New Year vies with Easter as the most important celebration in the Romanian calendar, the latter being the most important religious celebration of course. New Year’s Eve, Revelion, is an important date in our home as it is Petronela’s birthday – so ‘open house’ in accord with Romanian tradition. All are an ‘excuse’ for a magnificent feast which would please any Yorkshireman. Our tiny flat was stuffed, as were our bellies, with traditional Romanian New Year dance and celebration music as a background (see video clips links at the end of this post).

Carp skeleton

Eaten – crap remains 😉 !

Carp (crap in Romanian) is one important New Year’s Eve dish and, as I reported in an earlier post, I was delighted to find one in Leeds Kirkgate market. This, at 1.5kg, simply baked in the oven for 1 hour at 180degC (in foil) with a couple of garlic cloves inside, was reserved for dinner with Romanian guests who stayed overnight for Revelion – New Year’s Eve, hogmany – celebrations. It is eaten with mujdei – mashed garlic which might be in oil, milk or water to make a sauce. Delicious – see picture!

Birthday ‘open house’ spread

Romanian food and wine for 'open house' on Petronela's birthday - the part of the spread which would fit on the table. Romanians will no doubt recognise things but there's an explanation in the text

Romanian food and wine for ‘open house’ on Petronela’s birthday – the part of the spread which would fit on the table. Romanians will no doubt recognise things but there’s an explanation in the text

While Petronela made two other important dishes the day before – salata de bouef (despite the name, no beef but piept de pui – chicken breast, cartofi – potatoes, morcovi – carrots, pastarnac – parsnip, castraveti murati – pickled cucumbers, mazare – peas, all in maioneza (mayonaise, real home-made mayonaise of course), and parjoale (Romanian meat balls), I was back to Leeds Kirkgate market to Marinela’s Romanian shop for other authentic Romanian food.

I found kaiser (cured pork), carnati taranesc (‘peasant’ sausages), salam Victoria (a salami with whole pieces of ham in a kind of firm pate), salam de Sibiu (Romania’s most famous salami from the town of Sibiu – really delicious), gogosari in otet (red bell peppers pickled in a sweet vinegar), gogonele (green tomatoes – again pickled). Also on the table are pufuleti (puffy corn bites beloved of children – like me), covrigi de Buzau – twisted bread sticks from the city of Buzau,  brezel – little salted pretzels, fursecuri – there are many types of these little sweet pastries but these are cones with Turkish delight inside, nucsoare – little walnut-shaped sweet pastries filled with a nut, cocoa and rum essence mixture, and two renowned Romanian wines, the rose Busuioaca de Bohotin (which our English guests were crazy about) and Grasa de Cotnar (again much appreciated by those of our English guests who prefer a sweet wine). Also on the table, one of our favourite Romanian red wines, 3 Hectare, and home-made (in Romania) cas – sheep’s cheese, from our freezer.


Apart from baking the carp, my contribution to the New Year’s Eve dinner was ciorba de burta – it translates literally as ‘stomach soup’ and if that doesn’t sound very appetising then ‘tripe soup’ won’t sound much better to most people. Even many Romanians (including one of our guests) won’t eat it. It’s delicious: briefly, ox marrow bones and pig’s trotters are boiled up with some onion, garlic and root vegetables for a couple of hours; the cleaned tripe, cut into thin short strips, is simmered in the resulting liquid for an hour or so till it’s tender, then vinegar (preferably from pickled vegetables) is added. It’s finished with egg yolks and sour cream beaten together and added before serving. The best I ever ate was – would you believe it? – in the railway station at Gura Humorului in the Bucovina – but mine was pretty good. One course is friptura (grilled or fried meat); ours were chicken legs, marinaded in wine, oil, garlic and herb and spices then cooked in the oven.

Our Romanian guests brought piftie (or racituri) – basically pieces of tender cooked meat in jelly, another favourite of mine, and sarmalute (stuffed pickled cabbage leaves).


Two video clips of Romanian New Year traditions (click the picture):

My goat is very proud

Picture of Marius Zgaianu with 'goat'






Hi little horses – let’s gallop

Picture of 'horsemen', a Romanian tradition