The cuisine of Romania has the same influences as the rest of Romanian culture; from Roman times there still exists the simple pie called, in Romanian, plÄƒcintÄƒ and keeping the initial meaning of the Latin word placenta. The Turks brought meatballs (fried mititei or periÅŸoare in a soup called ciorbÄƒ); from the Greeks there is the musaca (moussaka) and covrigi (hot pretzels); from the Bulgarians, a wide variety of vegetable dishes like zacuscÄƒ; from the Austrians there is the ÅŸniÅ£el (schnitzel); from the Hungarians, their ornate pastries; and the list could go on.
Without a doubt, one of the most popular dishes in Romania, and perhaps can be called the national dish is Sarmale, or Sarma in other cultures of the Balkans, and the Caucasus; a mixture of pork, beef, and lamb, or just plain pork, with onions and rice, wrapped in semi-sour cabbage or grape leaves, and then placed usually in a porcelain pot with tomato paste and pork cuts. This dish is then slow-cooked, and commonly served with cornmeal (mÄƒmÄƒligÄƒ, which is a type of polenta). One of the most common meals is the mÄƒmÄƒligÄƒ, a cornmeal mush, for a long time considered the "poor man's meal" (N-are nici o mÄƒmÄƒligÄƒ pe masÄƒ - "He hasn't even a mÄƒmÄƒligÄƒ on the table"), but it has become very appreciated in recent times.
Pork is the main meat used in Romanian cuisine, but also beef is consumed and a good lamb or fish dish is never to be refused. In conjunction with special events or periods, different recipes are prepared. During Christmas, nearly every family slaughters a pig and cooks it using a wide variety of traditional recipes like cÃ¢rnaÅ£i - a type of long sausage with meat; caltaboÅŸi - sausages made with liver and other internal organs; piftie - a jelly made from parts like the feet, head and ears; tochiturÄƒ (a kind of stew) - served along with mÄƒmÄƒligÄƒ and wine ("so that the pork can swim"); and tobÄƒ (head cheese).
The meal is sweetened with the traditional cozonac (sweet bread with nuts, poppy seeds or lokum - rahat in Romanian, known in English as Turkish delight). Lamb is traditional for Easter; the main dishes are borÈ™ de miel (lamb sour soup), roast lamb and drob - a cooked mix of offal, meat and fresh vegetables, which is quite similar to Scottish haggis, served with pascÄƒ (pie made with cottage cheese) as a sweetener.
Wine is the main drink and has been a tradition for over three millennia. Romania is currently the world's ninth largest wine producer, and exports have increased in recent years. A wide variety of domestic (GrasÄƒ, TÄƒmÃ¢ioasÄƒ) and worldwide (Italian Riesling, Merlot, Sauvignon blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Muscat Ottonel) varieties are produced. Romania is the world's second largest grower of plums, and almost all of those plums becomes either the famous Å£uicÄƒ (a once-refined plum brandy) or palincÄƒ (twice-or-more-refined plum brandy). Beer is also highly appreciated, generally blonde pilsener beer, after the German style.
A great number of proverbs and sayings have developed around the activity of eating. From the innocent child's thank you: SÄƒru-mÃ¢na pentru masÄƒ, c-a fost bunÄƒ ÅŸi gustoasÄƒ, ÅŸi bucÄƒtÄƒreasa frumoasa ("Thank you for the meal, it was good and tasty, and the cook was beautiful"), to the more philosophical MulÅ£umescu-Å£i Å£ie Doamne, c-am mÃ¢ncat ÅŸi iar mi-e foame ("Thank you Lord, for I have eaten, but I am hungry again"), Dragostea trece prin stomac ("Love passes through the stomach"), the simple Pofta vine mÃ¢ncÄƒnd ("Appetite comes while eating"), the sarcastic Porcul mÄƒnÃ¢ncÄƒ orice, dar se-ngraÅŸÄƒ pentru alÅ£ii ("The pig would eat anything but it gets fat for others"), or the expression of total fulfillment, MÃ¢ncat bine, bÄƒut bine, dimineaÅ£a sculat mort ("Ate well, drank well, in the morning woke up dead").