Visit To Romania


No, unfortunately I am not (YET) taking a trip to my country as much as I wish but Joan of Foodalogue does (Lucky Her) in an attempt of a Culinary Trip Around The World with the goal of raising awareness and promote the effort to fight World Famine through BloggerAid or the World Food Programme and other trustful organizations. I’ll add here Heifer International, an organization with an effective program to provide all sorts of livestock to impoverished families around the world.

So, in light of that I thought of prepping a dish I grew up with and even if I cannot necessarily attribute it to the “Romanian Cuisine” (if there is such thing), at least I can blame it to the region I grew up in – Timisoara, Romania.

One Dish, Many Names

Just to give you an idea of the fusion of cultures in Romania (Transylvania, mainly) – each town, main city to tiny village, has at least 2-3 names, each attributed to the language of the culture it houses. For instance my town is called Timisoara in Romanian), Temesvar in Hungarian and Germans call it Temeswar.

And of course the same thing happens with food. One dish has many names, but means one thing – well, with slight variations, depending on who is cooking. For instance Hungarians main resource for fat is pork lard, Romanians prefer vegetable oil. Rantas (roux) is a widely use component in Hungarian cooking, while Romanians do well on thinner stews or soups like the well-known ciorba.

But in the end all Transylvanian cultures will sit down at the end of a day and would enjoy each other variations without any fuss.

I could have made Sarmale of Mamaliga but they are too well known already so I thought of something a little more obscure for those in the West but full of character: widespread and known as Mititei.

Mititei or also known as Mici (translated meaning the plural for little, very small) is nothing else but the Romanian version of the glorious hamburger in America. I grew up with it, and it was part of a very typical day that my Dad after work, would take me along with him to go out with his friends to enjoy this quick dinner, that of course calls for beer (does it ring a bell?).

The small sausage-like shaped Mititei is similar to the kebobs grilled in the Middle East, and the main traditional ingredients are a mix of minced mutton and pork meat. There are of course tons of variations on quantity and ingredients but the one I recommend that I often make is the following:

– 1 Lb ground pork
– 1 Lb ground lamb
– 1 Tsp salt
– 7 cloves minced garlic
– 1 Tsp baking soda
– 1 Tsp pepper
– 1 Tsp dried thyme
– 1/4 Cup stock

Mix ingredients, fold in enough stock, to have the mix of the same consistency of a hamburger mix. Leave mixture in the fridge overnight.
When ready, start you charcoal grill (please, tradition calls for charcoal), and shape mix into sausage like shapes, 3 or 4 inches wide. Grill them on high temperature, and serve them immediately with dijon mustard and of course with plenty cold beer.

Mititei (Romanian Style)

Of course the secret in this recipes lies in the garlic. Garlic abounds in Romania. I am just keep wondering why Dracula the Vampire made it his residence! Enjoy!

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11 thoughts on “Visit To Romania”

  • So glad you did this! I did mititel too, but mine was not as successful as yours. I’m glad readers will get an opportunity to see your authentic version. The recipe I followed call for beef — I’d much prefer the pork/lamb mixture. Thanks so much for participating and adding your insight.

  • I remember eating these wonderful mititei in Romania and loved them! I have made them several times but didn’t quite get the flavor right.

    Thanks for sharing your recipe. I also participated in this event and linked to your mitetei recipe.

  • I love this kind of rustic fare especially when there’s beer, good mustard and fresh rye bread to go with it. I’d have this over 5 star dining any day of the week. Beautiful dish and a great entry for Romania.

  • Thanks folks for the comments!

    Joan: Thanks much for the invitation. I did it with beef-pork also – turns out sort of dry. The pork-lamb mix makes it somewhat more moist.

    Sam: Indeed – the broth is a instant flavor and moisture addition to anything! I make weekly a huge chicken broth pot, then freeze it.

    Liliana: Thanks! I also thought that mine didn’t come close to the ones I had in Romania but at least got close.

    Giz: Thanks a lot! Glad you liked it! Absolutely, good beer, mustard and rye is a must!

    Maggie: Thanks! Hehehe – I don’t want to tell you what OTHER meat scraps are used by Romanians. Heheheh! Thanks!

  • Next spring I’m moving from Wales to a village in the mountains north of the Bran-Rucar corridor and am looking forward to experimenting with Romanian recipes, making yoghurt and cas afumat with the beautiful milk straight from the neighbour’s cow, making salads with the herbs from the wildflower meadows and trying my first batch of visinata from my own cherry trees. Food quality is so high there because it’s all organic, clean, local, sun-ripened, etc – perfect for a food lover like me. Great to find your blog!

  • Arabella!

    Moving to Romania in a village?? How cool that can be! You’ll have the most coveted organic sources at hand – for which people would pay thousands to have access!
    Not to speak that those foods are not contaminated with pesticides, hormones, etc., etc.

    Visinata??? Boy do I miss that!

    Stay in touch and keep me posted of your venture – this is VERY interesting.

  • My daughter i-l and her mom from Bucharest made the best sarmale. They’l wrap the stuffing in a jiffy. One morning they can cook for 50 people, and still have time to make salads (egg plants, etc.) and tend to the rising sweet breads.
    I enjoyed my visit there.

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