[From August Issue 2015]
Last summer Romanian-born YOKOYAMA Adina changed her job description from “Eastern European Cuisine researcher” to “Genuine Cuisine Researcher.” This was because she had broadened her role from teaching Eastern European cuisine to introducing people to all kinds of recipes that use no additives or refined ingredients.
Adina got married in 2005 after coming to Japan to work as a model in 1994. Together with her husband Daiki, she ran an importing business based in Chiba City. Being very busy with work, Adina struggled with constant skin problems. In addition, Daiki suffered from eczema and their oldest son struggled with childhood obesity and eczema.
In search of a simpler lifestyle, Adina and Daiki decided to move to Higashikawa Town in Hokkaido in 2006. Up until then the whole family had mostly eaten food at restaurants or meals bought at convenience stores, but their options were limited in Higashikawa Town. Adina, who had not so much as picked up a kitchen knife before, had no choice but to begin cooking for the family. It was then that memories of her beloved grandmother Anna’s cooking came back to her.
As Romania was part of the Soviet bloc until 1989, the country had not been much influenced by Western culture. Without using any artificial flavorings, her grandmother Anna, like many others, prepared simple home-cooked meals using only natural ingredients that had been around since ancient times. By cooking these family recipes, Adina realized that the health of her family was improving. Going without makeup, Adina also saw an improvement in her skin.
Adina, who learned the importance of food through personal experience, began to teach herself about nutrition and how to prepare dishes from other countries. Eventually, while teaching Romanian cuisine to others, she began to introduce recipes that didn’t include additives or refined ingredients. Her students were mostly veteran homemakers with advanced cooking skills, who showed interest in the idea of cooking meals only with natural ingredients. In 2013 she published a recipe book.
A decision was made to refer to natural ingredients and unprocessed food as “genuine,” and Adina changed her title accordingly. Last year Adina and her husband began sponsoring an event called “Genuine Hokkaido Village” that promoted the merits of a simple lifestyle. The event attracted 14 like-minded organizations, including a group of high school students, and by focusing on the benefits of food covered a wide range of themes including health, the environment, and even beauty.
Adina’s homemade pastries are available by mail order. The name of her mail order store is MamaMare, which means “Grandma” in Romanian. The goal is to make healthy food using simple ingredients that would’ve been found in Grandma Anna’s kitchen. She hopes that people will consider making their diet healthier, even if it’s only a little.
Text: ICHIMURA Masayo