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According to a funny Romanian saying, “pork is the best vegetable” and the local cuisine pretty much sums that up. Now you don’t have to do as the locals do, but when in Romania, especially if visiting around Christmas, do try a few of the mouthwatering pork dishes. Here’s our top 10.
When it comes to pork sausages, just like with ţuică, the homemade Romanian plum brandy, every household has their own tried and tested recipe. Usually prepared by mothers or grandmothers for Christmas, after the traditional pig slaughter, they are made with ground pork meat and gut casings. The seasoning varies, but it always includes plenty of garlic, black pepper and thyme.
This dish is popular throughout the country, with each region adding a different touch to this slow, long simmered stew. Apart from pork meat, it can also include smoked pork sausages, kidneys and liver. Traditionally, it is served accompanied by mămăligă, cheese and fried eggs.
The Romanian comfort food par excellence, sarmale are made with ground pork meat and rice, wrapped in pickled cabbage leaves. Served with sour cream and the traditional polenta, they are a staple at Christmas dinner as well as family gatherings and celebrations.
A popular Transylvanian dish, varza à la Cluj is a casserole dish that will save you time when there isn’t enough for wrapping sarmale. It basically includes the same ingredients, ground meat, pickled cabbage, tomato sauce and rice, all arranged in layers.
Another popular way of serving pork sausages, iahnia de fasole is particularly suitable for a cold winter day. Make sure to order pickles alongside!
Translated as ‘drum’, tobă is made of the best parts of the pig, such as muscle cuts, liver, kidneys and fat, cut in pieces and stuffed in the stomach f the pig.
Usually served with mashed potatoes and sometimes tomato sauce, these meatballs are made with minced meat, eggs, bread, potatoes, carrots and spices, making them pretty much the healthiest way of eating pork.
Caltaboş is a type of sausage that contains meat, rice as well as pork ears, tongue and other types of offal. It is always served at Christmas, and, unlike other types of sausages, they are cooked by boiling instead of frying.
Piftie is a terrine that is always eaten at Christmas. Although very popular, it is perhaps the hardest dish to find, even in traditional Romanian restaurants, so look for it in specialized butcheries.
The ultimate pork dish, pomana porcului is also the most simple of all. It contains all the tastiest bits, such as the tenderest meat, homemade sausages, liver and several other bits, according to preference, fried in a thick bottomed kettle.