1. The taste of your childhood is called Pufuleți.
Pufuleți is a crunchy snack made of corn, produced only in Romania. While its flavour is fairly regular and wouldn’t impress a foreign visitor, to you it brings back memories of your schooldays.
2. Pork is king.
Even though you may eat chicken quite often, beef once in a while, and lamb on Easter Sunday, nothing compares to pork steak, grilled pork, sausages, and other products prepared from the meat of a pig — especially if they’re homemade.
3. You know the subtleties of jam.
You can distinguish between about four different types of jam from the same fruit, the difference coming mostly from the amount of sugar added. For you, magiun, gem, marmeladă</>, and dulceață are not the same thing.
4. And speaking of jam, the bitter cherry one is your winner, by far.
5. You know food falls into one of two categories: de post or de frupt.
You may not be religious, and you may not even be Orthodox Christian like the majority of the country’s population, but the distinction between “de post” (allowed to eat when fasting in the Orthodox Christian manner — it largely corresponds to vegan food) and “de frupt” (everything else) cannot escape you. During advent or lent, products labelled de post multiply in stores,\; you can find special shelves set aside for them in supermarkets, and some restaurants even add entire de post sections to their menus.
6. You almost always have sour cream in your fridge.
You put it in stews, sauces, or oven-baked dishes. You eat it with stuffed peppers, soup, or bread — and even some desserts.
7. No Christmas goes by without cabbage rolls and cozonac — a sponge cake with raisins, nuts and cocoa, that takes ages to prepare.
8. You eat almost everything with bread.
9. And you have clear preferences in regards to pretzels.
Romania’s main street food, pretzels come in a multitude of shapes, flavours and textures. They can be salty or sweet, topped with poppy seeds, sesame seeds or ground salt, containing raisins, olives, apples or even chocolate.
You can’t tell a friend: “Just buy me a pretzel.” You need to be specific.
10. On special occasions, nothing beats the six types of homemade creamy cakes with nuts, jam, rum, cocoa or coffee that your mother prepares.
Worlds away from the fruit tarts, brownies and cheesecakes you can buy in most cafés.
11. No matter how tiny your kitchen is, you have at least three shelves filled with preserves.
A vegetable spread called zacuscă, pickled cucumbers, red pepper, cabbage, green tomatoes, watermelons, cauliflower, and just about anything that can be kept for a long time in a jar of salty water or vinegar.
12. Next to a summer barbecue with your family, you recognize the unmistakable smell of mici.
Rolls made of ground meat, with garlic and baking soda among the ingredients — to be eaten with mustard. And bread.
13. And when the barbecue is over, it’s watermelon time.