As I said once before, it took me some time to adjust to the food here, and to be honest I still haven’t fully appreciated that Romanian is one of The World’s Great Cuisines, but, for your delectation, I've collected half a dozen exquisite examples that do present it at its best:
#6 Slănina: Romanian heaven will be made of slănina: they’ll be thrones carved from a solid blocks of it, and the white clouds upon which pass the harp-strumming gypsy seraphim and cherubim lăutari will also be slănina, still dripping translucent globules of cardiac-arresting goodness from their warming on the end of a stick at some celestial camp fire.
#5 Salată: This word covers both “salad” and “lettuce”, and of course the two meanings are not mutually exclusive. If you order salată in a Romanian restaurant you may very well get lettuce.......... with SUGAR on it.
#4 Sarmale: Actually, this is perfectly respectable food, one of the Archetypal Foods of Eastern Europe, a legacy from the Ottomans and recreated in one form or another by many nations over here. A confection of cabbage leaves and pig nonsense (lungs, knees, testicles, etc), and flavoured with savoury, a herb we no longer use in Britain, because it’s rubbish, and which for some reason I cannot smell without feeling ill.
#3 Cluj Tap Water: I recently organised a “no-frills” holiday for ourselves and some of Mrs Dilo’s friends and requested that we all “pack light”. Sure enough, the girls forewent many of their party dresses, but I couldn’t believe the amount of provisions they’d bought from home. The most astonishing was a 1 litre bottle of water. “Is that mineral water??”, I asked. “No, it’s tap water, I wasn’t sure if the water in Spain would be any good”. Bless.
#2 Ant Piss: Mrs Dilo: “When we were children we used to stick a twig into an ants’ nest, pull it out after a few minutes, shake the ants off and suck the twig. It’s got quite a funny taste - a bit acid.”
#1 Bulă: A pig, lovingly executed with a Stanley knife, five full-sized cabbages shoved up its arse, its ears shoved up its nose, fried for five hours, then covered in a layer of mashed potato moulded in the shape of a slightly larger pig. (OK, I made that one up).
Ok. Now, at the end of this week I'm off back to the land of fish 'n' chips and Cheesy Wotsits, to my ancestral birthplace, the only two famous sons of which were Pope Adrian IV and Vinnie Jones, and so, 'cos the YouTube clip of Pope Adrian's version of My Way seems to have been removed, and while we have bad taste very much in mind.... take it away Vinnie! (and please don't bring it back again, ever):