The Romanian cuisine, although its regions are influenced by neighbor countries, is made out of food “for the soul”. Romanians are known for their simple but heartfelt way of cooking.
Here are some specific foods from various regions of Romania:
Probably the most popular traditional food of Romania is the “Mici” or “mititei”, which basically mean “little ones”. Ground beef or pork is shaped cylindrically and then grilled. They are always served with mustard and are present. Mici have an urban legend, they were created when an Inn in Bucharest, known for its sausages, ran out of animal intestines.
Cabbage rolls are made out of a mixture of ground meat and rice rolled into cabbage leaves. They are commonly served with sour cream. It bears the same name of “sarmale” in 10 other countries, such as Turkey, Greece or Palestine.
Cluj has developed a personal take on the sarmale, with the Cabbage a la Cluj, considered the same but without the rolling process.
Cornmeal with salty cheese and sour cream is another Romanian dish specialty, which can be eaten with sausages or sarmale, or alone.
Speaking of sausages, Romanians like them smoked. To make smoked sausages, ground meat is spiced with paprika, salt, garlic and cumin and then pressed into an animal intestine, then placed over to smoke. There is also the smoked bacon, which is made from the fat of the pig.
Greaves are made by frying pieces of fat that were salted prior. It is commonly served with red onions and bread.
With the butchering of a pig, there is a traditional dinner to thank the people who helped. After processing the food, people have the “pork feast”, which is meat, liver, bacon, ribs and hocks fried in the pigs’ fat.
The fried dough is an ancient traditional kind of desert in Romania which is usually filled with sweet cheese. Other deserts are: sweetbread, papanash with cow cheese and blueberries and jam pancakes.
One of the core foods in the Romanian cuisine is the bean soup with hocks.
In Moldova the soup is flavored with dill or tarragon while in Transylvania it is thickened with flour and sour cream, sometimes even vinegar. Beans are also used in another culinary delicacy, the bean paste with smoked meat, originating from Transylvania. Another traditional Transylvanian dish is the potato goulash with smoked meat, a kind of stew.
Another popular soup is the vegetable one from Radauti, Moldova. It is somehow similar to tripe soup, another highly demanded soup, but it is made of chicken and lots of vegetables. In Transylvania, there’s the vegetable soup with pork which has a special flavor due to tarragon.
In the summer, with the harvesting of the corn fields comes the delicacy of boiled or grilled corn cobs. In the autumn, there’s the baked pumpkin. When all vegetables are harvested, women make zacusca, a paste usually made of baked eggplants, red peppers and onions. There are many varieties of zacusca, probably even from family to family.
Some dishes are prepared only with the occasion of certain holidays, like the beef salad, which originates from the Russian salad. The “salata boeuf” consists of carrots, parsley roots, eggs, potatoes, beef, pickles and peas, all boiled and cubed, and then mixed with homemade mayonnaise. Lamb haggis is traditionally served at Easter.
A peasant’s platter is also essential at festive meals; it is made out of various types of meat, cheese and vegetables, to suit everyone’s taste.
These are just a few of the foods that Romanians love to cook and to serve their guests. For more, tourists will have to taste for themselves.