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The Many Traditions Of The Traditional Romanian Breakfast


by Beitris Kalinowski



Welcome to the world of traditional Romanian breakfast! Steeped in history and influenced by a rich tapestry of cultures, the Romanian breakfast is a delightful culinary journey that will tantalize your taste buds. From the bustling streets of Bucharest to the charming villages of Transylvania, breakfast holds a special place in the hearts of the Romanian people.


When it comes to food travel, exploring the breakfast scene of a country is a must. And Romania is no exception. It offers a unique and diverse range of flavors, textures, and aromas that reflect the country’s agricultural heritage and culinary traditions.


In this article, we will delve into the origins of the Romanian breakfast, explore the regional variations, highlight the traditional ingredients, share some common dishes, discuss popular drinks, uncover the importance of breakfast in Romanian culture, and even reveal some breakfast etiquette and traditions. So grab a cup of Romanian coffee and let’s embark on a gastronomic journey through the delicious world of Romanian breakfast!


Origins of Romanian Breakfast

The origins of the Romanian breakfast can be traced back to the country’s rich history and diverse influences. Romanian cuisine has been shaped by a mix of indigenous traditions, as well as influences from neighboring countries such as Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey.


One of the key factors that have influenced the Romanian breakfast is the country’s agricultural heritage. Romania has a long-standing tradition of farming and livestock rearing, which has had a significant impact on the variety of ingredients used in breakfast dishes. Consuming hearty breakfasts made with fresh and local produce has been a way of life for generations.


Historically, the Romanian breakfast was simple and focused on providing sustenance for a day of hard work. It consisted of basic ingredients readily available on the farm, such as bread, cheese, milk, and eggs. However, as Romanians began to urbanize and experience the influence of other cultures, the breakfast scene started to evolve.


Over time, the Romanian breakfast incorporated new ingredients and flavors from neighboring countries. For example, the influence of Turkish cuisine introduced dishes like borek, a savory pastry filled with cheese or meat, and menemen, a delicious scramble of eggs, tomatoes, and peppers. Hungarian influences brought about dishes like langós, a deep-fried dough topped with various toppings, and Hungarian sausages.


While the origins of the Romanian breakfast are rooted in simplicity and practicality, modern influences have added a layer of complexity and diversity to the morning meal. Today, you can find a wide array of breakfast options in Romania, ranging from traditional dishes to modern interpretations that cater to various preferences and dietary restrictions.


Regional Variations

Just as Romania is a diverse country with varied landscapes and cultural influences, the breakfast traditions also differ across different regions. Each region of Romania has its own unique flavors and dishes that reflect the local culinary heritage.


In Transylvania, for example, you will find influences from both Hungarian and Saxon cuisines. The breakfast here often includes sausages, bacon, eggs, and a variety of freshly baked bread. A popular regional specialty is Kürtőskalács, a sweet chimney cake sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, perfect for those with a sweet tooth.


In Moldova, located in the northeast of Romania, the breakfast is influenced by the region’s proximity to Ukraine. Traditional dishes include mămăligă, a maize-based polenta, served with sour cream and cheese. Another popular breakfast dish is plăcinte, savory pastries filled with cheese, potatoes, or meat.


The Oltenia region, in the south of Romania, offers a unique breakfast experience. Here, you can indulge in dishes like tocană, a slow-cooked stew made with meat, onions, and tomatoes, served with scrambled eggs and polenta. The region is also known for its tasty brânză de burduf, a type of sheep cheese aged in a sheepskin bag.


When you travel to the Danube Delta, the breakfast takes on a different character. With a strong influence from the river and its bountiful seafood, the breakfast here often includes fish dishes such as fish omelettes and fried fish accompanied by garlic sauce and polenta.


No matter which region you find yourself in, the Romanian breakfast will offer a delightful array of flavors and a glimpse into the unique culinary traditions of that area. Exploring the regional variations of the Romanian breakfast allows you to truly experience the diverse and rich gastronomic culture of the country.


Traditional Ingredients

The traditional Romanian breakfast is characterized by the use of fresh, local ingredients that showcase the country’s agricultural abundance. These ingredients form the foundation of many traditional breakfast dishes and contribute to the rich and flavorful experience.


Bread plays a central role in the Romanian breakfast, with various types of bread being consumed across the country. Whether it’s the hearty sourdough bread, traditional cornbread known as mămăligă, or sweet breads like cozonac, bread is a staple that is often enjoyed with butter, jam, or cheese.


Cheese is another fundamental ingredient in the Romanian breakfast, and there is a wide variety to choose from. One popular type is burduf cheese, made from sheep’s milk and aged in a sheepskin bag. Other common cheeses include brânză de burduf, telemea (a salty white cheese), and caș (a soft, crumbly cheese).


Eggs are a versatile and essential ingredient in the Romanian breakfast. Scrambled eggs, omelettes, and boiled eggs are common preparations that add a protein boost to the morning meal. In some regions, eggs are also featured in traditional dishes like vărză cu ou (cabbage with egg) or echilibrat (a layered dish made with eggs, cheese, and various fillings).


Meat lovers will appreciate the presence of cured meats and sausages in the Romanian breakfast. Popular choices include salami, mici (grilled ground meat rolls), and pastrami. These meaty delights add a savory and satisfying element to the breakfast spread.


Fruits and vegetables are also important components of the traditional Romanian breakfast. Fresh produce like tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, and radishes may be sliced and served alongside the main dishes. Fruits such as apples, plums, cherries, and apricots are commonly enjoyed as a refreshing accompaniment or turned into homemade jams.


Lastly, dairy products like yogurt and sour cream are frequently included in the Romanian breakfast. These creamy additions enhance the flavors of many dishes and provide a cooling and refreshing element.


The combination of these traditional ingredients results in a well-rounded breakfast that satisfies the taste buds and provides the energy needed to start the day. The use of locally sourced ingredients ensures freshness and highlights the country’s commitment to preserving culinary traditions.


Common Dishes

The traditional Romanian breakfast offers a delightful array of dishes that are both satisfying and delicious. These dishes reflect the country’s culinary heritage and are often made with a combination of traditional ingredients and regional flavors. Let’s explore some of the common dishes you can find on a Romanian breakfast table.


Mămăligă with Cheese and Eggs: This dish features the beloved cornmeal polenta, mămăligă, topped with melted cheese and accompanied by fried or boiled eggs. It is a hearty and comforting dish that provides a substantial start to the day.


Plăcinte: Plăcinte are savory pastries filled with ingredients like cheese, potatoes, or meat. They are often served warm, making them a popular choice for a quick and satisfying breakfast on the go.


Omelette with Sausages: A classic breakfast combination, the Romanian omelette is made with beaten eggs and filled with sausages, cheese, vegetables, or a combination of these ingredients. It is a versatile dish that can be customized to suit individual tastes.


Țuică with Cold Cuts: Țuică is a traditional Romanian fruit brandy made from plums, and it is often enjoyed alongside a plate of cold cuts. This combination of strong flavors provides a unique and invigorating start to the day.


Țărăneasca Salad: This refreshing salad is made with diced tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions, and cheese, dressed with oil, vinegar, and fresh herbs. It is a light yet satisfying dish that adds a burst of freshness to the breakfast table.


Langoși: Langoși are deep-fried dough balls that can be served sweet or savory. In the context of breakfast, they are often enjoyed with a variety of toppings such as cheese, sour cream, garlic sauce, or jam.


Cobza cu Slănină: A simple yet flavorful dish, cobza cu slănină features slices of fresh bread smeared with lard and topped with thinly sliced smoked bacon. It is a delicious combination that is popular in rural areas.


Papanasi: No Romanian breakfast is complete without a sweet treat like papanasi. These fried doughnuts made with cottage cheese are served with sour cream and jam. They are indulgent and perfect for those with a sweet tooth.


These are just a few examples of the common dishes you can encounter while enjoying a traditional Romanian breakfast. Whether you prefer savory or sweet, there is a wide range of options to satisfy every palate and culinary preference.



When it comes to drinks, the Romanian breakfast offers a variety of options to complement the flavors of the dishes and provide a refreshing start to the day. From coffee to herbal teas and traditional beverages, there is something for everyone’s taste.


Coffee: Coffee is a staple of the Romanian breakfast. Whether it’s a strong espresso or a smooth cappuccino, coffee is often enjoyed alongside a hearty morning meal. The aroma and taste of freshly brewed coffee help to awaken the senses and provide a caffeinated boost to start the day.


Herbal Teas: Romania is known for its vast selection of herbal teas, which are often enjoyed during breakfast and throughout the day. Popular options include chamomile tea, mint tea, and linden tea. These soothing and aromatic teas offer a calming and refreshing experience.


Fruit Juices: Freshly squeezed fruit juices are a popular choice for breakfast in Romania. From orange juice to apple juice, these vibrant and nutritious beverages provide a burst of vitamins and natural sweetness.


Țuică: As mentioned in the previous section, țuică is a traditional Romanian fruit brandy made from plums. Although strong spirits may not be the first choice for everyone at breakfast, some may enjoy a sip of țuică alongside certain dishes, particularly in more rural areas.


Fruit Compotes: Fruit compotes, made by boiling fruits such as cherries or plums in water with sugar and spices, are commonly served as a refreshing and slightly sweet drink during breakfast. They can be enjoyed hot or cold, depending on personal preference.


Milk: Milk is a versatile beverage often enjoyed with breakfast. Whether it’s a glass of cold milk, a warm cup of cocoa, or a refreshing glass of buttermilk, dairy products play an important role in the Romanian breakfast experience.


Mineral Water: Some people prefer to start their day with a glass of mineral water to hydrate and cleanse their system. Romania is blessed with natural mineral springs, and mineral water consumption is common throughout the country.


Whether you prefer to have your breakfast with a steaming cup of coffee, a calming herbal tea, or a fresh and fruity juice, the variety of drinks available in the Romanian breakfast ensures that you can find the perfect beverage to complement your meal and suit your preferences.


Importance of Breakfast in Romanian Culture

Breakfast holds a significant place in Romanian culture, both as a culinary tradition and as a social ritual. It is a cherished time for families and friends to gather, connect, and start the day off together.


In Romanian culture, breakfast is seen as the most important meal of the day. It provides the necessary fuel to kickstart the morning and sets the tone for the rest of the day. It is believed that a hearty and nutritious breakfast contributes to good health, energy, and productivity.


Family is highly valued in Romanian culture, and breakfast often serves as a time for loved ones to come together before they start their day. It is a moment to share stories, exchange news, and strengthen bonds. Breakfast is also an opportunity for parents to instill healthy eating habits in their children and pass down traditional recipes and cooking techniques.


The Romanian breakfast is not rushed or taken lightly. It is a leisurely affair that encourages people to slow down, savor their food, and enjoy the moment. In many households, breakfast is a time for homemade dishes and freshly brewed coffee or tea, creating a sense of comfort and warmth.


Furthermore, breakfast in Romania is typically a bountiful feast. The spread often includes various dishes, such as bread, cheese, eggs, meats, and fruits, ensuring that everyone gets a well-rounded and fulfilling meal. The emphasis on a diverse and balanced breakfast highlights the importance of nourishing the body and providing sustained energy throughout the day.


Breakfast also plays a role in social gatherings and special occasions. It is common for Romanians to celebrate milestones, such as birthdays or holidays, with a festive breakfast spread. These gatherings often involve an abundance of traditional dishes, shared laughter, and cherished moments of togetherness.


Overall, breakfast is deeply intertwined with Romanian culture, reflecting not only the importance of nourishing the body but also the value placed on family, connection, and tradition. It is a time of warmth, love, and celebration, making the Romanian breakfast experience truly special.


Breakfast Etiquette and Traditions

In Romanian culture, breakfast is not just about the food itself, but also about the customs, etiquette, and traditions that surround the meal. These practices add a sense of charm and richness to the breakfast experience.


One common breakfast tradition in Romania is the act of saying “La mulți ani!” (meaning “Happy birthday” or “Cheers!”) when clinking glasses. This tradition is often observed when celebrating special occasions or simply enjoying a morning drink with loved ones.


Another traditional aspect of the Romanian breakfast is the art of hospitality. Guests are warmly welcomed and offered a variety of delicious dishes, ensuring that they are well-fed and satisfied. It is a gesture of kindness and generosity to make sure that everyone has a fulfilling start to their day.


Respecting mealtime is an important element of breakfast etiquette in Romania. It is customary to arrive on time for breakfast, as punctuality is highly valued. Being late might be seen as a sign of disrespect or lack of consideration for others.


A traditional Romanian breakfast often involves a spread of dishes placed on the table. It is customary to serve oneself from the communal dishes rather than expecting someone else to serve you. This promotes a sense of self-sufficiency and independence while also allowing for individual preferences and portion sizes.


Engaging in pleasant conversation is an integral part of the Romanian breakfast experience. It is common for family members and friends to discuss various topics and share stories during the meal. This fosters connection, strengthens relationships, and creates a warm and convivial atmosphere.


When it comes to table manners, it is polite to wait for everyone to be seated and for the host to signal the start of the meal before digging in. It is also customary to use utensils, such as forks and knives, to eat most dishes. However, it is acceptable to use your hands for foods like bread or pastries, provided they are being eaten as part of a larger dish.


Lastly, it is considered polite to compliment the cook in Romanian culture. Expressing gratitude and appreciation for the effort put into preparing the breakfast is a way of showing respect and acknowledging the host’s culinary skills.


By observing these breakfast etiquette and traditions, one can fully immerse themselves in the cultural experience of a Romanian breakfast. These customs add depth and meaning to the meal, creating a sense of unity, connection, and appreciation for the food and the people around the table.


Modern Changes to Romanian Breakfast

The breakfast scene in Romania has evolved over the years, adapting to changing lifestyles, influences from other cultures, and the demands of a fast-paced world. While traditional breakfast dishes remain popular, there have been some modern changes that reflect the evolving tastes and preferences of the Romanian people.


One noticeable change is the incorporation of international flavors and ingredients into the Romanian breakfast. With the globalization of food trends, you can now find dishes inspired by cuisines from around the world in breakfast menus. From avocado toast and smoothie bowls to pancakes and granola, these modern additions bring a fresh and vibrant twist to the traditional Romanian breakfast.


Cafés and brunch spots have also gained popularity in urban areas across Romania. These establishments offer a contemporary twist on breakfast, with trendy and Instagram-worthy dishes that combine flavors, textures, and presentation in creative ways. Brunch culture has become a social phenomenon, providing a relaxed and stylish setting for friends and family to gather and enjoy a leisurely breakfast.


Moreover, there has been an increased focus on health-conscious options in the Romanian breakfast scene. Many individuals are now seeking out nutritious and balanced breakfast choices to fuel their day. This has led to the rise of smoothie bowls made with fresh fruits and vegetables, overnight oats topped with nuts and seeds, and various plant-based alternatives to traditional animal-derived products.


Breakfast-on-the-go has become more prevalent as well. With busy schedules and hectic lifestyles, many Romanians opt for convenience when it comes to their morning meal. Grab-and-go options such as pre-packaged sandwiches, yogurts, and energy bars are readily available, allowing people to have a quick and portable breakfast option as they commute or rush to work.


Lastly, the rise of technology and online platforms has made it easier for people to explore recipes, discover new breakfast ideas, and share their culinary creations. Online food communities and social media platforms have created a space for individuals to showcase their personal twists on the Romanian breakfast and connect with like-minded food enthusiasts.


While the traditional Romanian breakfast continues to be cherished and celebrated, these modern changes reflect the dynamic nature of food culture. The incorporation of international flavors, the emphasis on health-conscious options, and the convenience-driven choices all contribute to a vibrant and evolving breakfast scene in Romania.



The traditional Romanian breakfast is a culinary journey that combines flavors, traditions, and cultural heritage to create a truly unique dining experience. From the origins rooted in simplicity to the regional variations that showcase the diverse landscapes of the country, the Romanian breakfast offers a delightful array of dishes and drinks that reflect the richness of Romanian culture.


With its focus on fresh, local ingredients and the importance placed on family and connection, the Romanian breakfast holds a special place in the hearts of the Romanian people. It is not just a meal to nourish the body but also a time for bonding, storytelling, and celebration.


While traditional dishes like mămăligă, plăcinte, and omelettes continue to be cherished, modern changes have brought new flavors, influences, and dining habits to the Romanian breakfast scene. International flavors, health-conscious options, and convenience-driven choices have emerged to cater to the evolving tastes and lifestyles of the Romanian people.


Whether you prefer a leisurely Sunday brunch at a trendy café, a traditional homemade breakfast with family, or a quick and nutritious meal on the go, the Romanian breakfast offers something for everyone. It is a celebration of flavors, a testament to the country’s culinary diversity, and a reflection of the warmth and hospitality that defines Romanian culture.


So, the next time you find yourself in Romania, immerse yourself in the flavors and aromas of the Romanian breakfast. Indulge in the traditional dishes, explore the regional variations, and embrace the modern changes that have shaped this beloved meal. Let the culinary delights of the Romanian breakfast awaken your senses and leave you with a deep appreciation for the rich food culture of this beautiful country.