ROMANIAN COOKERY and the period properties of Romania

"A Taste of Romania" by Nicolae Klepper

"Taste of Romania" by Nicolae Klepper

Acquiring, restoring and owning a period property requires a great deal of intellectual work. One has to study and construct an entire imaginary map of the artistic/ architectural value of the building, its history and not the least to attempt recreating the atmosphere and lifestyle associated with the house.

The cuisine specific to the country or the region where the property is located is the usually overlooked aspect in that effort. I believe that finding out how the locals cook or what kind of ingredients they use is an important aspect in successfully recreating the atmosphere and character of a period/ traditional house.

I was fortunate enough to discover some time ago an excellent volume that encompasses those aspirations. That is Nicolae Klepper’s book “Taste of Romania: Its Cookery and Glimpses of Its History, Folklore, Art, Literature an Poetry”, which in my opinion is the finest account on Romanian cookery written in any language in the last two decades, highly superior even to the books published in Romania itself and authored by local specialists. The publisher, Hippocrene, New York, due to the book’s best seller status has issued several editions since it was first available in 1997.

Traditional Romanian cookery, be it that of peasant households or produced in the grand kitchens of the old native aristocratic or bourgeois mansions, puts high price on seasonal local organic produce, meat and herbs that generate an exquisite, unforgettable taste. The many Romanian regional cooking styles represent together a peculiar bridge between the Balkans with its Ottoman heritage and Central European culinary practices, particulars abundantly touched on in Klepper’s book. The hallmarks of the traditional Romanian kitchen are the earthenware pots typically decorated in lively ethnographic motifs and the hearth or rustic hob that uses local firewood, artifacts often found in Romania’s traditional and period houses.

Earthware pots used in traditional cooking, south-central Transylvania

Earthware pots used in traditional cooking, south-central Transylvania

Klepper’s great merit in this book is his holistic approach in presenting the Romanian cuisine: from a historical and ethnographic perspective with references to Romanian art, literature, while at the same time presenting the Romanian cuisine and cooking styles referring to other great culinary traditions of the world. Added to that is the author’s down to earth approach and abundance of practical data and advice, including an extremely useful English-Romanian-French cookery dictionary, equivalences between American and British English cooking terms and conversion tables between imperial, American and metric measures used in cooking.

The book is in my view an excellent companion to anyone interested in recreating the character and heritage of a Romanian period/ traditional property. (©Valentin Mandache, http://www.historo.wordpress.com)

The book is for sale on amazon.com and on Mr. Nicolae Klepper’s website.

Hearth for winter cooking in Romanian peasant house, Bucovina Region

Hearth for winter cooking in a Romanian peasant house, 1930s, Bucovina Region (Valentin Mandache collection)

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If you are interested in acquiring a period property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to assist in locating the property, with specialist research, planning permissions or restoration project management. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the “Contact” page of this weblog.

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