’t like very fancy dishes with too long preparation time: cooking should be easy, pleasant and without any tension.
My kids are not picky, they like simple and well known dishes but also enjoy trying new things. They eat big quantities of fruit and vegetables by their own will and this is very relieving for me. They don’t follow a particular diet, we don’t limit the type of food they eat, only the quantities. It might not be correct but this is our way. I think that by having freedom and receiving a good example at home the children form their taste and learn to make a reasonable choice.

D: Considering your dynamic everyday life divided between work and family, if it happens to you to find yourself alone at home for a whole evening, how would you relax?

M: I would sleep. I would switch off the computer at least for a few hours. I would read in silence. Or I would paint one of the walls, without being bothered with anything else. Mainly boring things.

D: Do you want to ask me anything?

M: I just want to wish you luck with your new project 🙂

D: Is there a question that you would like to answer but I didn’t ask you?

M: No, I think all questions were pretty good, it was a pleasure for me.

At the end, in this hot weather when everyone is in a summer mood, Maria is presenting us a variety of appetizing bruschetta accompanied by fresh white sangria. This is the ideal menu for a casual summer party or why not for a romantic dinner in the middle of the week.

Bruschetti - Maria

Bruschetta platter

Bruschetta with cottage cheese and tomato concasse

– Bread slices (you can use rusk, baguette, ciabatta or any other favourite bread)
– Cottage cheese
– Pink tomatoes
– Spicy green peppers
– Basil
– Parsley
– Extra virgin olive oil
– Sea salt

Cover a slice of bread with a layer of cottage cheese. Peel the tomatoes and cut them in small pieces together with the peppers, basil and parsley. Add salt to taste and spread the vegetable mix onto the cheese. Sprinkle olive oil on top.

Bruschetta with goat cheese and roasted pineapple

– Bread slices
– Soft goat cheese
– Fresh pineapple
– Honey

Slice the pineapple and roast it on a pan. Crumble the cheese and spread it over a slice of bread. Arrange the roasted pineapple onto the cheese. Sprinkle some honey on top.

Bruschetta with olive paste

– Bread slices
– Dark olive paste
– Spring onions
– Lemon juice
– Fresh or dry oregano
– Extra virgin olive oil

Spread thinly the olive paste onto a bread slice. Sprinkle on top some oregano, lemon juice and olive oil. Cover with finely sliced spring onions and more oregano.

Bruschetta with bratwurst and green mustard

– Bread slices
– Bratwurst
– Mustard with green herbs
Cut the bratwurst in thin slices and roast them for a minute on a pan. Arrange them on a slice of bread and garnish with the mustard. If you don’t have such mustard you can make it yourself by pureeing fresh herbs (parsley, basil, dill) and mixing them with some Dijon mustard.

Bruschetta with smoked salmon

– Bread slices
– Butter
– Smoked salmon
– Raw red pepper
– Lemon juice
– Dill

Spread thinly some butter onto the bread slices. Arrange the salmon and pepper slices over the butter. Sprinkle some lemon juice and top with dill.

White Sangria - Maria

White sangria

– 2 parts dry white wine
– 1 part original apple sider
– Sparkling water
– Fruits: apple, red orange, pineapple, lemon

– Clean, peel and cut the fruits and put them in a jug or carafe with wide bottleneck
– Pour the apple sider and the white wine over the fruit
– Add sparkling water for more freshness
– Let the sangria stay in the fridge for at least 15 minutes before serving

pictures: Maria Ilieva

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