In February, the region around the historic city of Sibiu holds the honorary title of European Gastronomic Region, awarded by the International Institute for Gastronomy, Culture, Arts, and Tourism
The ceremony for granting this award, previously held by 7 regions in Europe, involved a culinary demonstration by 50 chefs, who prepared special meals for cadets with the Academy of Land Forces in the city of Sibiu. A national chain of stores had promotions dedicated to this event, selling locally made products. Representatives from the organization that granted the award, as well as representatives from other European regions granted the award, were invited to Sibiu to visit the county of the same name and take part in culinary events. Members of the local consortium who hold this year the event to promote Sibiu as a European Gastronomical Region plan to launch the concept of Sibiu local cuisine under the name of “Shepherd Cuisine”.
Shepherding is the traditional occupation for the inhabitants of the 18 Romanian and Saxon villages around Marginimea Sibiului, a tourist destination where we find many traditional households that are ready for hosting guests. The Romanian villages in Marginimea Sibiului have a rich food tradition with dairy and mutton as staples. One of them is the so-called 'bulz', which is sharp cured cheese covered in polenta. It is often cooked on a charcoal grill. To make bulz, you ideally would make a sturdy polenta out of traditionally milled maize. The balls of polenta with cheese are cooked on the grill until the crust starts cracking. They are then covered in sour cream. One other version is to cover the bulz in raw clay, and then set it right in the fire to cook. Speaking of covering in clay for cooking, the locals have a tradition of cooking an entire sheep covered in a layer of clay.
One traditional dish from Marginimea Sibiului that drew our attention is a Saxon dish, a veal stew. If you happen to stay at a B&B in Marginimea Sibiului and you catch a day with nice weather, you may have the pleasant surprise of witnessing the host cooking this veal stew over an open fire in a Dutch oven. To make this at home, first take a few onions, peel and chop them finely. Sweat the onion in oil. Cube the veal in small chunks, place it in the Dutch oven, and add water to cover, then start simmering it. Slice two green peppers finely, finely cube 2 or 3 tomatoes, mince a few cloves of garlic, and add them to the preparation. When it is almost cooked, add a bay leaf, a cup of red wine, and salt to taste. The stew is served hot, with a side of polenta, and a glass of fine wine. Enjoy!