Monday, May 2, 2011

On a Gypsy’s Trail

Early this morning I walked a short distance behind a woman so beautiful I imagined she had wandered off a Hollywood movie set. Everything about her appearance was gorgeous and exotic. Not the type to approach women with a facile come on, I satisfied myself with drifting in her wake enjoying the wafting trails of a delicate fragrance, verbena I thought. Perhaps fortune smiles upon the patient man. In no time at all a sudden gust of wind tore a slip of paper from her hand and sent it spiraling toward me, requiring only a quick jump to the right with extended arm to snatch the paper from its backward flutter.

Hoping for a scribbled phone number, it turned out to be nothing more than an ordinary recipe of some kind. But the woman, flustered for a moment turned in a circle, eyes darting left to right for a glimpse of her wayward square of paper. Only fifteen feet behind, I held up the captured paper to show that it had landed in my hand. And in this way the door to an introduction opened.

I returned the slip of paper and for my leaping catch won a half hour of the woman’s company. I was right in imagining there was something exotic about her. In the most romantic of all possible scenarios, she turned out to be a gypsy girl from Romania with a name straight out of the Brothers Grimm. She called herself Florina. Who am I to doubt that mothers in Romania choose such fabulous names. In another odd twist I learned she was employed as an au pair by a family in Maitland, that they were weekending at the beach and she had been given the morning off. The recipe turned out to be a rather un-Romanian casserole that she found in an American magazine and wanted to attempt. In our unfortunately short time together I at least managed to get the recipe for what I shall call a “Gypsy Chicken Casserole.” Sadly, the story ends with me dining alone on the dish beautiful Florina plans to cook for her host family.

—A very American recipe I romantically call GYPSY CHICKEN CASSEROLE


3 cups of cooked and cubed chicken breast

1 box of Uncle Ben’s Long Grain & Wild Rice, Original Recipe

1 can cream of celery soup

1 bag of frozen French style green beans

1 large onion chopped

1 cup of Hellmann’s Real mayonnaise

1 can of water chestnuts either diced or sliced

1 medium jar of sliced pimento

1 small package of slivered almonds

Salt & pepper

Penzeys Northwoods seasoning (optional)


Cook the rice either on the stove or in a rice cooker. Brown the chicken lightly, seasoned with salt and pepper and if on hand, a sprinkle of Penzeys Northwoods seasoning. At the same time cook the green beans with the chopped onion. In a large bowl mix the cream of celery soup with the mayonnaise, careful to mix it well. Combine the other ingredients and mix well. Fold in the soup/mayonnaise mix continuing to stir until all the ingredients are thoroughly blended. Wipe a 3 quart casserole dish with butter and pour the casserole mix in. Bake it uncovered in a 300° oven for twenty minutes. Remove the casserole, add the slivered almonds, dot the top with butter and return to the oven for ten minutes.

Maybe a green salad and some steamed summer squash or broccoli to fill out the menu.


  1. Gypsy Chicken Casserole sounds delicious but if that is a picture of Florina the beach girl gypsy then I am leaving immediately and will search all the homes in Maitland. Florida. If it's just a photo from your monthly "Gypsy Life" magazine, thanks are still in order.

  2. The girl and the pictures of the food are all beautiful. Sorry you had to dine alone.

  3. I don't want to be the "party pooper" but, it is for sure a photo from "Gypsy Life". Nice story, but the girl in not a gypsy. She is a famous 100% (not gypsy) roumanian actress and singer from Romania. Her name is Nicoleta Luciu. The picture was probably taken when she played in a telenovela called: "inima de tigan"(gypsy heart) as a gypsy girl. Nicoleta is a mother of 4 children, 3 of them, right, considering her perfect figure...the recipe not romanian, but looks delicious, thanks.


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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America