Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Sarbatoarea Pastelui in Romania

"A Romanian Easter"

Easter (paste /pash-te/ in Romanian) is a very important festival in the Orthodox calendar and possibly even more widely celebrated than Christmas here in Romania. Certainly I noticed that more of a fuss was made over Easter than Christmas in my first years here, although I think that things are changing slightly as time passes and Romania adopts more and more Western European/North American habits. Although not Orthodox myself, I have always thought that the start of spring is a splendid time to celebrate the start of the growing season, rebirth, vitality, and a good excuse for people to get together and enjoy a long meal together.

In Romania, Easter is all about lamb (miel) and most of the dishes are predominately lamb-based. The rest of the year lamb is harder to find in Romania and most of my Romanian friends don’t seem to particular like the taste of it. Many do, however, tolerate it for this one day, although it’s not uncommon for it to be replaced by other ingredients, such a chicken liver in the drob (a kind of lamb organ terrine) or pork for the main course.

I suspect that there may be those of you out there reading this blog who have Romanian friends or family members and, despite not knowing the language or the customs, wish to treat them to a traditional Romanian Easter meal. In this post I’ll outline some of the main components of an Easter feast and over time they’ll turn into links as I do my best to prepare them and test them out on my Romanian friends.

Everyone seems to have their own idea of what comprises a Romanian Easter menu, but some of the items that seem to pop up most frequently are as listed below. There are other dishes that people use, but I’ve tried to only list the ones that are particularly associated with Easter in Romania and a less commonly eaten at other times of the year. If you are preparing a menu for a Romanian Easter, then you can use some of these and add other typical dishes, especially for the starters. As many Romanians aren’t especially keen on lamb, you might want to check first and substitute the lamb with pork or chicken. Also, don’t forget, if you’re planning a surprise Easter meal, that the Orthodox Easter is often on a different day to the Catholic and Protestant Easter.

Starters and aperitifs

Drob in aluat – As above but baked in a pastry shell
Ciorba de miel – Lamb soup
Ouale vopsite – Coloured eggs, for banging together
Sarmale in frunze de varza – Stuffed cabbage leaves

Main Courses

Stufat de miel – Lamb stew
Miel la tava – Roast or braised lamb


Cozonac – A loaf-like cake usually stuffed with walnuts, almonds, or candied fruit

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