Romanian traditional cuisine gastronomy wine

The Romanian cuisine is extremely generous in offering its products, the materials for which come from zones with various physic

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The Romanian cuisine is extremely generous in offering its products, the materials for which come from zones with various physical features. From the plains it takes cereals, sugar beet, green peas, beans, carrots, cabbage, pimentos and tomatoes. The hillside supplies potatoes, maize, but also grapes and all sorts of fruit. From the mountains, from sheepfolds and cattle herds come milk, cream, cheese, as well as meat. All over Romania hunting and fishing provide cuisine with an impressively diverse raw material.

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All year round people store food to have from one season to another.

In autumn, their cellars are filled with potatoes, cabbage, vegetables, fruits; in winter they make meat preserves for the spring and summer months, while in spring and summer they make fruit jams and juice preserves for the whole year. In autumn the preparation of pickles and zacusca is almost a ritual performed in each Romanian kitchen. Cauliflower, gherkins, bell peppers, young watermelons or cabbage are pickled in brine or diluted vinegar, with carrots, celery, pepper, garlic or dill as spices.

Zacusca is made from aubergines, bell peppers, onions and tomato juice either according to a classical recipe or according to the housewife's taste, with other ingredients added. Sealed and sterilized in order to keep, the jars with zacusca then take their due place on the cellar's shelves, until the time comes for them to delight the palate during winter holidays.

A ritual preserved by the Romanians since ancient times is the slaughtering of swine for Christmas. The traditional dish on this occasion is tochitura served with mamaliga and pickles and accompanied by plenty of wine. The moment marks the beginning of the Christmas holidays, with the string of feasts always including such dishes as sarmale (minced pork rolled in sauerkraut leaves or vine leaves), pork sausages, toba, caltabos, and chisca. For the caroling young people, the housewife always cooks walnut cakes and apple or pumpkin pie, or cozonac (traditional pound cake usually made for religious holidays).

After the Christmas and New Year holidays there comes the great fasting period of Lent, meant to purify both the body and the soul. In spring the Romanians eat more and more greens, lettuce, green onion and garlic and other green leaves. During this period the Romanian's food consists of vegetable soups or broth with green onion, sauerkraut stew, or iahnie made from potatoes or beans and served with pickles or sauerkraut salad. Baked pumpkin or baked potatoes or onion replace cakes, meeting the need for sugar and supplying energy.

On the 9th of March the Romanian Orthodox Church celebrates All Saints' Day, the day of the 40 martyrs of faith. In the region of Moldavia, housewives make mucenici (martyrs) from leavened dough arranged in the form of an 8-figure which after baking they brush with honey and sprinkle with crushed walnuts. In the region of Wallachia, the mucenici come in a different form: tiny eights are made from unleavened dough and boiled in water with sugar and then crushed walnuts and cinnamon are added.

Traditional Easter dishes are all based on lamb and cottage cheese. Roast lamb, lamb stew with green onions and garlic, lamb broth, and lamb haggis are all so delicious that the Easter celebration is rightly considered a victory of life both in Heaven and on Earth.

Romanian Easter eggs are true masterpieces. Decorated with floral or zoomorphic motifs, the Easter eggs from Bukovina, Banat, Moldavia, Transylvania and Wallachia are world famous. Pasca, a pie made with cottage cheese, and cozonac are always on the Easter table.

A food almost all Romanians enjoy is mamaliga. It is tasty, easy to prepare all year round and it can be served with almost any dish. All it takes is a pot with boiling salted water into which maize flour (malai) is poured. When it thickens it is stirred either with a wooden spoon or with a pot stick until it becomes a homogeneous paste. When it is ready it is turned on a wooden plate. It is served hot with cheese and sour cream, with sarmale, tochitura, with poached eggs or stewed sauerkraut, with sausages or with iahnie, with anything.

No matter how tasty the food is, you need good drinks too. From ancient times wine and spirits completed the Romanians' meals. The old Romanian wine sorts are: Barbeasca, Feteasca, Grasa, Tamaioasa Romaneasca. At the beginning of the 20th century some French wine sorts were imported, the new ones adapting perfectly to their new environment. Among them are Riesling, Merlot, Sauvignon, Cabernet, Muscat, and Chardonnay. As a proof of their quality, Romanian wines won a lot of gold medals in international wine contests. Although wine is the main beverage in Romania, traditional spirits like tuica (plum, apple or pear brandy), palinca (very strong plum or apricot brandy), visinata (sour cherry brandy), afinata (bilberry brandy) or brandies made out of cherries, blackberries, raspberries or (wild) strawberries are also very popular. Beer was brought in Romania 200-300 years ago, when first breweries were built. But maybe you are not so interested in alcoholic drinks, and you would like to try some soft drinks. Compotes are prepared in autumn by housewives using all kind of fruits and stored for the following seasons. Also in autumn you can drink must (not fermented wine). In the summer you can try socata, a very refreshing elder tree flowers beverage. Another traditional beverage is braga, very popular few decades ago.
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