Romanian cuisine is a diverse blend of different dishes from several traditions with which it has come into contact, but it also maintains its own character. It has been greatly influenced by Ottoman cuisine, while it also includes influences from the cuisines of other neighbours, such as Germans, Serbs, Bulgarians, and Hungarians.
Quite a few different types of dishes are sometimes included under a generic term; for example, the category ciorbă includes a wide range of soups with a characteristic sour taste. These may be meat and vegetable soups, tripe (ciorbă de burtă) and calf foot soups, or fish soups, all of which are soured by lemon juice, sauerkraut juice, vinegar, or traditionally borş. The category ţuică (plum brandy) is a generic name for a strong alcoholic spirit in Romania, while in other countries, every flavour has a different name.
In history of Romanian culinary literature, Costache Negruzzi and Mihail Kogălniceanu are the compilers of a cookbook ″200 reţete cercate de bucate, prăjituri şi alte trebi gospodăreşti″ (200 tried recipes, pastries and other household things) printed in 1841. Also, Negruzzi writes in "Alexandru Lăpuşneanu": "In Moldavia at this time, fine food wasn't fashioned. Greater feast could have included few courses. After Polish borş, Greek dishes follow, boiled with herbs floating in butter, after that, Turkish pilaf, and finally cosmopolitan steaks".
The Dacians produced wine in massive quantities. Once Burebista, a Dacian king, angered by the wine abuse of his warriors, cut the vines; his people gave up drinking wine. Legend says that the Dacian people created their own beer. As a result, beer was made by Romanians.
With Romans, came a certain taste, rooted in the centuries for the pastry made with cheese, like alivenci, pască, or brânzoaice. The Romans introduced porridge, as well as polenta, which inspired variations of millet porridges.
Maize and potatoes became staples of Romanian cuisine after their introduction to Europe. Maize in particular contributed to an increase in nutrition level and health of the Romanian population in the 16th and 17th centuries, resulting in a population boom.
For 276 years, Romania was under the rules of the Ottoman Empire. Turkish cuisine changed the Romanian table with appetizers made of eggplant, peppers or other vegetables, as well as various meat preparations like spicy chiftele (deep-fried meatballs, a variation of kofta) and the famous mici (short sausages without casings, usually barbecued). The various ciorbă (sour soups) and meat-and-vegetable stews, such as iahnie de fasole (beans), ardei umpluti (stuffed peppers), and sarmale (stuffed cabbage) are also of Turkish (and Arab) influence. The beloved rich (Romanian) tomato salad is a variation of the Lebanese dish. There is a unique procession of sweets and pastries combining honey and nuts, such as baklava, sarailie (serai-gli), halva, and rahat (Turkish delight). These sweets are nowadays used in confectionery, such as cakes.
Romanian recipes bear the same influences as the rest of Romanian culture. The Turks have brought meatballs (perişoare in a meatball soup), from the Greeks there is musaca, from the Austrians there is the şniţel, and the list could continue. The Romanians share many foods with the Balkan area (in which Turkey was the cultural vehicle), Central Europe (mostly in the form of German-Austrian dishes introduced through Hungary or by the Saxons in Transylvania), and Eastern Europe (including Moldova). Some others are original or can be traced to the Roman or other ancient civilizations. The lack of written sources in Eastern Europe makes it impossible to determine today the punctual origin for most of them.
One of the most common meals is the mămăligă, a type of polenta, served on its own or as an accompaniment. Pork is the main meat used in Romanian cuisine, but also beef is consumed and a good lamb or fish dish is never to be refused.
Before Christmas, on December 20 (Ignat's Day or Ignatul in Romanian), a pig is traditionally sacrificed by every rural family. A variety of foods for Christmas prepared from the slaughtered pig consist of the following:
Cârnați – sausages which may be smoked and/or dry-cured;
Caltaboș – an emulsified sausage based on liver with consistency from fine (pâté) to coarse;
Sângerete (black pudding) – an emulsified sausage obtained from a mixture of pig's blood with fat and meat, breadcrumbs or other grains, and spices;
Tobă (head cheese) – based on pig's feet, ears and meat from the head suspended in aspic and stuffed in pig's stomach;
Piftie or Răcitură – inferior parts of the pig, mainly the tail, feet and ears, spiced with garlic and served in aspic;
Jumări – dried pork remaining from rendering of the fat and tumbled through various spices;
The Christmas meal is sweetened with the traditional cozonac, a sweet bread with nuts, poppy seeds or rahat (Turkish delight).
At Easter, lamb is served: the main dishes are borș de miel (lamb sour soup), roast lamb and drob de miel – a Romanian-style lamb haggis made of minced offal (heart, liver, lungs) with spices, wrapped in a caul and roasted. The traditional Easter cake is pască, a pie made of yeast dough with a sweet cottage cheese filling at the center.
Romanian pancakes, called clătite, are thin (like the French crêpe) and can be prepared with savory or sweet fillings: ground meat, cheese, or jam. Different recipes are prepared depending on the season or the occasion.
According to the 2009 data of FAOSTAT, Romania is the world's second largest plum producer (after the United States), and as much as 75% of Romania's plum production is processed into the famous ţuică, a plum brandy obtained through one or more distillation steps.
List of dishes
Ciorbă de cartofi
Ciorbă de burtă
Supă (de pui) cu tăieţei
Borş is fermented wheat bran, a souring agent for ciorbă. Borș is also used today as a synonym for ciorbă, but in the past a distinction was made between borș and ciorbă (acritură), the souring agent for the latter being the juice of unripe fruits, such as grapes, mirabelle, or wood sorrel leaves.
Ciorbă ţărănească (peasant soup), made with a variety of vegetables and from any kind of meat (beef, pork, mutton, fish)
Supă (generic name for sweet (usually clear) soups, made out of vegetables alone or combined with poultry and beef). The difference between Supă and Ciorbă is that the meat and most of the vegetables are removed, the resulted liquid being served with dumplings or noodles. There are also a number of sour soups, which use lemon juice as a souring agent, called Supe a la grec (Greek soups).
Piftie - preparation is similar to the French demi-glace. Pork stock reduced by simmering is placed in containers, spiced with garlic and sweet paprika powder, the boiled pork meat is added, and then left to cool. The cooled liquid has a gelatinous consistency.
Ghiveci - vegetable stew or cooked vegetable salad, similar to the Bulgarian gjuvec and the Hungarian lecsó
Ghiveci cǎlugăresc - vegetable stew prepared by the nuns in the monasteries
Iahnie - beans that are spiced up and cooked until there's no more water, forming a soft sticky sauce binding the beans together
Fasole batută - boiled beans that are mashed up, spiced with salt, pepper and a bit of garlic. It is served with diced and fried onions and tomato paste or sauce.
Mămăligă - cornmeal mush, also known as Romanian-style polenta. Mămăligă can be served as a side dish or form the basis of further dishes, such as "mămăligă cu lapte" (polenta with hot milk), "bulz" (baked polenta with Romanian sheep cheese and sour cream), "mămăliguță cu brânză și smântănă" (polenta with telemea (Romanian cheese similar to feta) and sour cream), etc.
The generic name for cheese in Romania is brânză, and it is considered to be of Dacian origin. Most of the cheeses are made of cow's or sheep's milk. Goat's milk is rarely used. Sheep cheese is considered "the real cheese", although in modern times some people refrain from consuming it due to its higher fat content and specific smell.
Brânză de burduf is a kneaded cheese prepared from sheep's milk and traditionally stuffed into a sheep's stomach; it has a strong taste and semi-soft texture
Telemea, cow's or sheep's milk white cheese, vaguely similar to feta. The traditional "Brânză de Brăila" (a type of telemea, which has become quite scarce) is spiced with Nigella Damascena seeds, which give it a unique flavor.
Urdă - made by boiling the whey drained from cow's or ewe's milk until the remaining proteins precipitate and can be collected, traditional product