What I ate in Romania.

What didn’t I eat in Romania is more to the point.

Boletus mushrooms, fresh from the forest.

Romanians love nothing more than to feed you. And because they are really, truly hurt if you refuse to partake (and will serve you a robust helping anyhow)…

Homemade polenta… really low-cal!

I stepped up to the plate and ended up eating my weight in potatoes, sheep cheese, goat cheese, salt cheese…

Sheep cheese — very salty & yummy!

onions, cucumbers…

tomatoes, salad…

Greek(ish) salad, served at every meal.

bread, toast, bruschetta…

Almost every restaurant has homemade delicious bread.

…cake, dumplings, strudel…

Chifle – a beautiful little walnut pastry I got to know well.

croissants, donuts…

honey, more cheese, more potatoes, sour cherry jam… ..and lots of plum brandy in various strengths and portions.

Weak or wake-up-the-dead strong, homemade plum brandy (Palinca) was ubiquitously delish!


Sarmale (cabbage rolls) with pork…. (mine were with fresh mushrooms)

The only thing I didn’t eat much of was meat because I’m a pretend vegetarian…

Beef (I think) and homemade sausages

..but that was kind of stupid because Romanian meat is exceptionally fresh and free-range as all get out.

Cliftele (meat balls of beef, pork, onion, garlic and rice)

I’m also lactose intolerant (for real) so you would think that would have put a slight damper in my epic caloric intake.

Au contraire –the only thing that meant was no ice cream (to which Romanians are addicted) and no gigantic wollops (the dollop’s overweight cousin) of sour cream, to which Romanians are also exceptionally partial.

Somlói galuska – yes, it’s Hungarian but the Romanians love it anyhow.

With all this glorious food, you would think that Romanians would be huge but they’re not (although milk-fed babies in the rural villages were kind of scary large). The women have the classic Slavic beauty, the men do a lot of physical exercise, and the people love to be outside—walking, picnicking, farming, gardening, and strolling around village squares.

Weekend evening in beautiful Brasov square.

It was a delicious experience eating Romanian and being treated to mad generous hospitality in every household…

My pal and fellow traveler Laura Voisinet & Maria who made us a beautiful lunch in Aschileu.

(and the Ursus beer wasn’t too shabby, either!)

Noroc!! (And I am so hungry now, I can’t even tell you… this post should have come with a warning!)

Categories: Food, Heifer International, Photography, Romania, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 67 Comments

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67 thoughts on “What I ate in Romania.

  1. Jo

    Romanian food…who knew? Looks absolutely fabulous! Thanks for posting…and happy continued eating!

    • Thanks — but I’m going to Appalachia, USA next so I suspect I’ll encounter a lot of Mountain Dew and fried Snicker bars. After everything fresh and homemade in Romania, even coming back to Atlanta is a shocker!

  2. Ooh, I’ve heard so many good things about Romania but never much about the food. This all looks pretty delicious!

    • It was absolutely wonderful food — and dinner out at a really sweet restaurant –for four of us, with wine and appetizers and dessert was $78. My kind of place!!!

  3. Wow, this looks amazing! I’ve always wanted to go to Romania, and your photos have made me want to go even more. Enjoy and keep posting about your awesome adventures!


    • Kay — It’s one of the most delightful countries I’ve been– and not just because of the food. (Okay, maybe a little bit because of the food…)

  4. dee-lightfully deee-licious. Love, Bonnie

  5. Deb Morrow Palmer

    Oh my. I would be a very large person if I lived there!!!

  6. Martha Radatz

    Yes, you’re right, this post should have come with a word of warning. I haven’t had breakfast yet, but I’m heading to the kitchen right now…

  7. The sweet treat on pic 15. is called “Somlói galuska”. Somló is the city it is originated from. It is incredibly delicious (and extremely high-carb) but is never served with orange! I guess it was just a restaurant trick to make it the fancy way :o)

    • Ada — thank you SO much for the correction!! I haven’t learned how to make my computer add those
      little accents, and I also was having trouble reading Laura’s beautiful handwritten notes, so I appreciate the correct spelling! Maybe the orange is the Romanian touch on the classic Hungarian dish?? In any event, it was more than enough for four of us!! Lovely!!!

  8. Jeff

    Yum yum, now I am hungry after reading and seeing your latest post!

  9. You made me hungry now! Beautiful food pics…

  10. I’m going crazy.

    • I sure didn’t hold back — a guy whose been going there for years said “Oh, I always come back from Romania weighing 10 pounds more” and I thought to myself, “You have no discipline, pal.” And then I picked up a fork and started my own personal food orgy. I don’t regret a single bite!

      • Florentina

        Hey Betty,
        I am also Romanian and my husband came to Romania for vacantion. He ate just about everything and loved them all. And still after 3 weeks of being there he came back home 15 pounds lighter. I am from Bucharest and there,as in the rest of the country we do a lot of walking. I am trying that here where I live now..Long Beach NY . I grew up like that, but I encounter people like “” wow…you bring your kids to school walking ?!?”” 4 blocks…and it is hot or too cold…like it is a punishment. They love walking. I raised them that way. We drive only when is really necessary . Anyways.We do have our bed stuff too. Corruption to the highest level,poverty, street dogs etc, but there are a lot of good things and good people left. There is hope:) and most of all GREAT FOOD, that I enjoy whenever I can. Buy the way, there are a few good Romanian restaurants in QUEENS,NY if you are ever around.

      • Florentina — I am so happy to hear that your husband came home 15 pounds lighter; I KNOW I didn’t walk enough there and I’m sure that’s the secret! I love that you walk your kids to school and I think we Americans are really, really lazy when it comes to walking and not driving — and walking is the best exercise there is! Actually, my daughter goes to school at St. John’s University and so I AM in Queens rather a lot — I’ll definitely have to check out the Romanian restaurants there! Got any suggestions???

  11. Love the photos! Not only can you write but you’ve made this delicious food look beautiful … Personally I’d like to try some of the sheep cheese and if it’s as salty as you say I’ll have it with a piece of that wonderful bread, and the cucumber salad.

    • Rosie — It would have kept you on the road of your pilgrimage, for sure! The bread was so good and the simple pleasures of truly FRESH food — the fruit & the vegetables just picked, the salty cheese just made — it was divine!!!

      • Betty I wish we’d been offered freshly picked vegetables, but when you walk the Camino you don’t stay at farms. I eat a lot of green vegetables at home but the only time I saw kale in Spain it was in soup.

        We ate homemade cheese a few times and it was simple and light and absolutely delicious. Why can’t we get cheese like that over here?

      • teresa

        We had goats when I was a teen, mom made a soft cheese spread with garlic and herbs, it never lasted long, cause she made fresh whole wheat bread, we slurped it down in a hurry!!
        Try buying goat cheese, also smoked cheeses, and soft spreads, but nothing is reslly as good as my mom’s homemade cheese and yogart, the best!


  12. I’m full. I need a nap now …

  13. Sybil — you always make me laugh! (and think of all the calories we both saved with our virtual feast! )

    • I couldn’t agree more about getrriaics. I miss sitting with some of the elderly individuals I used to help and they would tell me stories for hours about the things that they witness when they were younger, and the lives that they lived up to the point that they needed care. I have always felt that the elderly know how to live their lives better than anyone, and they for sure never take it for granted! Sometimes the people taking care of them are not good people though, and it always breaks my heart to see someone talking badly to an elderly man or woman.I like how you made a switch from little tiny babies that have no real experience with life, to elderly men and women who have lived life to its fullest and still have more life to share with others. Such opposites!

      • Thanks, Herve — really appreciate the way you see older people. In my travels, I got to meet a lot of elderly people and they always touched my heart in a special way. Glad you feel the same sense of what we can learn from our elders!

  14. Except for the meat and mushrooms, I’m there, Betty. And galuska looks like something I’d eat without even asking what’s in it. Romania — someday!

    • Wow, I’m not even that much of a mushroom person, but these were just AMAZING. They weren’t musty or squishy .. just really robust and delish! (and the little ones were even better!!)

    • adrian

      you might not want to come to romania these days…. comunists have the power now!

      • I just read a sobering story in the NY Times today about all the political trouble they are having between the president and prime minister … I am so sad about that and hope that stability and prosperity come to Romania soon. I really REALLY loved your country!!!

    • Floris

      Those mushrooms cooked with sour cream are delicious!(the best are directly picked from the forest)
      P.S. they only grow for short period in the summer and in the autumn

      • One of my favorite photographs was of a great-looking shepherd, over 6 foot tall wearing a leather jacket, slouchy brown pants and an elaborately hand-crafted red leather belt — lying on the ground looking at his bag of mushrooms and smoking a cigarette. He was SUCH a cool dude, and those mushrooms looked amazing!!

  15. Being a Romanian, your post makes me really, truly happy! I want to hug you!(I’m sure you had a lot of this, of the hugging in Romania)
    I grew up eating this food, and I still have the same weight for 15 years…
    I’m really happy you enjoyed our food!

    • I LOVED your country’s food, Ana — and I’m sure if I went south to Bucharest, I would have had an even broader experience! I did get hugged a LOT in Romania, which I always love since I’m a hugger, too … but boy did I also get FED a lot! It was a total mystery to me why women were so slim and men so fit when they enjoy their food so tremendously…. but I figure it’s because it’s all SO fresh and healthy. I’m really really happy that you felt this post did justice to Romanian food because I honestly was crazy about it (and miss it!!)

  16. Thank you for saying such nice things about Romania. It’s really good to read you had a good time and you enjoyed you stay here. Brasov is a beautiful city and I love it dearly. I’m from Timisoara, but my mother is from Ardeal.
    Sorry about the extra food and “tuica” (plum brandy, as you called it)
    best wishes, codruta

    • Are you kidding? I LOVED the plum brandy (and all the food)! I had one glass that was fermented in a special cask and was as strong as Kentucky bourbon — absolutely lovely!!! Brasov is a lovely city and we had such a great time just walking around, going to the Black Cathedral and listening to music. I love that everybody is out in the streets, enjoying the sun and sights … Romania is a tourist’s dream; I can’t believe it’s not overrun, as it has everything: awesome food, great people, low prices and beautiful, beautiful scenery!! You’re lucky to be Romanian!!

  17. This is a great summation of how and what we tend to eat around these parts. I’m glad you had a nice experience when visiting and eating in Romania. Our cuisine is an eclectic blend of recipes and culinary influences from surrounding countries, it’s something of a melting pot 🙂

    One small correction if you may: the image that you’ve captioned as being “chifle” those are actually “cornulețe” – roughly translated as “small croissants”, but as you’ve seen they have very little in common with croissants except for the general shape.

  18. Oh wow, I checked a few times about the proper name for the pastry with my Romanian cohorts .. but I’ll take your word for it, and “cornulete” it is!! I really loved those little guys, whatever their name! And yes, I did find it so intriguing that so many influences seemed to be represented in the Romanian cuisine: Italian, Spanish, Hungarian, Turkish … it’s ALL the best stuff, I figure!! THANKS, Stefa!!

    • lordnonsense

      It can happen to the best of us, language barriers being what they are. Actually “chifle” means “bread rolls” so it would be more appropriate for the image above the “cornulețe”.

      I’m wondering what your experience was in regards to coffee because we are notoriously huge, HUGE fans of coffee – which we traditionally make by using the Turkish method of boiling it in a kettle.

      The meat rolls in cabbage or “sarmale” as well as the “chiftele” – they start with a CH – are both Turkish in origin, as is the introduction of coffee in this part of Europe.

      I’m sorry if I’m being overly didactic but I find cross-cultural culinary influences fascinating.


      • Oh, you are preaching to the choir — I LOVE gleaning all this insight into the origins of the dishes. I think of cabbage rolls as being Polish — so I was wondering about that, and never thought it would be Turkish. My friend Laura had made Kifle (or something like that) which were identical to these sweet croissant-shaped walnut goodies but once you mentioned that, I think I do remember someone calling them cornulete… so I’ve changed it on the photo. I loved LOVED the coffee in Romania because I like mine strong and black, and god knows, it’s that!! Those fried donut-y breads we were served a lot, too — and I loved them. In fact, what didn’t I love?? I can’t think of anything — and btw, we also had really nice fish, too!

  19. Hello and greetings from Romania! Thank you for this article, made my day ! I’m glad you had a nice time here and enjoyed our cuisine ! There’s a lot more I could talk to you about , but you got a nice grip of our food culture. One thing to mention is that cheers ! = Noroc ! ( this is the correct spelling ) . All the best , Alexandra ! facebook.com/alexandra.alex.777

    • Thanks for the correction, Alexandra — I hate making dumb mistakes like that, but I just spell everything phonetically and that’s almost never correct with the Romanian language!! I’ll make the change NOW! Noroc!

  20. alina gheorghe

    we( the romanians) are not slavic people,we are latins ( in a recent study the most pure latin languAges spoken today arw romanian and portugues and a dialect from toscany-italy)…….perhaps you would have founded out if you were really interested a litle beet about the country.
    PS: correct is “noroc” not narok

    • ana ancuta

      This is so typical for Romanians..attack the friendly visitors!!! We are of Latin descend indeed, but after so many centuries there’s nothing pure about us anymore…so much mixture with the Russians and the Bulgarians and the Hungarians…we’re like the rest of the Caucasians: a mixing bowl of descendants…
      As to the “if you were really interested” bit – it saddens me to see the lack of manners is still the number one trait of my fellow Romanians…
      And BEFORE you have the audacity to criticize someone on the spelling of a foreign word be sure YOUR spelling is spot on!!! “Beet” and “bit” does not mean the same….Beet is sfecla …just like you….

      Ana Ancuta

      • Oh, Ana — thanks for leaping to my defense, but I really SHOULD have checked on how to spell Noroc … and I did know that most Romanians are not Slavic, but when I was writing how beautiful I thought the women are, it just kind of slipped my mind. I am sorry, since I’m sure there is a great sensitivity to NOT wanting to be mistaken for Russians, given the complex history of your country after WWII. I never want to make hasty mistakes like that that hurt people’s feelings, but the one thing I can say with the utmost sincerity is that I’m VERY interested in Romania’s history, culture, FOOD and people — I loved the country and tried to convey that in all my posts!

    • Alina, I DID know that you are Latin people and the language is closest to pure Latin — and that is why most Romanians can travel to work in Italy and Spain, because they are able to rather easily understand the language. I am sorry you were insulted by my comment about the Slavic beauty of the women — I actually meant it as a compliment and to my American eyes, many of the women (including my guide, Laura from Heifer) did have the look I most often associate with that group. I actually am very interested in Romania and all the countries that I visit and when I make a mistake, I’m happy to correct it…. sorry it upset you!

    • If she was in Brasov the Noroc might of sounded like Năroc!! 🙂
      If you translate it literary means: Good luck!
      We are on our way to Romania in exactly one week.

      • I’m jealous … what a beautiful, glorious country!!! And you picked the perfect time to go! Bon voyage!!

  21. Hello Betty!! I’m also romanian and I’m very glad you liked our food and country. If you want to see more beautiful places in Romania click this link: https://www.facebook.com/273.ro and maybe next time you’ll visit another region in our country with more fantastic foods. All the best from Romania!!

    • This is the MOST beautiful site — I believe somebody else wrote in about it, but it has such lovely photos and great suggestions about places to go in Romania, it almost broke my heart to think that I really saw SO little of the country…. but just means I have to go back!! Thanks, Maria!!

  22. Alex

    you should check out “papanasi”. i don’t know their exact origin but it’s a Romanian classic and looks a bit like the hungarian desert 🙂

  23. Any dessert is something I need to try! I’ll put it on my “have to eat” list!!!

  24. Raluca

    Papanasi it’s Hungarian too. Your post made me even more proud that i am Romanian. You should visit Dobrogea region, and come closer to the Black Sea! Best regards!

  25. Raluca, You should be proud to be Romanian … it’s a gorgeous country!! I know I need to come back and see even more of the country — specially by the Black Sea!! Thanks so much for your comment!!!

    • Anonymous

      It seems to me that you are in love with Romania! hahaha:) that’s a goood thing!

  26. Irina

    I am really, truly sad…you did not mention anything about our ciorba/soups…We are crazy about them. Most of us cannot imagine a lunch without one – sour, sweet, with borsch, or sour cream, or vegetables or meat or dumplings or noodles or rice or meat balls or tomatoes or different types of leaves/plants or …who cares? My father has a saying: It is good as long as I can serve it with a spoon…. 🙂

    • Raluca

      I like this perspective. Irina is right. Our soups are the best liquid food in the world. All kinds of soups you can eat in Romania.

    • Irina — you are SO right — and I apologize!! I LOVED the soup in Romania and ordered it all the time, as it’s really my FAVORITE food!! (and by the way, it was my dad’s favorite food, too — his go=to lunch and so I understand your dad’s comment totally) … I just love the way Romanians leap to the defense of their favorite foods and show SUCH pride and respect for their cuisine … it really shows why I loved the country and the food SO much!!!!

  27. And next time you visit, don’t forget to try the other type of Sarmale with grape leaves instead of cabbage leaves. So much better. You eat those hot, with cold sour cream on top and Polenta (mamaliga)… can’t go wrong with it 🙂

  28. ioana

    you made me hungry and I’ve just finished eating…home at my parents in Bucharest 😀 (trust me that I’ve eaten quite a lot every time I have the chance to visit them); I’m glad you liked Romania, the romanians and the romanian food – but as somebody else was saying, hope you’ll get a chance to see more of the Romania (8 days I know they are not even close to enough)

  29. Oooh, I will tell you that the only food that as as fresh and amazing as Romania’s just Armenia .. if you read my post on food there, I think you’ll feel right at home! And I totally agree — 8 days in Romania is not nearly enough — I loved EVERY minute I spent (eating) there!!! (and I love how proud Romanians are of their beautiful food!!!)

  30. Hi Betty,

    I am Romanian and I just love this post 🙂 It is true, we are a bit of a food addicts :)) it is something common in every romanian household, when visitors come we put out these huge 4-5 course meals. But they are all really healthy and I see how it looks surprising that we’re not that fat. Hope you’ll visit Romania again!
    All the best!

    • Thanks for this great comment — and I have to say, I got SO many comments on my blog about Romanian food! Even a year later, I’m still dreaming about some of those meals and I can totally see why Romanians are so proud of their cuisine — AND their amazing hospitality!! It was really healthy, fresh, locally grown and luscious food — I REALLY would love to go back!!!

  31. The” croissants, donuts…” are Angel Wings and the romanian word for it is Minciunele, the hungarian, csöröge.

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