The foods of Romania ― local, fresh, delicious!
Ionica, local guesthouse owner, sharing his plums
Romanian hospitality is top notch – in fact, the best I’ve ever experienced. Tied up in this picture of perfect hospitality is delicious local food, made and served with love.
The Romanian food we experienced on our self-guided walking trip in the mountains was something special. It’s fresh, sourced locally, healthy, home-made, mostly free-range and organic.
It’s also creative and imaginative - while still being traditional. The meals are cooked in simple kitchens by the women and men who grew and picked the vegetables from their garden, typically that same day.
Like any high class restaurant the ‘menu’ is ‘written’ daily – based on what is in season in the garden and at the market.
In the Piatra Craiului Mountains
, staying in small guesthouses, the food is especially homely, traditional and local. Happily – we didn’t have to decipher any menus as there is a set-menu each night (dietaries catered for!) and it is always
delicious and plentiful.
Here are some of the foodie delights you can look forward to on this Romanian self-guided walk.
Breakfast in Romania
Each day starts with a fuelling session fit for queens and kings. It’s great dairy country in the Piatra Craiului Mountains and we tried at least 15 different types of sheep and cow cheese on our toast!
There’s overflowing bowls of homemade jam, a babaganush style dish known as salată de vinete”, Romanian pesto, sliced meats, fresh tomatoes; and if there are chickens running around the guesthouse then expect fluffy yellow omelettes filled with sliced capsicum, ham, parsley and more cheese.
All washed down with a pot of fresh coffee or rosehip tea. That will help you in the mountains!
Wild strawberries in Romania
Romanians really make the most of summer, because they know a long, harsh winter is around the corner, so enjoying the summer fruits is a big part of appreciating the season!
At the tale end of summer the berries and stone-fruits are at their most plump and juicy. One guesthouse owner, Ionica, took us to his orchard to pick fruit for the day ahead. Ionica was pulling plums of all colours from the trees with great gusto, filling our arms until we could carry no more.
When not laden down with fruit donated by kind locals, we found our own. Every day while walking, we passed patches of wild strawberries and raspberries… impossible to resist and the perfect snack to keep us going until lunch.
Cherry cheesecake and tuica - a Romanian treat!
Wine and tuica
Did you know that Romania is one of the world's largest wine producers?
Fresh, fruity, and with notes of cherry and blackberries, Romania produces some world class wines and the reds we tried were all wonderful. They are also a bargain - five dollars a bottle, anyone? Most guesthouses stock a small selection of wine – it’s always Romanian.
Another to-do tipple is tuica. Tuica is
a strong fruit brandy (50% - 60%) brewed mainly from plums, and most families make their own.
One of the great things about travel are the impromptu moments, like when a guesthouse owner insisted that I sit with her to try some tuica. It was 2pm in the afternoon but hesitation was put aside as it was a great honour to be offered some of the local drink. Later we shared cherry-cheesecake and plum tuica
– friends for life!
Romanians say tuica does wonders for the appetite – but it also helps you sleep, and acts as a digestif.
Hearty Romanian food - sheep cheese mamaliga
is a homely, filling pile of polenta often served in the country. It can be served with fried meat, sour cream, or – like this mamaliga
– is filled with melted sheep’s cheese and topped with a fried egg and pepper corns.
It may not win any awards for aesthetics, but it’s traditional and definitely hits the spot! Team it with a Romanian beer and you’ll sleep like a log.
The author's mother shelling peas with a local lady
I’ve mentioned ‘local’ a lot. It describes exactly how we ate in the mountains and how the food is chosen and prepared. In many of the Romanian villages they have the art of ‘eating local’ down pat, they always have; and I hope they always will.
I want to share one last photo – my favourite from our Romanian food experience as it encapsulates ‘eating local’. This photo is of mum helping the grandma of the guesthouse (the owner’s mum – I never found out her name!) shell peas from the garden. It was a warm evening and they laughed together as the peas shot out of their shells – chatting to each other in broken English and Romanian.
The peas will be frozen and kept until needed – perhaps for when you decide to visit for dinner.
Lilly Donkers travelled on our Translyvania Castles & Mountains trip in Romania