Bread is a staple in a Romanian diet. A loaf of white bread is usually present at every meal. A typical lunch consists of bread with all the fixings: liver pate, cheese, lunch meats, and zacusca (a very good vegetable spread usually made of eggplant). You will probably eat more bread here than you ever do in North America. To most Romanians, a meal is not a meal without meat. Pork and chicken are the most common, though you can also find dishes with fish and beef. Liver pate to Romanians is synonymous to peanut butter to Americans (though this is disputed by some New Horizons staff!) Kids and adults alike love it on sandwiches and crackers. Slanina is pure pork fat that is used for both cooking and eating straight off the block. Goat and wild boar sausages are considered a Romanian delicacy.
There are several traditional Romanian dishes that you will encounter most places. Mamaliga, a cornmeal polenta, is usually served with smantana (sour cream) or branza (a salty sheep cheese). Stuffed cabbage rolls, known as sarmale, are filled with meat and rice. Ciorba (soup) and ghiveci (stew) are prepared in a variety of ways, including vegetable, chicken, meatball, and garlic. Salads are usually lettuce-free and contain cucumbers and tomatoes. Pickled vegetables such as cucumbers, peppers, and cabbage, are very popular here.
Romanians make delicious pastries (placinta) filled with anything from apricots to cheese. Clatite, or thin, rolled crepe-like pancakes, are spread with jam and sour cream. Gogosi (doughnuts), langos (flat fried dough), and covrigi (large pretzels) all make delicious snacks.
Vegetarians, vegans, and lactose-intolerant individuals may feel a bit left out of the high protein, high dairy diet of Romanians. But do not fear. It is possible to restrict meat or dairy products while living here, though you will have to be willing to give and take. Devout Orthodox Christians frequently fast from meat and dairy products (a.k.a. vegan fast) specifically during the Christmas and Easter seasons and every Wednesday and Friday. Therefore, restaurants may provide some vegetarian options and stores often provide some animal-free alternative to the usual (soy cheese, soy or rice milk, soy pate). There are also staff in Lupeni who are vegetarian or on gluten-free diets who can provide more information on options available in the Jiu Valley.