What else is there aside from Bucharest’s rich history, culture, and landmarks? Well, of course the country’s cuisine is something that all visitors discover and enjoy sooner or later. So today we’re going to talk about some Romanian dishes you must try when visiting Romania and it’s capital city .Be advised though… this article isn’t about fine dining, healthy eating or fancy restaurants. And it isn’t for vegetarians either. (That we’ll cover in another article). This one is for hardcore carnivores and all the dishes we’ll cover are made with red meat. Some are real classics here, so you should be able to find them in most restaurants and pubs.
1.”Mititei” or ” Mici” – a Skinless Sausage
On top of our Romanian dishes list, by popular choice, is “mititiei” or “mici” . These are skinless sausages that are juicy, spicy and simply delicious.Mititiei are easy to be found in most restaurants, pubs and even at any large street market. They can be served as “fast food” or as a restaurant meal. They are served with mustard, fries , pickles and we recommend you always wash them down with…Romanian beer!You certainly guessed it by now, Mititei is the traditional choice for almost all barbecues we throw around here, no matter the occasion.The name “mititei” translates as “small ones” /”little ones” , / “wee ones”.Legend has it that the first ” mititei ” appeared – almost by accident – in a butcher shop in Bucharest. The owner was selling grilled products prepared in his small shop. One spring day, he had so many customers that he actually remained without the sheep intestines which he used to fill with minced meat mixture. So he would be placed “dumplings” of meat directly on the hot grill. ( There is a saying in Romania that this dish was known as “fried dumplings”- but that is another story). The clients got a kick out of “the wee ones without skin,” and along these lines these skinless sausages came to be known as mititei or “the wee ones”.
2. “Carnati de plescoi” – Plescoi sausages
Coming on second place on our Romanian dishes for the meat-lover list is the Plescoi Sausages. Thus is the Romanian take on the classic fiery, Moorish lamb sausage (Merguez). Our version is thinner, made with fewer spices and should the mutton be too fat, up to a third veal meat is added. What makes it really different from anything else out there is the curing process, the smoking and drying of the sausages.
3. Pork Feast – “Pomana Porcului”
Not likely to find this one very easy. “Pomana porcului” is a traditional dish, made around Christmas time. Romanians like pork on the Christmas table, the same way Americans like turkey on Thanksgiving Day. The meat pieces must be chosen from different parts of the pig: loin, liver, bacon, ribs, pork collar. Pork feast is an ancient tradition, involving a thank-you dinner to honor those friends and relatives who helped in processing food obtained from butchering a farm-raised pig. For the feast, all the parts from the pig are boiled down than rendered in the melted fat.Usually served with polenta and pickles.
4. Tochitura moldoveneasca – Moldavian melted meat
This is a simple stew, not unlike the pork feast, but usually besides the pork cuts, some beef , tomato sauce and and onions are added. And if that didn’t convinced you, let me just mention that it is traditionally served with over-easy eggs , cheese and polenta (mămăligă). Obviously a very hearty dish, you will find this in most traditional Romanian restaurants. You could pair it with a red wine (Merlot if you are a new red-wine drinker, Pinot Noir for a more seasoned drinker)
5. Sarmale – Romanian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
Traditional Romanian Cabbage Rolls are made with salt-brine pickled cabbage stuffed with pork and beef minced meat and rice.
Nowadays everybody and their mother tend to add a little bit of bacon, either in the mince or around the rolls, but that only makes them the best cabbage rolls you will ever have.
“Sarmale”, or stuffed cabbage are enjoyed all year-round in Romania because this is a very tasty type of food than ca be eaten with sarmale and yogurt, but is eaten especially for holidays like Easter or Christmas.
The sarmale, can be made with pork, sauerkraut, cabbage and tomatoes.
6. Salamul de sibiu
A dried salami, that does not undergo any thermal treatment, cured with the help of mould Sibiu salami is a Romanian deli made with pork’s meat, pork’s fat, salt and condiments.The story of Sibiu Salami starts in 1885, when an Italian mason, that had an incredible talent for mixing spices with meat moved in Romania, somewhere near Sinaia. Taking advantage of Sinaia-s climate , sometime around 1910 he created a dry salami, initially called „winter salami”.As it happens with all great creations, the receipe soon picked up and the product started to travel further and further. It soon passed the mountains into Transylvania, through the Sibiu Customs. As such, the export stamp for the salami was „Sibiu customs”.The external orders for the sa salami made near Sinaia, were referred to as „Sibiu customs salami” and later as Sibiu Salami. The recipe was improved by Transylvanian Saxons in the 70’s.During the communist era, the salami of Sibiu was considered a luxury product with a reasonable price. The cost of 120 lei per kilo was equivalent of 24 kilos of sugar.The Sibiu salami is served at breakfast or as part of a starter. It is also commonly used for sandwiches.
7. The original pastrami – pastramă
Saving the best for last, we’re fininshing the Romanian Dishes guide for the meat lover with pastrami. The original pastrami is a Romanian dish and it is a must try for any meat lover. The word pastramă is etymologically rooted in the Romanian a păstra, which means “to keep” or “to preserve”. In terms , the word “a pastra” is thought to be rooted from the Latin word pastor who means shepherd. So Pastramă is originally shepherd’s meat so lamb or mutton. However, since lamb or mutton is a meat that is tougher and stringier, in most restaurants you are more than likely to find beef brisket pastrami. The real product, found in traditional markets, or traditional restaurants, will differ from the one made famous in New York. But if you are lucky and find a well cured, well prepared pastrami..well lemme just say that the taste is epic and a full plate is bound to induce a food coma and necessitate a nap.Usually served with polenta and a garlic sauce called “mujdei”.
Other bonus meat- treats, usually served around Christmas time. or as part of traditional entree :
- Slana – Brinned, smoked cured pork belly
- Sorici – Outdoor hand-baked pork skin
- Jumari – Pork scratchings à la Romania
As a tourist, it isn’t easy to sample all the Romanian dishes that are worth mentioning. That is why we’ll stop our list at number 7. However if you’re the type of person who can go from meal to meal without taking a break, then I salute you. Still, you may want to consider a few activities like walking and sightseeing , while in Bucharest.