Romanian food is your guide to Romania’s history, traditions and culture. The Romanian cuisine is a diverse blend of different dishes from several traditions with which it has come into contact, but it also maintains its own character. Romanian traditional foods heavily feature meat, especially pork. Alors... what does it make Romanian food so special? Back to history, well....and geography! Romania is a study in contrasts. Like the Romanian climate for instance, which is icily cold in winter and fiercely hot in summer, or the Romanians who can be consumed with melancholy listening to the doina (poignant country songs of love and longing) or elevated to a passionate frenzy when dancing the hora or the calusari. Like the powerful wind called the crivatz, which whips up the snow in the winter and drives the yellow-grey dust in the summer, the Romanian soul is alternately gay and animated or sad and despairing – but NEVER dull! Probably it is those same fertile pastures, orchards, vineyards, and fields of grain that enticed the Roman conquerors about 100 C.E. In exchange for the grain and the gold that they took from the land, they built bridges and roads; but more important they built the beginnings of an identity and left a language and culture that is proudly preserved to this day. The strength of the Roman cultural identity can be better appreciated when one realizes that Romania was and still is almost surrounded by Slavic peoples and even counts within her own population more than a dozen ethnic groups. Talk about a Melting Pot! Despite this, more than 90% of the population speak Romanian, which is one of the 5 Romance languages alongside Portuguese, Spanish, French, and Italian. Further, their homogeneity is displayed not only in their almost ‘universal’ or ‘global’ temperament and tastes but also in their religion, for the vast majority of the population are members of the Romanian Orthodox Church. Romania had and still has a tumultuous history, as it is situated in a geographical position that made it a prime target for many invading nations. Romanian territories were occupied in turns or simoultaneously by Turks, Austro-hungarians, Russians. NONETHELESS, Romanians are a Latin people! Where else in the world would you find such a mixture? The diversity of the Romanian cuisine is quite high because of this and a careful observer will notice traces of many international cuisines in the Romanian traditional cuisine. For example, the north-eastern part of Romania, Moldavia, neighbouring Ukraine, several dishes from these neighbours found their way in the cuisine of this particular region. The southern part of the country displays its relationship with the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire, not only in the cuisine but also in the style of life, which is more relaxed than in the north or west. Dishes that are specific to Turkey, such as halva or coffee, or to Greece, such as baklava and 'musaca' (Moussaka - Greek: moussakas; Romanian: musaca; Turkish: musakka; South Slavic: мусака; Arabic: musaqqaʿa), quickly became part of the Romanian cuisine. The Western part of Romania, Transylvania, shows some influences of the German and Hungarian cuisines. Dishes are spicier here, and ingredients such as paprika are often used to season traditional Romanian meals.