Belgian and Romanian cuisines have put up impressive fights on The World Cup of Food, and choosing one over the other has been probably our most difficult final choice to date. We suppose that can be expected given that this is the first matchup of the second level of the qualifying competition and matches should only get more closely contested as we proceed.
Romanian cuisine is, if you were to guess solely based on our earlier features rosii umplute cu vinete (eggplant-stuffed tomatoes) and ardei umpluţi (stuffed bell peppers), centered entirely around stuffing things with other things. This, of course, could not be further from the truth, and while a Romanian cook does hold a certain love for stuffing, the cuisine is as varied as any. Countless roasted meats, stews, soups, salads, vegetable dishes, breads, and dumplings have made their way into Romania through the Italian, Central European, Russian, Greek, and Turkish influences on the culture. That said, when deciding what to feature next we could not look past sarmale, stuffed cabbage rolls (recipe follows).
We stuffed things in hopes of honoring the cuisine of Draculas everywhere. We fried veal. We ate bacon and potatoes, and silly little wafer cookies. We did our research. For the first time in this competition, we both felt that there was a clear winner, a cuisine that was not only fun to make and delicious in our home, but one that we anxiously await our further adventures with. That cuisine is…
The Romanians truly love to stuff things, as we explored earlier. This time we present a recipe for the salad course, rosii umplute cu vinete, a fresh tomato stuffed with roasted eggplant.
Romanian cuisine took its shape as a point of crossroads between western Europe, the Ottoman Empire, and Russia. Romanians over the years have created their own versions of some of the greatest hits of those regions, like Romanian borscht, dolmas, and polenta. The geography of Romania, from the rugged Carpathian mountains in the north and center of the nation, the Black Sea coastline in the southeast, and the fertile Danube and Prut river valleys, have given the Romanian kitchen access to an ample supply of grain, produce, meat, and dairy that is reflected in the imaginative variety of the cuisine.