I made a friend from Romania once, and I absolutely LOVED hearing about Romania from her. She was so passionate about her country, and, of course, about the Romanian food that she loved.
When I met Cory from Yuzu Bakes, I was so excited to learn about her blog and the fact that she came from Romania! Cory answered some questions about Romania for us, including what foods she misses from Romania and also what life as a plant-based eater looks like in Romanian food.
What was your life like in Romania?
My life in Romania was great. I can say that I had a very happy childhood and enjoyed spending time with friends and family.
Much like the rest of the world, we played outdoors, many sort of old school games. We ran a lot, played hide and seek and all these games kids with phones don’t even know about. I had a very normal, happy life.
What is family life like in Romania? How does the community interact with one another?
Romania is a big country and every part of the country has its own traditions and its own family life interactions.
I grew up in Bucharest so we were city people with the same interactions as big cities all over the world. Not many communities, but I know some of my friends came from the countryside where family life and community was everything. Our community, good or bad, was basically formed by our neighbours. Not much beyond that.
I know that Romania tends to have some pretty harsh winters. How does the weather affect Romanian Food?
I think it’s fair to assume that Romania has a lot of comfort food. Winters are harsh and we do eat a lot of stews. Food tends to be heavier especially during the holiday period.
How is the food of Romania similar to other countries in Eastern Europe and how is it different?
That’s a very fair question and one which is very difficult to answer. The food in Romania is very similar to the rest of the Eastern block with Southern and some Middle Eastern influences. I would say what makes Romanian food different is the way we prepare it.
Of course, this is more like in the past, as nowadays everyone purchases ready-made food from the supermarket so you can see that traditional food is slowly subsiding, and only made around holidays. I would say that Romanian food is characterised by simple dishes with a lot of flavours.
Tell me about Romanian Food.
Romanian dishes ask for a lot of pork. I eat plant-based so I do not consume any type of meat.
In terms of vegetables, we actually use such an array, so it would be difficult to say just one. I’d say eggplants, red pepper and potatoes are very widely used in many of our dishes.
As for spices, a sprinkle of paprika works with almost every single stew. As herbs, we like parsley quite a lot.
Our list of favorite desserts is very long, but I can underline a classic and a favourite of mine: papanasi. It’s like a fried doughnut filled with jam, served with sour cream and sweet jam on top. It’s divine.
What are your everyday Romanian foods? What types of things are common for breakfasts, dinners, snacks?
I would say that a cold buffet is always the way Romanian start the day. Salami, cheese and bread for breakfast, sometimes with interesting spreads like eggplant spread or paprika spread.
Dinners are heavy, usually a type of stew with a side of rice, polenta or just crusty bread. As Romanians, we do love bread!
We don’t usually snack. I know this may sound weird, but snacks for us are desserts like homemade cakes or sweets, so we tend to enjoy them after lunch. The lunch meal is usually the longest and heaviest…well at least traditionally.
What is your favorite Romanian holiday or tradition? Is there a food that makes that occasion special?
Before going plant-based I used to really like Christmas in Romania. We’d have such an array of dishes to pick from and every family makes a lot of food.
We do make stuffed cabbages with polenta for Christmas, the main traditional Romanian food. But then there are pork loins and chops, heavy potato salads with beef and mayo, a special pork jelly eaten cold and so much more.
Honestly, Christmas is a feast for foodies!
Is there anything eaten in Romania that’s not eaten anywhere else in the world? Anything surprising?
Oh that’s a very interesting question. I guess I will say the pork jelly we eat for Christmas. I’ve never seen it in any other country and I’ve travelled all over the world. I’m sure a version of it exists but that’s so unusual to me.
I’d say that it’s truly Romanian.
But then, one Google search away reveals this is called Aspic and it’s actually an Arabic invention. So there you go, everything has a background one way or another.
Paspanasi (the dessert I told you about above) is truly Romanian. I’ve never seen it anywhere else in the world. Also stuffed polenta with cheese and ham!
What’s your very favorite recipe from Romania? What is your least favorite traditional Romanian food?
Sadly I’m not a fan of traditional Romanian food anymore because it’s all meat-based. And if it doesn’t come with meat it has a lot of dairy. Being plant-based is a challenge in my country.
Before my transition, my favourite food was papanasi, AKA the best dessert on the planet. My least favourite was something called “drob”. It’s basically lots of boiled eggs encased in lamb’s mincemeat with herbs and onions.
Are there any ingredients that you love that just aren’t the same unless you’re in Romania?
I would say I really miss Romanian peppers and eggplants. They are so full of flavours. However, thanks to globalization, I have access to everything to be able to recreate any Romanian dish.
Tell me about your food blog! Why you started it, what it features, etc.
I have been a travel blogger for over 4 years and only recently tapped into food blogging. Everything on my blog is fully plant-based, no exception.
I do love taking Romanian recipes and making them vegan. I feel this is a huge gap in the market for Romania and I’m here to solve that issue. My favourite dish is the most traditional Romanian recipe: sarmale
Again, this is to show the world that we can have amazing traditional food by using plants only.
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