Romania, with its unique blend of cultures and historical influences, offers a rich tapestry of flavors. Here are ten tips to help you enjoy the best of Romanian cuisine:
1. Start with Soups
Romanian meals often begin with a soup or “ciorbă”. Try “ciorbă de perișoare”, a tangy meatball soup, or “ciorbă de burtă”, a traditional tripe soup considered a cure for hangovers.
2. Feast on Sarmale
“Sarmale”, or stuffed cabbage rolls, is a must-try dish. These savory parcels filled with minced pork, rice, and herbs, then slow-cooked in a tomato-based sauce, are a staple at holiday feasts.
3. Try “Mămăligă”
“Mămăligă”, a cornmeal porridge similar to Italian polenta, is a traditional Romanian staple often served as a side dish or used as a bread substitute.
4. Relish Romanian Sausages
The Romanian “mici” or “mititei” (small grilled minced meat rolls) are perfect for barbecue lovers. Pair them with mustard and a pint of Romanian beer for the ultimate experience.
5. Sample Local Cheeses
“Telemea” is a popular Romanian cheese, similar to feta. Another must-try is “brânză de burduf”, a strong-flavored sheep’s milk cheese traditionally made in a sheep’s stomach or a fir tree bark.
6. Don’t Miss Out on Desserts
Romanian desserts, such as “papanasi” (fried doughnuts with sour cream and fruit jam) and “cozonac” (sweet bread with walnuts, poppy seeds, or cocoa), are truly delightful.
7. Visit a “Crama”
Experience the local culture by visiting a “crama”, or wine cellar. Romania is one of the world’s top wine producers, with notable varieties like Fetească Neagră (red) and Fetească Albă (white).
8. Explore Street Food
For a quick snack, try “covrigi”, Romanian pretzels typically topped with poppy or sesame seeds, or “plăcintă”, a type of pastry filled with cheese, potatoes, or sweet ingredients.
9. Delight in “Zacuscă”
“Zacuscă” is a mouthwatering vegetable spread made primarily from roasted eggplant and red peppers. It is often enjoyed on bread and can be found in most supermarkets and farmers’ markets.
10. Respect Meal Times
Romanians typically eat later in the evening. Lunch is the main meal of the day, served around 1-3 pm, while dinner is a lighter meal, usually eaten after 7 pm.
Romanian cuisine is comfort food at its finest, with hearty stews, warming soups, and indulgent sweets. This list only scratches the surface of the country’s culinary delights, so be prepared to immerse yourself in the gastronomic adventure that Romania offers. As they say in Romania, “poftă bună!” (enjoy your meal).