My life in food: Emma Raducanu on Romanian cabbage rolls and what she eats before a big match
The former US Open champion talks about her multicultural upbringing, indulging on chocolate and her Chinese grandmother’s homemade dumplings.
I have so many memories of my mum and grandma cooking dumplings. When I’d go back to China, we’d all crowd round a tiny kitchen table — it was a great way to spend time with family and I miss those days very much. Prawn, egg and chive is probably my favourite dumpling, but there’s also pork and Chinese cabbage, and another one is pork, sauerkraut and celery. There are so many different variations.
My Romanian grandma would come over to England and her home-cooked meals were always amazing. She’d make sarmale, a traditional Romanian dish of rice and meat wrapped in sauerkraut cabbage and boiled in a pot with tomato sauce for a couple of hours. It’s really good; you’d have it with polenta — they love polenta in Romania. She’d also make ciorba, a brothy soup. She’d stand in the kitchen from 8am until 4pm and make these dishes, and that’s all she’d do every single day. I have a lot of fond memories of growing up with her.
I absolutely love the hawker markets in Singapore. I like the diversity there; there are the hawker markets, but you can also get high-end food if you want to completely switch it up. I also love Korean food; the seafood tofu jjigae I had in Seoul is one of my favourite dishes. Japanese food is another one! Oh my god, I could eat so much sushi and sashimi! But if I could only have one dish, it’d be black cod. I’ve never actually been to Japan and would love to go; they’re masters at work and really take pride in what they do. Another place I’d like to visit is Cuba — fried plantains are out there with some of my favourite things.
As an athlete, I need to focus on staying hydrated and being healthy before, during and after matches. I think that’s why partnering with Evian is so great for me because it helps ensure that I’m in good stead for my match, and training and feeling good. Nutrition wise, it’s changed over the years. I’d have pasta two hours before a match but I’ve stopped that and now go for rice and fish, and sometimes sushi if they have that. I like to have something carby because I need the energy for the match.
After a tournament, my main indulgence is chocolate — it’s probably my biggest weakness. I’d say I eat pretty healthily, but when it comes to chocolate, I really need to rein myself in. And also steak, which I don’t eat very often and went two years without having it, but more recently I find it’s a good way to repair the muscles post tournament. After a match, I keep it pretty clean seeing as I have to go again the next day.
I don’t cook lunch or dinner very much, but I always make myself breakfast. One thing I make every day, which has become a bit like my morning meditation, is Greek yoghurt with oats, fruit, crunchy peanut butter — it has to be crunchy — cinnamon and honeycomb. I’ve got into honeycomb recently and it’s a gamechanger.
My milk frother is the first thing I pack — it comes around the world with me. That’s another thing I do in the mornings, I make my coffee really frothy. It’s definitely one of my musts in life. I love the taste, it’s not even for the caffeine.
Emma Raducanu is Evian’s Global Brand Ambassador for 2023.
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