Cristina chiran | 24 | From Romania, living in Paris

My favourite Christmas meal is salata boeuf - the boeuf salad. From the name you might think ‘oh, but that’s just a salad’. My friend, you’re about to be introduced to a very special tradition of my Romanian family. Even a well-kept secret of Romanian society since the salad is a must for any Romanian Christmas table.

The salad is made with beef meat (hence the name, boeuf = beef in French). However, it can also be made without meat for vegetarians, or with chicken. It’s still a boeuf salad. Told you, it is a very special type of salad. This was the boeuf part.

For the salad part, there are vegetables (carrots, potatoes, parsnip and pickles) and home-made mayonnaise.  It's interesting to see how every single relative of mine, family friend or in general, anyone who offered me this, has a signature salata boeuf. My mum adds apples which makes it crunchy and balances the fatty and heavy mayonnaise. My aunt adds green peas and I absolutely love it. But my mama never agreed to add green peas. It’s like a competition to see who has the best signature salata boeuf.

I am yet to create my signature salata boeuf. Maybe it has to do with living away from home for far too long. I tried making it once in Glasgow with a Romanian-Jordanian friend. The decoration says ‘I’m tasty.’

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