As part of our language lesson yesterday we learnt about Romanian food; Ramona taught us about the popular foods and traditional meals.
Main meals in Romania are often meat or fish based. For example, mititei cu cartofi prăjiţi, a grilled sausage seasoned with garlic and served with chips is a common dish. Also sarmale, a very popular dish in Romania—however actually prepared throughout Europe in countries such as Turkey, Bulgaria and Croatia. It is made up of pickled cabbage leaves filled with mincemeat (often pork), onion, rice, tomato purée and seasoning. These form small parcels resembling spring rolls which are placed in a large pot and boiled for up to three hours, before being put in the oven for further cooking. Polenta is a popular side dish, as well as aubergine dishes and vegetable dishes—often mixed with (lots of) mayonnaise!
Special meals will be made over holiday periods such as Easter and Christmas. Romana tells us that instead of eating chocolate eggs at Easter, normal eggs are decorated (or just dyed) and then knocked against someone else’s as a game—trying to break their egg. At Christmas, instead of turkey, pork is a popular meat for the main meal. Another traditional food at Christmas, and other occasions such as weddings, is cozonac, a sweet bread like brioche, usually plaited to show off skill. A traditional Romanian dessert is papanaşi, resembling a large doughnut—a fried or boiled dough usually filled with soft cheese such as urdă, or a sour jam.
Wine is traditionally drunk, Romania being a high producer of wine with growing exports. Romania is also the world’s 2nd largest plum producer; plums are used to make the spirit Ţuică. Romanians commonly make wine and Ţuică themselves, and Ţuică quality is measured by its strength, normally about 40%, but sometimes up to 80%!
Many sayings and proverbs have developed around the practice of eating in Romania. Similarly to the French phrase ’bon appetit!’, before a meal a Romanian may say ’poftă bună!’, again meaning good appetite. After a meal, they might say ’să vă fie de bine!’, meaning you’re welcome. In addition, there are short after dinner rhymes to show thanks for their food:
Thank you for the meal, it was good and tasty, and the cook was beautiful!
Multumesc pentru masăă, c-a fost bună şi gustoasă, şi bucătăreasa frumoasa!
Like many countries and cultures in our ever intertwining world, it appears Romania is influenced by, and continues to adapt, dishes from elsewhere in order to make them their own—giving dishes different flavours and characters over time.