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Last updated : Nov 2009
Romania Social Profile
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Food & Drink

Although there are some regional differences between the provinces, there is a definite national cooking tradition. Dishes include ciorba de perisoare (soup with meatballs), ciorba tãrãneascã (vegetable soup with meat and rice balls served with sour cream), lamb bors, giblet soup and a variety of fish soups. The Romanians do extremely well in full-bodied soups, some of the best being cream of mushroom, chicken, beef, vegetable and bean soup. Sour cream or eggs are also added to soups. Mamaliga (a staple of mashed cornmeal) is served in various ways.

Other national specialities include ghiveci (over 20 vegetables cooked in oil and served cold), tocana (pork, beef or mutton stew seasoned with onions and served with mamaliga), Moldavian parjoale (flat meat patties, highly spiced and served with garnishes), sarmale (pork balls in cabbage leaves), mititei (a variety of highly-seasoned charcoal-grilled meat) and patricieni (charcoal-grilled sausages similar to Frankfurters). Fish dishes include nisetru la gratar (grilled Black Sea sturgeon), scrumbii la gratar (grilled herring)and raci (crayfish).

Desserts include placinte cu poale in briu (rolled cheese pies), Moldavian cozonac (brioche) and pasca (a sweet cheesecake). Pancakes served with jam and doughnuts topped with sour cream or jam are also popular desserts.

Breakfasts almost always include eggs, either soft-boiled, hard-boiled, fried or scrambled. Omelettes, filled with cheese, ham or mushrooms, are also frequently served. Vegetarians may have difficulties, as most local specialities are meat-based. Although there are inexpensive self-service snack bars, table service is the norm.

A traditional drink with entrées is tuicã (plum brandy) which varies in strength, dryness and smell according to locality. Tuicã de Bihor is the strongest and generally known as palinca. Romanian wines have won international prizes and include cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, riesling, pinot gris and chardonnay from the Murfatlar vineyards. Grasa and feteasa from Moldavia’s Cotnari vineyards are also recommended. Many Romanian wines are taken with soda water and hot wine is also popular during winter. Romanian beers are outstanding. Romanian sparkling wines, or methode champagnoise, are very good and of superb value. Glühwein (mulled wine) is another popular Romanian drink. There are no licensing hours, but the legal age for drinking in a bar is 18.


Bucharest has a growing number of discotheques and nightclubs with entertainment and live dancing. Restaurants at most major hotels double as nightclubs and there are also several Parisian-style cafes. Two casinos operate in the Calea Victoriei. Opera is performed at the Romanian Opera House and the Romanian Athenaeum has two symphony orchestras. Folk entertainment is performed at the Rapsodia Romana Artistic Ensemble Hall and there are numerous theatres.


Special purchases include embroideries, pottery, porcelain, silverware, carpets, fabrics, wool jumpers, metal, woodcarvings, rugs, leather goods, glass paintings and silk dresses.

Shopping hours: Monday-Saturday 0600-2100 for small local shops, while larger stores and department stores open earlier and close later. Some shops open Sunday 0600-1200, although these vary according to season.

Social Conventions

Handshaking is the most ordinary form of greeting, but it is customary for men to kiss a woman’s hand when being introduced. Visitors should follow normal European courtesies on social occasions. Dress tends to be rather conservative but casual wear is suitable. Beachwear should not be worn away from the beach or poolside. Smoking is prohibited on public transport, in cinemas and theatres. Many Romanians are smokers and gifts of Western cigarettes are greatly appreciated. Other well-appreciated gifts include toiletries and Western clothing.


Military installations should not be photographed. Some tourist attractions require visitors to pay a fee of approximately Lei2000 for taking photographs.


A 5-10% service tip is customary in restaurants. Porters, chambermaids and taxi drivers expect tips.