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All About, Lesson 7 - The Top 5 Romanian Dishes You Must Try
Eric: Welcome to All About Romanian Lesson 7 - The Top Five Romanian Dishes You Must Try. In this lesson, we’re talking about Romanian cuisine!
Raluca: Bună ziua tuturor! Did you say Romanian cuisine?! Oh my God, we’ll need hours!
Eric: So we’ll just try to summarize as much as possible.
Raluca: Okay. By the way, I love Romanian food.
Eric: Me too! When we think about Romania, it’s very hard not to think about Romanian food.
Raluca: Yes, it’s an important aspect of our culture.
Eric: People tend to believe that Romania doesn’t have its own distinguished cuisine.
Raluca: That’s true. The stereotype is related to Romania’s geographical situation and historical past.
Eric: You mean the communist period?
Raluca: Yes, but also its whole history. The roots of the Romanian cuisine are Thraco-Dacian and throughout time there was a lot of contact with many different cultures.
Eric: For example, Turkish, Greek, Russian, and Hungarian.
Raluca: Meaning that today we have a diverse blend of dishes.
Eric: But before we go on to the food, let’s first talk about Romanian table etiquette. Before eating, it’s customary to say “enjoy your meal,” as a way to show gratitude for the meal.
Raluca: In Romanian that’s poftă bună. Then you should wait until everybody has food before starting.
Eric: Before drinking, we say “Cheers!” in English.
Raluca: In Romanian it’s Noroc!
Eric: Yes, I heard that word before.
Raluca: The second dish is usually a plate of meat or fish which is accompanied by a piece of bread. You should put your bread beside your plate and break off a little piece using both hands every time you want to eat.
Eric: What about spaghetti and rice?
Raluca: If spaghetti is served and you’re given a spoon, feel free to use it when you twirl it. Rice should be eaten with a fork
Eric: That’s good to remember. I always eat spaghetti the Italian way....without a spoon.
Raluca: Well...in Romania you can eat it both ways...with or without a spoon.
Eric: Raluca, I’m curious about traditional food.
Raluca: When you eat traditional food like sarmale, chiftele, or rulade you should cut them with your fork.
Eric: Really? That’s why I never saw Romanians eating sarmale using a knife…
Raluca: Exactly! Let’s continue…
Eric: If you want to pour water or wine into your glass, you should check the other people’s glasses before you pour, and if they’re not full you should pour the drink into the glasses and only after that, into yours.
Raluca: When you want to use a toothpick you can do it at the table, but you should cover your mouth with the one hand.
Eric: Lastly, any sort of guttural sound is inappropriate.
Raluca: Like slurping and sniffling!
Eric: It’s considered very rude in Romania! Now that we’re at the table, let’s talk about the food.
Raluca: Romanian Traditional cuisine is healthy and varied. Vegetables and fruits are a must on the table.
Eric: Are there many overweight people in Romania?
Raluca: The percentage of obese people is not as big as in other European countries, but unfortunately it’s growing.
Eric: Oh...That’s too bad, but let’s go back to the traditions.
Raluca: There's so much variety that even locals discover new tastes when they travel around Romania.
Eric: For someone who has tasted Southern and Eastern European cuisines, Romanian cuisine might be difficult to distinguish.
Raluca: Yes. Once I heard an argument between a Greek and a Romanian. It was all about food.
Eric: Really? How can food be the source of an argument?
Raluca: Well... they tried to find the roots of the stuffed cabbage recipe...
Eric: Which is a traditional Romanian dish.
Raluca: Stuffed cabbage is traditional in all Balkan countries and even in Armenia, Georgia and Turkey.
Eric: What makes them different then?
Raluca: The unique techniques, the spice, and the quantity of ingredients.
Eric: Food seems simple but it’s actually quite complicated. Let’s talk about the ingredients.
Raluca: The ingredients that are commonly used to created the Romanian taste are traditional Romanian cheese called telemea, onions, tomatoes, carrots, eggplant, and smoked meat.
Eric: There are many other flavors too...
Raluca: Of course, garlic, sour cream, mushrooms...
Eric: The first course is usually a soup or stew.
Raluca: There are soooo many types of soups. It can be sour soup like ciorbă, and it could be vegan, vegetarian, or made with different types of meat.
Eric: And all have different and sometimes funny names.
Raluca: Among the herbs parsley, bay leaves, celery, and lovage are the most used.
Eric: Finally, in Romanian cuisine there are a lot of cold cuts, with hundreds of types of salami, ham, sausages, and smoked bacon.
Raluca: The combination of these ingredients give us a huge choice of recipes.
Eric: Exactly, you can’t even imagine how many!
Raluca: Now we’re going to give you the top five dishes.
Eric: Let’s start with the first course.
Raluca: Okay, Ciorbă de perișoare! It’s a Romanian sour soup with vegetables and meat balls. It’s among the most popular dishes in Romania.
Eric: Let’s go on with dish number two.
Raluca: Sarmale. This is cabbage or grape leaves stuffed with a mixture of rice, meat, and vegetables.
Eric: Some people prefer the vegan sarmale, in which mushrooms are used instead of meat.
Raluca: Yes! There are different types of sarmale with different proportions that are specific to every region.
Eric: Dish number three is...
Raluca: Ardei umpluți...Stuffed peppers filled with rice, meat, and vegetables.
Eric: Vegan recipes use mushrooms instead of meat.
Raluca: Yes, and the vegetarian recipe has sour cream sauce.
Eric: Oh Raluca, I’m starting to get hungry….
Raluca: I hope it’s not a problem for you, Eric, if I tell you dish number four on our list….Mămăliga cu brânză și smântână
Eric: Oh...So simple and so delicious...
Raluca: It’s cornmeal mash with traditional Romanian cheese, Telemea, and sour cream. Extremely simple to cook, this combination can be found throughout the entire country. Usually this is the side dish for the mici grilled meat rolls.
Eric: From first courses, let’s go directly to number five, a second course.
Raluca: Number five is Pește cu mujdei și mămăligă
Eric: Fish with garlic sauce and cornmeal mash.
Raluca: The fish is grilled or fried and served with garlic sauce and cornmeal mash. People who like cheese might combine the entire dish with cheese as well.
Eric: I noticed that Romanians use traditional cheese a lot.
Raluca: There are of course Romanians who don’t eat cheese, but in general we like our telemea.
Eric: One of my Romanian friends used to eat it with bread and jam. Is it common to do that in Romania?
Raluca: Your friend must have been a real cheese lover. No, it’s not common to see Romanian people who mix sweet and salty flavors.
Eric: I see… Romanian traditional cheese is indeed salty! Raluca, I’m hungry. Let’s eat!
Raluca: Okay, but don’t forget to say Poftă bună!
Eric: Ah yes, “enjoy your meal!”
Raluca: La revedere!
Eric: Thanks for listening, everyone, and we’ll see you next time.

3 Comments

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RomanianPod101.comVerified
Wednesday at 6:30 pm
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Hey Listeners! Have you tried any of these dishes? 

RomanianPod101.comVerified
Wednesday at 3:50 am
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Hello Hans-Peter,


Thank you for sharing with us some of your favorite Romanian dishes! :)

You are lucky to have had the opportunity to taste the sarmale brought directly from Romania. To prepare it yourself can also be a nice experience.


We appreciate that you are learning Romanian with us. Feel free to write us again or let us know if you have any questions.


Sincerely,


Patricia

Team RomanianPod101.com



Hans-Peter
Sunday at 5:39 am
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I tried different meals in a Romanian restaurant here in Vienna. Mici, sarmale and other.

Sarmale îs my favorite. I tried it once at my girlfriend, who brought it directly from Romania, cooked by her mother. I also prepared it once by myself. The first choice desert is griș cu lapte, with piure de mere or fruit kompot. 😄