Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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Romania was born as a new state from the 19th-century union of the old principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia. The majority of its population are ethnic Romanians, descendants of Romanized tribes of the ancient Thracians and of Roman colonists after the Roman conquest in AD 106.

Although more than half of Romania is made up of lofty mountains, the country is still overwhelmingly agricultural. maize is (or was until recently) the bedrock of the Romanian diet. The grain is milled into a fine flour which is used for making mamaliga, or ground coarsely for paysatul—two kinds of thick maize porridge which firm up when allowed to cool. These are eaten mixed with cheese, soured cream, or butter, or as a substitute for bread. Nowadays, however, there is a shift away from maize towards wheat, with an increasing urban consumption of bread and other wheat products.