tradition and innovation in romanian cuisine l.
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TRADITION AND INNOVATION IN ROMANIAN CUISINE . - a short approach -. A part of the cultural heritage of a nation is the variety of traditional food , kept unchanged for generation to generation.

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A part of the cultural heritage of a nation is the variety of traditional food, kept unchanged for generation to generation.
  • Romania has some traditional ways to prepare food, characteristic for each region of the country and the tourists who tried once a traditional dish will come again to taste it.
Every historical regions of Romania have its own specific in culture and customs, reflected in the folk music, the architecture of the houses, the traditional costumes and, of course, in local cuisine.
  • Traveling across Romania the tourist can meet a mix from old and new elements which represent the charm of the country.
Romanian cuisine is diverse, blending the dishes of several traditions which it came into contact with, as well as maintaining its own character.
  • Romania's cuisine was somewhat influenced by the other peoples that lived on its territory such as the ethnic Hungarians and Germans that are still living in the middle and western parts of Romania.
  • Also, some Greek, Slavic, Turkish and French influences are felt. But the oldest influence comes from the Dacian-Roman era.
The truth is that Romanians like to eat, and they eat a lot and well. They do not think of cholesterol or low fat diets unless they are dying.
  • An existential Romanian question is: We eat to live, or live to eat?
A great number of proverbs and sayings have developed around the activity of eating:
      • The innocent child's thank you:

Thank you for the meal

it was good and tasty

and the cook was fat

Some simple saying:
    • Love passes through the stomach or
    • Appetite comes while eating or
    • Hunger is the best cook
  • The sarcastic proverb:
    • Ate well, drank well, in the morning woke up dead
  • Half true, half joke:
    • The best fish is always the pork
Recipes bear the same influences as the rest of Romanian culture:
    • from Roman times there still exists the simple pie called plăcintă,
    • the Turks have brought meat balls (mititei - fried meatballs or perişoare in a meatballs soup),
    • from the Greeks there is the musaca,
    • from the Bulgarians there are a wide variety of vegetable dishes like zacusca,
    • from the austrians there is the snitel and the list could continue.
specific character of cuisine in muntenia region
Specific character of cuisine in Muntenia region
  • The Muntenia region stretches along the Danube, over the Romanian Plain up to the Carpathian Mountains.
  • This region’s cuisine is influenced by the French gastronomy, but we can meet dishes of Mid-Eastern origin.
Some particular dishes from Muntenia are:
    • dried prune stew or prune with meat stew
    • pumpkin pie (notably during winter)
    • duck with olives
    • goose jelly or pork jelly
  • In the region are notable wineries.
specific character of cuisine in oltenia region
Specific character of cuisine in Oltenia region
  • The province of Oltenia is laid in the south of Romania.
  • These usually hurried people are very attached to their specific dishes and are especially fond of spicy, peppery meals. The usually simple Oltenian cuisine is always lavishly seasoned with horse radish, pepper, and chilli pepper.
Oltenian sausages are famous:
  • They are made from equal amounts of beef and pork chopped finely with a knife and mixed with garlic, pepper and salt, the paste being then stuffed into sheep guts. Then the sausages are smoked for two hours.
cuisine from transilvania
Cuisine from Transilvania
  • Transylvania is a province inside the arch of the Carpathian Mountains.
  • For a foreigner to realize what the typical Transylvanian likes to eat, he should think of the taste of a piece of smoked lard or bacon eaten with an onion and bread fresh from the oven, together with a glass of strong prune brandy.
  • Such food would do good even to someone exploring the North Pole !!
Pork is by far the favorite meat in Transylvanian cuisine. Locals don’t usually eat fish, since the province is crossed by quick rivers where fishing is not possible. In exchange, vegetables are enjoyed as much as meat is.
  • Cabbage a la Cluj is a dish as famous as the Moldavian sarmale or the Oltenian sausages. Chopped cabbage is alternated with mince in a dish and baked in the oven, after which it is served with sour cream.
The Transilvania region is rich in wineries and large surfaces with plum trees, apples trees and pear trees.
  • From this fruits the local peoples prepare a very good and strong brandy.
  • The most known is the plum brandy named palinca (almost 50 alcholic degrees);
specific character of cuisine in dobrogea region
Specific character of cuisine in Dobrogea region
  • Dobrogea is the region stretching between the Danube and the Black Sea, where the gourmet is tempted by a mix of flavors and tastes belonging to the Romanian cuisine with Greek, Turkish, Tartar and Bulgarian influences.
  • Tourists coming to this region will long remember the delicious tripe soup, noted for its nutritional value as well as for the fact that it is said to be a “medicine” after bacchic excesses.
Other dishes from Dobrogea’s cuisine that might tempt the traveler are plachia de crap (carp cooked with onions and oil), spitted lamb and various sorts of fish prepared in a very simple manner and served with garlic sauce.
  • The turkish influence is seen in the specific cakes with walnuts and syrup called baclava and sarailie and in the turkish coffe, with a strong flavor.
the region of moldavia with its northern part bucovina
The region of Moldavia with its northern part – Bucovina
  • During the last 10 – 12 years Moldavia and especially Bucovina becomes the region with the biggest number of rural pensions and motels where cultural and historical tourism is mixing in a perfect way with culinary tourism.
Moldavian cuisine is said to be the most refined of all.
  • The cakes made in this part of the country are so many and diverse one loses count. Weddings, baptisms, winter and spring holidays and even funerals are as many occasions for each Moldavian woman to show off her culinary art.
  • The tourists can taste the famous poale-n brau - small pies filled with sweet cheese.
The specific of this area is the using of the sour cream at “almost everything”.
  • The sour cream may be the base ingredient for some tasty sauces and cakes, as well as a very important element who complete the final taste and aspect of some dishes.
  • Is added in the delicious chicken soup, is served with fresh cheese and polenta, or near the “sarmale”.
Polenta always accompanies Moldavian sarmale (meat rolls in cabbage leaves), a famous dish served in Romanian restaurants around the world. These meatballs rolled in cabbage or vine leaves are made from minced pork, beef or both types of meat, mixed with rice, salt, pepper, chopped dill and parsley as well as chopped onion; small portions of this mixture are then rolled in sauerkraut or vine leaves and boiled.
The region has big areas covered by forests were are a lot of good mushrooms.
  • The most tasty is Edible boletus. It is cooked in a specific manner with a cream sauce and little pieces of garlic and is served with hot polenta.
Another particular dishes are using the trout form the mountain waters:
    • Fried trout with polenta and garlic sauce
    • Trout in cream sauce
    • Smoked trout
Moldavian tochitura differs from the same dish made elsewhere in Romania. It is made from pig’s liver and kidneys chopped finely, mixed with pieces of lard and fried. When this mixture is fried, a glass of wine, pepper and garlic are added and the whole is simmered for a few minutes. This dish is never served without polenta.
Moldavian wines have been known for five centuries. There are vineyards that can be visited by the tourist which can taste wines awarded with prizes at international wine competitions.
  • Every year during autumn the restaurants organize days for tasting must ‑ the fermented grape juice, new wine offered with smoke-dried salt sheep meat.
From the point of view of innovation, the Romanian food products or the Romania cuisine has “borrowed” the methods used at international level.
  • The major innovation in this area is the using of food additives.
The food additives are substances added during the preparation of the foods in order to improve the nutritional value and the sensorial properties.
  • All over the world are known aprox. 3000 food additives.
  • In Romania are used aprox. 200 food additives.
All the additives are classified in Codex Alimentarius, every one has E letter followed by a 3 or 4 digit number.
  • The using of additives was considered an important innovation for diversification of the food products.
  • But the food industry exaggerates in using this substances or used some one incomplete tested from the point of view of theirs secondary effects on the human health.
benefits of using food additives
Benefits of using food additives
  • In our modern way of life, the time for cooking is reduced, so we need food products wit a short time of preparation.
  • The food additives have some important roles:
    • Contribute to the assurance of the hygienic value of the foods
    • Improve the sensorial qualities
    • Preserve or improve the nutritional value of the food product
    • Facilitate the obtaining of products for peoples with medical problem (sweets for diabetic diet).
The food additives can be used only in good, fresh products.
  • They can not “cure” a food if it is already tainted or of a low quality.
  • It is not allowed to use additives if the same effect can be obtain another way (by technology or by using natural products).
More often, food additives are used at:
    • Cakes, sweets, chewing gum, ice cream, puddings, non alcoholic dinks
    • Meet products
    • Canned food
    • Fast – foods
    • Dressings
    • Mayonnaise produced by food industry
problems in using the food additives
Problems in using the food additives
  • The most of the food additives are slowly accumulate in the human body (process of bio-accumulation)
  • If a person use to eat often a food with additives, it is very sure that the concentration of the additive will increase till a limit; under the limit the additive is not dangerous, but over the limit it becomes toxic.
  • That means we have to control ours food habitude and not exaggerate with the consumption of some specific foods.
Another concerning reason is the toxicity of some additives.
  • To determine the level of toxicity, every additive is tested for a long period. Even the allowed additives are tested again after 3 – 5 years with new methods, more exact.
The using of the food additives is a reality of our life.
  • We are knowing about their benefits (a little) and we are very interested about their potential risk.
  • If it is possible, let’s use more and more ecological foods for our health and for the earth health.