Category Archives: Romanian Cuisine

Taste Your Way Around the World: Romania

We are all different from one another, we enjoy doing different activities, our preferences are not always the same, and we never see things in a similar way. But we all want to get to know the places we travel to, as well as to understand cultures and traditions.  To do that we must get closer to people, and we all know that besides music, what gets us closer to each other is usually what’s on the table: local food.

So, if you plan to travel to Romania, besides getting in touch with its history and culture, you should also taste your way around the cities and the villages you visit. Since Romania offers its visitors an incredible culinary experience, your expectations will definitely be met.

Not only that the Romanian cuisine is fantastic, but it is also intriguing since it is a delicious mixture of flavors gathered from all the traditions people came in contact with, before building its own character. So, you will be served dishes that might have influences from the Ottoman, German, Serbian, Bulgarian and Hungarian cuisines.

Start a Perfect Meal with a Peasant’s Platter

All great meals begin with a delicious starter, don’t they? While in Romania, you have a diversity of options, but by far the best one is the famous Peasant’s Platter, which is available in all traditional restaurants. The great part is that it offers foodies a delicious combination of tastes, so you kind of get the chance to taste your way around Romanian starters.

Photo credits @Cristina Marin

What exactly does the Peasant Platter bring? Well, you get fresh Romanian cheese, as well as the tangy cheese we call “burduf”, homemade sausages, head cheese, local bacon, pork scratchings, tomatoes and onions. This sounds delicious, doesn’t it? Of course, you will enjoy these delicacies with homemade bread. In addition, I would also order some tasty eggplant salad.

Romanians Can’t Live without Their “Ciorba”

When I was a child I was always told that I would never grow up if I didn’t eat my “ciorba”. This is how mandatory this dish is!

Photo credits @Cristina Marin

“Ciorba” is what Romanian people call their soups, which mainly consist of various vegetables and meat. Since most people eat a “ciorba” a day and if they skip a few days they begin feeling sick,  there is no way you come to Romania and don’t taste a few of the traditional soups.

One of the core soups in Romania is made of beans and smoked meat. It is delicious and most people eat it with fresh onion. Another really special soup that I only ate in Romania is the peculiar, but really tasty tripe soup. A bit sour and spicy, this is what many people eat to get rid of a hangover. So, whether you have a hangover or not, you must have a sip! Don’t be fooled by its yellowish colour because it’s delicious!

“The Best Vegetable is Fresh Pork Meat” 

Romania is the country of meat-lovers. There are many vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants, but the most delicious traditional meals are made with meat. People here even joke around saying that “the best vegetable is fresh pork meat” and the truth is that Romanian really love eating pork. No wonder one of the best main courses in this beautiful country is called Pomana Porcului (Pork Feast). If you order this, you get fresh meat fried in fat and served together with pickles and polenta. Might raise your cholesterol level but it is absolutely mouthwatering!

Another interesting pork part you should eat while in Romania is the pork rind, called sorici. It is actually the skin collected from softer parts of the pig and served uncooked or boiled with garlic. Last, but definitely not least, don’t even think about leaving the country without eating pork scratchings. They are a delicious aperitif especially when you add warm bread and fresh onion.

These are just a few of the many delicious Romanian foods, but you would need more than one visit to try them all since the dishes differ from one region to another. Well then, “Pofta buna!” (Bon Appetit!).

How can you experience Romania like a local?

Wherever you travel, beyond the lists of sights to check, you might enjoy more to have a taste of what life for the locals is.

It actually doesn’t matter where you are and for what reason, if you ask me, experiencing any place like a local does, has a special power to create unforgettable memories. You don’t have to be very adventurous but you do need a certain level of courage to step away from being a traveler and you need not be a tourist for sure.

As a Romanian living in Romania and creating for you bespoke trips in my country, I can tell you how and where you can experience Romania as a local. It could be that you can translate this list to other places, in the end we’re quite similar across cultures and countries in the way we live day after day.

Here are my 3 tips for you:

  1. Go to a local market. Whether you want to buy something or not, ask for the most typical market in the village, town or city in Romania. Whether it’s a permanent market or a temporary one, take time to go in the early hours of the morning. Mingle with the other shoppers, the Romanian people rushing to buy what they need for the house. Stop by the cheese stands and ask to taste the various types of salted cheese. Buy if you like one a lot. See what people have on their tables. Try to distinguish the local and seasonal products from those that are imported. In July and August look for the large and often strangely shaped tomatoes. Definitely buy one; if not, at least smell it. Yes, smell the tomatoes. You’ll be amazed. Find an old lady selling herbs and see if you recognize them all. Smell the dill, the parsley, the more local leaves used for soups and other courses.
Have your pick! Source:PresaGalati.ro

Create your experience: take this a step further and buy a couple of ingredients for a picnic. You can find everything and your guide can help you learn and choose a variety of seasonal products.

  1. Take a tram or a bus for a short ride. There is no better way to experience the life of local people than by using the public means of transportation. I am biased here as I have a passion for riding trams every now and then. I feel that for those 20 minutes that we share the tram ride, everyone is part of the story despite the different stories we all come from, bring to the tram and go towards after the end of the ride. So try it out. Get yourself a ticket and alone or with a guide, go for a short ride in any city. Observe the people around and feel like someone belonging to that particular city.
Buy a ticket first 😉 Source: Metropotam.ro

Create your experience: plan a whole day using just public means of transportation. I can guarantee some adventure and some good stories to tell to friends afterwards.

  1. Attend a special event. This can be the most fun ride you have been on in a long time. I’d recommend attending a local wedding, if possible in a place where traditions are still kept. Ask your guide to translate the exchange of lines between the groom and the parents of his bride as he comes to ask for her hand. Pay attention to the negotiation going on when the bride is taken away. Definitely dance on typical Romanian music and enjoy all the food. If it’s not a wedding, maybe it’s a religious holiday or an important ritual in the life of a family. While these experiences cannot be produced on demand, ask for such opportunities and definitely don’t hesitate if they come your way.
Take off your shoes and just dance! Source: BD

Create your experience: plan ahead of time to increase your chances of being part of such an event.

Have I convinced you to go off the beaten track when you travel and experience life as local people do? Wherever you go next, try it out 😉

5 Romanian traditional foods you can eat in winter

Every season has its particularities and the Romanian culture adapts to each and every one of them, from the habits the people undertake until the very food they prepare. In this case, in the winter season, the rich meals cooked in the fall from all the land’s bountiful resources get replaced with others, specific for the cold weather, that are meant to not only help you get through it more easily, but offer a specific flavor as well.

So, what are the these specific foods you can eat while visiting the Romanian lands in the winter? Well, let’s take them by turns.

1. Zacusca

You are in Romania in the cold season? You definitely need to eat zacusca. This traditional food is very widespread among Romanians in the winter, being preferred among many when the cold season hits. It is also a perfect choice if you’re a vegetarian, given the fact that it is made totally out of vegetables. You can eat it in many ways: either spread on crust bread, as a topping on rice or sandwich spread. You are free to make your choice, we promise the rich taste remains the same.

Zacusca spread over bread slices
Source: adinahadean.ro

2. Aspic jelly

To be totally in tone with the cold season, you can also ask one of your Romanian friends to serve you with Aspic jelly, they’ll definitely have one around the house. Cooked usually around Christmas, Aspic jelly is one of the dishes frequently met in the Romanian cuisine, made out of pork meat, usually trotters given that they contain a significant portion of connective tissue, or chicken.
Depending on the region you’re travelling to, in order to be sure you’ve asked for the right dish, you can ask your friends to serve you with a portion of racitura or piftie.

Meat jelly in plate
Source: wikipedia.com

3. Stuffed cabbage rolls

This is the dish that made people fall in love with Romanian cuisine. If you haven’t had the chance to try it by now because you haven’t visited Romania in the cold season, now it’s your chance to grab a dish of stuffed cabbage rolls. Having pork meat at its core, the stuffed cabbage rolls are usually rolled in either cabbage, but in certain areas of the country you can find them rolled in vine leaves. Depending on the area you find yourself in, you can try out either one. Bon appetit!

Stuffed cabbage rolls on plate
Source: caietulcuretete.com

4. Boeuf salad

Another dish you can definitely try out for the pleasure of your taste buds is none other than the boeuf salad. It’s usually cooked along chicken or beef soup given that its ingredients consist of the same meat and the vegetables you put along with it. You might wonder what about the name? Well, it’s the French word for beef, and despite being a traditional Romanian dish, it was actually invented by a French chef, thus its name.
It might not be such a high-end cuisine like the French or Italian ones, but it will definitely offer you an out of the box experience, so you definitely need to try it out if you ever find yourself around here in the cold season.

Boeuf / Beef salad
Source: jocooks.com

5. Cracklins

Another type of food you can definitely try once you visit the Romanian lands in the cold season are none other than cracklins. Made out of pork skin, fat and meat, cracklins are a type of food you’ll definitely find in the Romanian cuisine, that can be seasoned with some onion or garlic next to it, something you’ll find a lot of Romanians doing… and well, eating, of course.

 

Source: savoriurbane.com
Source: savoriurbane.com

So, what do you say? Tasty enough for you? If you are not sure about it, why don’t you come on over and give it a try? You never know what surprise awaits you at the end of the other side of the table. Some tasty cracklins or a piece of bread with some zacusca spread all over it can be part of your next culinary adventure.