Romanian Food

Note: This is not intended to be a definitive guide to Romanian food, but merely an introduction to what the visitor to the country can expect when eating in a fairly standard Romanian restaurant. As such, do not expect every dish, cheese or dessert the country has ever produced to be included. For a look at Romanian alcohol: beer, wine and spirits, take a look here.

Let’s face it, few people travel to Romania for the food. As with much of the Balkans the vast majority of what’s on offer is a localised - yet often vastly improved - version of Turkish cuisine, with Hungarian and Germanic influences clearly discernable in Transylvania.

That is not to say that Romania does not have an identifiable cuisine, however, for it does. And much of it is excellent. An example of top Romanian fare is the classic sour soup, ciorba. Made of borş (a sour, honey-coloured liquid made of wheat and cornflour), the tradition of making sour soups is Ukrainian, but was perfected in Moldavia and later Muntenia. In theory anything can go into a ciorba, though the most popular are ciorba de legume (made with vegetables), ciorba de vacuta (made with beef), ciorba de burta (made with tripe), ciorba de perişoare (made with pork meatballs), or borş de miel (made with lamb, and popular at Easter). While you will often see ciorba de pui (ciorba made with chicken), chicken is more popular in clear soups, served with dumplings (galuşte), carrots and parsnips.


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Some deliciously hysterical responses here from people who plainly didn't bother to read the first paragraph, or much of any of the others. If I may be permitted to select one highlight it would have to be "I don't think its right to write a review based on your own opinion". What else should one base an opinion on? The idea of objectivity is nearly always a phantom based on arrogance. But can only ever be so when the subject under discussion is so definitively a matter of taste? For the record, my opinion of Romanian food based on over twenty years of home-cooked and restaurant-prepared meals is the same as my take on Romania in general: a generally positive mixture of affection and exasperation. Exactly what comes across as the author's position. Oh, additional compliments to the self-professed Romanian nationalist who's been living outside of the country for three or more years. Always the category of person I look to for advice on their own country and culture. Guaranteed never to be shrill, boorish or lachrymose.
Alex from Constanta, Romania, I just read your comment and I have to say that you made my day.:) Good comments! The author of this article has no clue about Romania. Period!
ariel the mermaid
Hi. I am really surprised of the comments here, and really discusted about the article you posted. Copy paste from google does not make a great article you know. We also find it strange that you drink tons of tea and you have a funny accent. But we cannot be all same.

Dear Author, it goes without saying that you simply put no effort into researching about the Romanian cuisine. Ok, you went there, tried some restaurants (clearly not the best), had no communication with the locals whatsoever and now you believe that you are qualified enough to write such a review. Well it doesn't really work that way. There is a lot of misleading information in this text, starting with how the food is prepared or with the general de_scription of some dishes. For instance, Mamaliga is still a big thing everywhere in Romania, everyone eats it!!! I've been living in Vienna for almost two months now and I can say that the Viennese know what sweet is!! Romanian desserts are not that sweet, but of course it depends on the taste!As a traveler, you should always be open to the "new" factor that your destination has to offer. Just because Romanian cuisine is different than other cuisines, doesn't simply make it bad or worse or any of the kind. You should also take into account that sometimes, the food found in some restaurants is not very representative of the food cooked by the Romanian people in their homes. As in any other place around this planet, you may just have bad luck when entering a new restaurant. P.S. I am very happy to read so many comments by Romanians and foreigners together defending "the Romanian food", which is in fact AWESOME!!!
Pete Spangler
United States
I have recently begun research on Romania; I am greatly interested in history and spent two years of my college education consuming every point of history, culture and tradition possible. Romania is one of the places in the world I would love to visit, and so I stopped by to take a look at what people were saying about the food - as this tells a lot about cultural influences historically. Wow! What a train wreck of a blogging,..! First off, I do believe that the individual who has proffered this 'opinion' should simply have kept it to themselves. Obviously this is not the person to be writing such a review. Too many assumptions when attempting to sound qualified. No true research involved or these many mistakes would not have been presented in this fashion by anyone even approaching some professionalism. How does such a poorly constructed handful of badly phrased quips and stabs at an entire culture, and race get listed with the board of tourism for Romania?!? Personally, I do not possess the most educated palette in the world, but from what I have eaten, I would venture to say that the food, like any food that you are not used to eating and is different, should be viewed as an adventure and exploration. I do not like every piece of food that crosses my lips, and have likes and dislikes; that being said, Romanian food, that I have had the few opportunities to taste, have always been a taste sensation. If its cheese, give me more! Sour cream? Bring it on! Ketchup on my pizza,.. well, okay, I might try it once. But you can not say, Mr. author, that in all this time you have not found anything good to say about the food. Nothing??? Go home to 'Australia' and chaw on some kangaroo steak and leave the restaurant critiquing to someone who knows a little bit more about food. Really! I would even venture to say that this blog is written by someone who answered an ad looking for bloggers to write articles, and got paid by the word count for expressing an opinion about something they knew nothing about {Internet is full of such opportunities, look for them, they are out there}. Have a great day!
Nick Nazari: "according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which is an agency of the United Nations; this is the latest information available .. as of 2012": Romania 20th. Source Wikipedia. Google "wine production country". As for medium rare steaks: It would be interesting to know if any of the readers of this column have ever been asked, by a Romanian waiter, how they would like their food to be prepared. Otherwise, I have no desire to repeat what I wrote previously.
Nick Nazari
Ken J:1. It does not take a rocket scientist to prepare a medium rare stake. The chef just must keep it a shorter time on the grill. Easy to ask for it. I've lived in many countries and found romanian food among the best. Just go to the right places. 2. I checked for the Romanian wine production on and truly Romania ranked #12! Quality, again you have to choose the right ones while french and italian are best. However there are some romanian wines which can compete with the good wines from those countries.
Antonia - Columbia, USA: "The country is 12th largest wine producer in the world, with local vintages often rivaling those produced in other countries such as Italy and France." Really? According to Wikipedia it is 20th, where the "top ten producing countries accounting for over 85% of that total". And quality = France and Italy? Serious? Or just no common sense or sense of taste?
Firstly, the reactions below have generally missed the point of the article: “not intended to be a definitive guide to Romanian food” and “And much of it is excellent”! But that is what you can generally expect in the Balkans: an emotional response without making sure you understand the main points beforehand… and then nitpicking on minor points and omissions. Blind and hysterical patriotism rules. Ok. Firstly, I am an Australian (of South African descent) who has visited Romania +- 20 times in the past 12 years and I have been living here for the past 12+ months. So I obviously love the country. But I do NOT love the food served in restaurants, except on the few occasions when one goes out for traditional food (e.g. sarmale, tocaniţa or ciolan afumat). To eat such food on a daily basis though, would turn most people into the Pillsbury Doughboy. i.e. FAT. Although it is delicious, every Romanian will still tell you that his/her mother/grandmother makes it “much better”. Very reassuring. And, unlike some others below, I have omitted non-traditional foods like Italian, smoked salmon, Chinese etc. So what are the general characteristics: - overcooked meat, where every last drop of moisture has been expelled and the meat a dry, dull gray. No idea of rare or medium rare, no matter what the meat. - overcooked vegetables which are on the verge of becoming mush. No idea of al dente either. - no matter what the salad, limp and bruised lettuce (you only find Eisberg in supermarkets, not restaurants), overripe tomatoes and yes, often covered in some tasteless cheese that adds no flavour whatsoever. But some restaurants have indeed discovered Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil. Well done. - no lamb or mutton ever. - generally, fish that is tasteless (with due respect to another hysterical Romanian called Alex from Constanta) and overcooked (again). Salmon served pink? Never! - generally any soup is also served with a chili (i.e. if you don’t like it, then disguise it) and cannot be eaten without dry bread. Don’t make the mistake of asking for butter. Once, in one of Bucharest’s better known traditional restaurants, this arrived at the end of the meal. To get some idea of the general cuisine, watch Romania MasterChef and then compare the food served up to Australian MasterChef, for example. Chalk and cheese, where Australia is the cheese. Unfortunately. Or the cooking channel Paprika where Romanians are (over) cooking something and don’t appear to be familiar with the concept of “resting” meat after it has come out of the oven. But, if all the moisture has been vanquished, then what purpose would “resting” serve? The author has been polite in omitting to mention traditional Romanian eating habits, where the knife is used at the start of the meal to chop up any meat, then the fork is transmitted to the right hand and used as a spoon to move as much food as quickly as possible towards the mouth. The left hand is then occupied with a slice of unbuttered bread that is then dropped, with tooth marks, back into the breadbasket. No side plates. And the wines are usually Demi-sec (to general Romanian tastes), not Sec. Too sweet and often served too warm.
First of all, the author uses British spellings and British expressions. I strongly doubt he is American. Second, opinions about food are always subjective. Yes, the author sounds very harsh about Romanian food, but we readers should realize what's expressed are only his opinions. We can try things for ourselves with open minds. I'm very much looking forward to trying genuine Romanian cuisine a couple months from now. I'm quite sure I'll find much of it delicious. A number of those who have commented are doing the exact same thing they accuse the author of, and I think that's sad. They're condemning British or American food, based on somewhat limited experience. I have never been to Great Britain, but I'm convinced you could find both bland and delicious food, depending on where you went. I know that U.S. fast food is generally awful. You could live in a big city for years and eat only unhealthy food, but I also know that you can find wonderful delicious American food made with quality ingredients if you know where to look...just as you could in Romania, I imagine.
Hello everyone, Well, what to say. .no wonder. Since they all judge romanian people because of their nationality why not talking a bit about their food too?? I think every nation has its own cooking and each of us is absolutely free to choose the one he/she likes. I don't think it's a prove of gentleness and education criticizing and underestimating someone's food only because you don't like it. ...or especially when you don't have a clue about you're talking about. Thank you all who pointed out the real quality and values of our (romanian) genuine and so good food... All the best
romania, constanta
Dear Author, it seems o me you traveled to Romania via google earth. You deserve all the comments above and the some...and then some more! Few things that stuck in my mind: mamaliga died in the city-never happened and never will, furthermore you will always find it next to sarmale -the cabbage kind-. Another mention is that feta, delicous chese, is greek , not romanian.Romania may not have as vast variety of cheses as France but it gives the French a run for their money. No moldy chese; or fancy names here but a fantastic variety of fresh, aged,salty and not so salty, smoked or not and even aged in sheep's stomach (branza de burduf) and since we are on dairy...romanian cuisine uses sour cream not cream fraiche!Fish roe- icre- has no garlic in it! It has you know the difference between the two? Google couldn't tell you thay you can't buy Romanian caviar in Romania, could it?Icecream is not a romanian dessert.You speak about the Black Sea coast but mention fresh water fish Carp, ever tried the most common fish: guvide and hanus (type of goby, delicious and sweet) calcan, zargan, stavride and how could you leave out saramura?! This is all too much, you, forgive me for saying this are CLUELESS. And yes, you guessed it, I am romanian and I do admit that some of our cuisine may have som thing of an aquired taste to it(look up "momite de miel/porc") but the majority of it is one of the best and most appreciated although not one of the most famous. Tell you what, come to Constanta, I'll show you some Romanian eating and drinking(never mentioned the wines here) and a taste of our way of life(modern ab traditional) and you can take another shot at the review. Offer stands for anyone who is curious. We will find a way to get in contacy
Australia, Queensland
I have doubts about whether this author has ever been to Romania, I was over there last (going back later this year) and I thought the food is some of the best I have ever tasted
Been traveling to Romania for nearly 20 years. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but my guess is the writer made one, possibly two trips there and never traveled far from the airport. The food is great, and so are the people, once the ice is broken, and I should know, I married one.
Canada, Richmond Hill
Hi my name is Florin and I am Romanian too , I think that this review is totally wrong. In your opinion Romanian food may be bad, but thousands of other like the taste of it . I dont think its right to write a review based on your own opinion.
Austria,Wien, Vienna
Well, I think the author is being a little unfair. As a Turk, I must say, the cuisine is pretty similar, yes, even how they are called (ciorba/çorba, sarmale/sarma), but I still won't change my fresh mamaliga with ham&feta cheese inside to anything. Overall, Romanian food is actually pretty tasty. :)
Never had Romanian.. Or been anywhere outside the U.S. But I've always wanted to visit Romania and try the food. I sincerely hope all of you are right and that the author is just some stupid American (this country has... declined in I.Q. for awhile now).
Kentucky, USA,
All I have to say in addition to all of the above comments, is: God and Romanians from all over the world, forgive the author of this ignorant article, cause he/she doesn't know what he's talking about :)
USA, Columbia
The author is completely clueless about Romanian cuisine. He has clearly never sampled any authentically Romanian dish. While it is true there are lot's of sour soups, to call main dishes a "disappointment" is truly ignorant. First of all there is way more to our main dishes than grilled meat and fried potatoes. He mentions Tocana but doesn't mention that there are hundreds of different combinations of it ie: with beef, chicken, pork, even fish, sometimes with just vegetables. Sometimes it is made with a tomato base and other times it is made with a cream base (culama) depending on what part of the country you are from. When mentioning seafood, he talks all about carp. Obviously, he has never tried very hard to sample Romanian seafood, for we are very fond of catfish, sturgeon, and smoked salmon. And no the caviar salad is not caviar mixed with mayonnaise, it is actually caviar that has been made into it's own mayonnaise. He never mentions the variety of cheeses in the country; our feta, our binza de burduff, or our kaskaval or the fact that virtually all of it is produced hormone free.He limits the extent of our deserts to clatite(which are almost identical to french crepes), and gogosi(which are basically donuts), and doesn't mention our national dessert: cozonac(which is sweetbread often filled with walnuts. He forgets to mention apple pie with phillo dough, or cheese pie with phillo dough. He omits the rich repertoire of European style cakes and tortes which range from chocolate, walnuts, hazelnuts and even chestnuts. He doesn't mention the extensive use of naturally grown fruits(apples, pears, apricots, plums, cherries,sour cherries, wild-growing strawberries, blackberries and raspberries) in pies and tarts.He omits foods that are traditional for religious observances like coliva and the foods eaten during lent like giveci(a meatless vegatable dish).And then consider the worst travesty of all: he completely omits the Romanian wine. Some of the oldest known vineyards are in Romania; wine has been part of the region's heritage for over 6000 years. The country is 12th largest wine producer in the world, with local vintages often rivaling those produced in other countries such as Italy and France.
I have been leaving in the USA for the past 8 years and no matter if I got products from a supermarket or fresh markets organic etc nothing taste like products from home .My Grandfather was a "cioban" he had cows and sheeps every Sunday we had fresh market in the yard where people got fresh cheese,sourcream,yougurt,meat all fresh made by my grandmother ,I so miss those times .The Author has no clue what he is writing, maybe never been in Romania or never met real romanian people ,Lots of restaurants are changing because they wanna have an italian influence or chinese or who knows what else , that is why you don't find real romanian food .Let's not forget the eggplant salad(I love it) varza calita cu carnaciori la cuptor (baked gabagge with cabanos) Mamaliguta cu branza si smantana (polenta with feta and yougurt or sourcream) Why people like to diss other nations I have no clue , here in America what is the main cuisine , burgers,hotdogs,fries,friedchicken , I am not sure where this Author is from but he really needs more facts and taste before he writes stupid untrue things .
Stefan Romascanu
The author is an idiot. Every single non-Romanian person that I know and that has tasted Romanian food, LOVED it. There are some dishes that are a little peculiar to certain folks, like tripe soup, but people do fall in love with the food. Just because you have a personal dislike in food or bias, does not mean that everyone else should. You may have had the misfortune to eat dishes made by a less than adequate cook. Furthermore, although there are dishes that initially were borrowed from other cultures, the fact that Romania has it's own cuisine is undeniable. I suggest that you do some research first before pretending you are an expert.
please help... I have been trying to find some romainian recipes but i am having trouble. I enjoy trying all kinds of different cuisines and i have never had this much trouble finding authentic recipes. If any one can point me in the right direction i would be very grateful....
Sorina Lupsa
Great Britain UK, London
Dear Mr. Author,First of all, what type of food you do eat I am not sure, where you are from I have no clue, but honestly you don't lack taste, you lack a bit of education. Icre is raw fish??? I am Romanian and live in the UK for the last 5 years, after all this time I couldn't find any type of sour cream in these supermarkets that has any taste of all, and you talk about Romanian sour cream? The same sour cream you can buy from the local market freshly made the same day or a day before? You must be joking....Or perhaps you want to talk about fresh fruits, or strawberries freshly harvested and the next day sold? What about in the UK? When you buy a cabbage, all you are left with after cooking it is half pan of water and 3 spoons of the actual cabbage. I hope you are from the UK, and I truly apologize to the other UK readers if in any way they feel offended by my comments. Mr. Author, to be able to comment on Romanian food you need to actually eat there. That's rational, or maybe I am wrong. Who knows?
United Kingdom, Swindon
I am English but i have been to Romania several times and the food is amazing. I love all of the food and the drink, so dont comment on something you dont have a clue about
Ion Popian
California, San Francisco
I cant believe the arrogance of this uneducated blogger. Romanian food is one of the best in Europe. It has many original dished and adopted dishes from the many invadig cultures it beat off.The dishes use the flavors of the ingredients and not of chemicals. I guess you prefer Cheetos and Pepsi. Im Romanian and we respect the food we cook and what we eat. We don't like to stuff artifically colord shit into ourselves just to feel full.
Canada, Toronto
Dear Mr.Author,Sorry you don't like our food. We'll try to include donuts and greasy hamburgers, perhaps this way we'll get your approval.
Portsmouth Pete
England / Hampshire, Portsmouth
It is a shame that the author of this blog has clearly NEVER eaten in Romania.Whenever I visit Romania, my taste buds and my digestive system thank me for eating in a Romanian restaurant!I suggest the author actually eats in any one of the many superb restaurants that can be found.If you need any help, just ask me!
United Kingdom, Birmingham
OK, Romanian food tasteless? are you joking?I am a Romanian nationalist that is living in UK for the last 2 years. My problem in UK is that vegetables don't have a taste here; meat is also quite crappy. If I cook something here by following a Romanian recipe it has a great change of becoming tasteless because the vegetables in this country do not taste...Anything I eat here (cooked at home) makes me fart often... sorry to say this but it is true. I don't know way but I cannot help it. If I go to Romania for a 3 week holiday I immediately stop farting... My German house mate says the same thing, vegetables are no good, meat is no good; my polish guy the same thing...But, when I eat Romanian food, not only that is does have great taste, but it is 10x healthy. I never fart!
Paraná - Brazil, Curitiba
I cannot say something about the Romanian food, but I like to try what people eat on the streets... and I am enjoying pretzels and everything that sell in small stores. I can feel that is fresh and tasty, special Dobrogene, sorry, I am not sure that is this name, but I liked, remember something that I eat in Brazil, my contry.
england, cambridge
i think that you should learn better about romanian foods before you start talking about them it is true we borrowed some foods as different cultures started to come to romania but we have loads of our own foods especially in my part of romania loads of main couses it is true we love pork and we cook it in many different ways but i can assure you only if you've eatten in romania you can really talk about it.
USA, Burlington
The end of this article about the fries and sour cream!!! If you go and try different cuisines you should try them the way they are served.! Yes sour cream is a Romanian way to improve the soup and "sarmale" and is delicious! That your taste buds are used to taste more ketchup and tomatoe sauce is because how you are used to eat your foods. We do have lots of dishes borrowed from the etnics that live in our country. So other countries too. Romanian food rocks in anyway!
Alaska, Fairbanks
Well I am just curious if the author is by any chance American...If he is, his comment about our sweets being sweet is just ridiculous-in this country even the bread has a high content of corn syrup, not to mention that the American cheese-some what tasty just turns to OIL when heated-not like the "tasteless" Romanian cheese-made out of MILK!If he is not American-just like my co national above-I would like to thank him for having such a obviously educated insight on Romanian cuisine. Isn't it just amazing how some people have a total disrespect for anything that is authentic and home made, that actually has the nerve to conserve some taste and not just enroll in the "standards"
my husband is romanian and im from from asia, but we're living in italy. guess what we're eating? lol:) but i must say that ciorba de perişoare, mici, and sarmale are great...sal!!!
Hi BarabaraThe product you are looking for is call vermicelli. You have to boil this in milk or you can boil first in water, then drain and add milk and sugar (depend on your test), optional vanilla sugar.I hope that`s the one she is looking for.
barbara deets
USA/pennsylvania, cochranton
I have a student that has been adopted from Romania. She is always talking about this food that they drank. It was like a creamy milk and it had something in it like spaghetti. I would appreciate any help in finding the recipe. Thank you.
Chile, Antofagastasa
you are!
Hi. I do agree with all comments though. The romanian food is delicious, but not the one you would usually order in restaurants. Unfortunatelly there is no such a thing as public cuisine served in restaturants culture, because there was not a big public demand in the close past. So if you go to some restaurants will get exactly what teh author described.But if you take a more rural venture you would enter the true food flavor land. I've been to a lot of places around the world but none povides the flavour of Romania countryside.So the Romanian cuisine is wonderfull but you'll not dind it in the majority of restaurants. That's a petty.The cheese is indeed wonderful just to know where to get it.
Thomas Hiergens
Belgium, Ghent - Brussels
Sorry Mr. Author, you couldn't be more wrong. Sometimes the food is very poor, especially in the south in Wallachia, but most of the time the food is just wonderful. Fresh berries, natural jam, wild mushrooms, home made lemonade, bear sausage, fresh eggs, paprika's, sun baked tomatoes, stew, lamb chops... mmmmmmm
Canada, Montreal
My name is Dorin. Thanks for providing this wonderful information about my culture: I am originally from Romania and have lived in Canada for 6 years now. However, I'd like to say that it is not true that Romanian cheese is "tasteless". Every kind of cheese that you buy in there, not to mention the one you can buy on the market, produced locally in small communities, has its OWN SPECIFIC taste. There are no two cheeses alike. We also have a kind of cheese, "smoked cheese", that people love and that you can also grate on the fries if you wish. Very good indeed, it melts on the fries. Why would that be "strange"? :-)I personally find Canadian cheese(s) tasteless, and there's no or almost no difference between the sorts of cheese available in the stores, except for the aged cheese. Thanks !