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Romanian cuisine is a diverse blend of different dishes from several traditions with which it has come into contact, but it also maintains its own character. It has been greatly influenced by Ottoman cuisine, while it also includes influences from the cuisines of other neighbours, such as Germans, Serbs, Bulgarians and Hungarians.
Quite different types of dishes are sometimes included under a generic term; for example, the category ciorbă includes a wide range of soups with a characteristic sour taste. These may be meat and vegetable soups, tripe (ciorbă de burtă), and calf foot soups, or fish soups, all of which are soured by lemon juice, sauerkraut juice, vinegar, or traditionally borş. The category ţuică (plum brandy) is a generic name for a strong alcoholic spirit in Romania, while in other countries, every flavour has a different name.
In history of Romanian culinary literature, Costache Negruzzi and Mihail Kogălniceanu are the compilers of a cookbook ″200 reţete cercate de bucate, prăjituri şi alte treburi gospodăreşti″ (200 tried recipes, pastries and other household things) printed in 1841. Also, Negruzzi writes in "Alexandru Lăpuşnenu": "In Moldavia at this time, fine food wasn't fashioned. Greater feast could have included few courses. After Polish borş, Greek dishes follow, boiled with herbs floating in butter, after that, Turkish pilaf, and finally cosmopolitan steaks".
The Dacians produced wine in massive quantities. Once Burebista, a Dacian king, angered by the wine abuse of his warriors, cut the vines, his people gave up drinking wine. Legend says that the Dacian people, created their own beer.
With Romans, came a certain taste, rooted in the centuries for the pastry made with cheese, like alivenci, pasca, or brânzoaice. Introduction of porridge by the Romans, who eat millet porridge called polenta.
For two centuries and 76 years, Romania was under the rules of the Ottoman Empire. Turkish cuisine changed the Romanian table with appetizers made of eggplant, peppers or other vegetables, various meat preparations like spicy chiftele. And a unique procession of sweets, pastries combining honey and nuts, such as baklava, halva, and rahat, which is used in cakes.
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Romanian recipes bear the same influences as the rest of Romanian culture. The Turks have brought meatballs (perişoare in a meatball soup), from the Greeks there is musaca, from the Austrians there is the şniţel, and the list could continue. The Romanians share many foods with the Balkan area (in which Turkey was the cultural vehicle), with Central Europe (mostly in the form of German-Austrian dishes introduced through Hungary or by the Saxons in Transylvania) and Eastern Europe. Some others are original or can be traced to the Roman or other ancient civilizations. The lack of written sources in Eastern Europe makes impossible to determine today the punctual origin for most of them.
One of the most common meals is the mămăliga, a type of polenta, served on its own or as an accompaniment. 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.
Before Christmas, on December 20 (Ignat's Day or Ignatul in Romanian), a pig is traditionally sacrificed by every rural family. A variety of foods for Christmas prepared from the slaughtered pig consist of the following:
At Easter, lamb is served: the main dishes are roast lamb and drob de miel – a Romanian-style lamb haggis made of minced organs (heart, liver, lungs) wrapped and roasted in a caul. The traditional Easter cake is pască, a pie made of yeast dough with a sweet cottage cheese filling at the center.
Romanian pancakes, called clătită, are thin (like the French crêpe) and can be prepared with savory or sweet fillings: ground meat, white cheese, or jam. Different recipes are prepared depending on the season or the occasion.
Wine is the preferred drink, and Romanian wine has a tradition of over three millennia. Romania is currently the world's 9th largest wine producer, and recently the export market has started to grow. Romania produces a wide selection of domestic varieties (Fetească, Grasă, Tamâioasă, and Busuioacă), as well as varieties from across the world (Italian Riesling, Merlot, Sauvignon blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Muscat Ottonel). Beer is also highly regarded, generally blonde pilsener beer, made with German influences. There are also Romanian breweries with a long tradition.
According to the 2009 data of FAOSTAT, Romania is the world's second largest plum producer (after the United States), and as much as 75% of Romania's plum production is processed into the famous ţuică, a plum brandy obtained through one or more distillation steps.
The generic name for cheese in Romania is brânză, and it is considered to be of Dacian origin. Most of the cheeses are made of cow's or sheep's milk. Goat's milk is rarely used. Sheep cheese is considered "the real cheese", although in modern times some people refrain from consuming it due to its higher fat content and specific smell.
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