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Posts Tagged ‘romania’

Mici

As previously stated, I’m of Romanian decent. Last week I was given the chance to really learn from some first generation Romanians about my cultural and culinary heritage. It was pretty awesome, to say the least. When hanging out with my new found friends I sampled a few different, home-distilled brandies (which are akin to moonshine) called tuica. I got to sample an assortment from both Romania and from the States that were made from plums, pears and apples. Also, I was given the opportunity to try homemade mici, also known as mititei.

Mici is kind of like kabob, in a way, and is like a handmade, caseless sausage containing beef, pork and lamb with an array of herbs and spices. Its absolutely delicious, easy to make and filling. After returning home, I promptly tried my hand at it. This is what I did.


Let me state now that I apologize for the cell phone pictures for this recipe (and, basically, for the whole blog), they make the food look less than appetizing but I promise this is a great dish. Okay, back to the recipe. First, I picked up some ground pork, lamb and beef. You can, by all means, pick up meat from the butcher and grind it yourself in a food processor or meat grinder for even fresher ingredients, but for time’s sake I went with ground.


In a bowl, combine a good amount, about a third of a pound of each meat, and some paprika, dried parsley, cumin, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper and, I’m not completely sure why, a small amount of baking soda. Mash the mixture together with freshly washed hands until everything is good and mixed and then form into long, sausage-like shapes, a little more than the width of your thumb.


Heat up your griddle pan, grill pan, grill or, like me, a saute pan (with a little olive oil) to medium heat. Place the mici on the cooking surface and cook fully through. Mici definitely tastes the best when grilled, however my current living situation makes grilling a daunting task, so for posterity’s sake I used a pan.


Once the mici is fully cooked, plate and serve with some fresh bread and brown mustard. I’ve added a few slices of tomato with balsamic and olive oil for a vegetable. This is definitely worth making.

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Romania



As an American from Romanian descent, and having a Romanian last name, I get a bit frustrated with the way my great grandparents’ home country is represented in the media. Especially after I watch the Romanian episode of No Reservations, where one of my heros, Anthony Bourdain, traipses through the country with Russian stereotype Zamir and depicts the place as a backwards, down-trodden Dracula theme park with no culinary history.

Can I blame Anthony Bourdain and the crew of No Reservations for making a show like this? The answer is an unwavering “No”. After reading his subsequent blog entry about the episode, one can take away that they weren’t trying to make a show like this and they weren’t trying to paint Romania in a bad light, that’s just what happened, much like the episode in Sicily. However, I can say that the way the show was edited made it seem that, much like every other representation of Romania in the English speaking media, Bourdain and Co. didn’t want to, or try to, show any of Romania’s good points, of which it has quite a few. In my opinion, it was just another biased joke at an entire nations expense.

Either way, this isn’t an essay dedicated to bashing one of my literary, travel and culinary idols. I’m merely stating that Romania gets an unfair depiction in contemporary media. To quote John Peterson, from the Romanian Times:

“My feeling was (and still is) that Romania is a great “undiscovered” place to go, that it has lots to see and wonderful out-of-door venues.”

“What impressed me most was that Romania ‘fits together’. It is a culture and has a sense of place, with great landscape as a setting.”

“It is not a plastic tourist attraction, but a living, breathing neighborhood that is fascinating to engage, see and enjoy.”

In terms of culinary heritage, while nowhere near some of its neighboring nations, Romania has made some contributions. Being on the most eastern borders of the Roman Empire, many different cultures passed through the area now know as Romania and all left something different behind. One site that has showcased, perhaps better than I could, is The Culinary Anthropologist. Check it out here.

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