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Romania Cuisine

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, Serbians and Hungarians.

Quite 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 and calf foot soups (shkembe chorba or iskembe), or fish soups, all of which are soured by lemon juice, sauerkraut juice, vinegar, or traditionally borş (fermented wheat bran). The category ţuică is a generic name for a strong alcoholic spirit in Romania, while in other countries, every flavour has a different name.

Romanian recipes bear the same influences as the rest of Romanian culture: from Roman times there still exists the simple pie called, in Romanian, plăcintă and keeping the initial meaning of the Latin word placenta. The Turks brought meatballs (fried mititei or perişoare in a soup called a ciorbă); from the Greeks there is the musaca (moussaka); from the Bulgarians, a wide variety of vegetable dishes like zacuscă; from the Austrians there is the şniţel (schnitzel) and covrigi (hot pretzels); from the Hungarians, their ornate pastries; and the list could go on.

One of the most common meals is the mămăliga, a cornmeal mush, for a long time considered the poor man's meal, but it has become very appreciated in recent times. 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.

In conjunction with special events or periods, different recipes are prepared. During Christmas, traditionally every family slaughters a pig and cooks it using a wide variety of traditional recipes like cârnaţi – a kind of long sausages with meat; caltaboşi – sausages made with liver and other intestines; piftie, a jelly made from parts like the feet, the head and ears; and also tochitură (a kind of stew) is served along with mămăligă and wine and of course sweetened with the traditional cozonac (sweet bread with nuts or lokum – rahat in Romanian, known in English as Turkish delight).

Lamb is traditional for Easter: the main dishes are roast lamb and drob – a cooked mix of offal, meat and fresh vegetables, which is quite similar to Scotish haggis, served with pască (pie made with cottage cheese) as a sweetener.

Wine is the main drink and has a tradition of over two millennia. Romania is currently the world's ninth largest wine producer, and exports have increased in recent years. A wide variety of domestic (Grasă, Tămâioasă) and worldwide (Italian Riesling, Merlot, Sauvignon blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Muscat Ottonel) varieties are produced.

Also Romania is the world's second largest grower of plums, and almost all of those plums becomes either the famous ţuică (a once-refined plum brandy) or palincă (twice-or-more-refined plum brandy). Also beer is highly appreciated, generally blonde pilsener beer, after the German style.




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