Romania is a land of crossroads: of empire, of geography, and culture, shaped by centuries of rule by the Greeks, Ottomans, and Hapsburgs. The dramatically different geographic regions of Romania include flat plains and soaring mountain peaks, as well as the Danube Delta. But wherever you go in this fascinating country, you find a passion for food and a celebration of tradition. Irina Georgescu
's new book, Carpathia: Food from the Heart of Romania
(Interlink Books, 2020), is a marvelous exploration of Romania's rich culinary heritage, inspired by her family's recipe collection and her recollections of the family's "all hands on deck" approach to cooking and eating.
Georgescu's family emerges as a critical ingredient in the delectable recipes the book serves up. From her colorful uncle who raised pigs for the annual nose-to-tail butchering each December to grandmothers who passed on regional methods, Georgescu's recipes are as redolent with memory and affection as they are with Romania's traditional flavors of paprika, aubergine, pork, and fresh herbs.
Culinary history in Romania is complex. For centuries the country was part of the sprawling Muslim Ottoman empire, which left a legacy of small appetizer plates with delectable spreads and succulant grilled meat. The post-Ottoman Habsburg rule introduced recipes from Austria, Saxony, and Germany: rib-sticking slow braises, comforting noodle and potato dishes, as well as spicy charcuterie, tangy pickles, and fermented preserves as well as sweet jams and jellies.
is filled with recipes that run the gamut from simple spreads to complicated festive dishes. And for anyone with an adventurous streak looking to explore a new culture and cuisine, it offers a window into the fascinating traditions of Romania, emerging from decades of Communist rule to take its rightful place on the map of European culture and cuisine.
Discover more about Irina Georgescu at her website
or by following her delectable photography on Instagram.
Jennifer Eremeeva is a freelance writer specializing in travel, food, lifestyle, history, and culture. She serves as the in-house travel writer for Alexander + Roberts and the food and travel columnist for
The Moscow Times and is the author of Lenin Lives Next Door: Marriage, Martinis, and Mayhem in Moscow