The most common methods to preserve pork, which is a staple in Romanian cuisine.
Pork is a staple in Romanian traditional
cuisine. So much so that slaughtering pigs is a tradition with a whole array of
rituals attached to it, as you may know from countless other shows. Even though
the weather in winter in Romania is quite cold, the large quantity of meat
resulting has to be preserved by means other than cold. The most common
methods, as in many other parts of the world, are salting, cooking or smoking,
or a combination of those.
One of the most common means of preserving
various pork products was to put them in lard. Lard is traditionally obtained
by melting small pieces of fatback in a large cast iron pot over an open fire.
The resulting lard is placed in jars, and in that people preserve all manner of
pork products, from simple cuts of meat to sausages. Sometimes raw sausages are
fried in the lard they get preserved in.
These customs are
quite old, as old as the villages and cities they are kept. Many fortified
cities in Transylvania, where pork is eaten more, had actual towers with a
special room for preserving cuts of meat. In winter, men would cut blocks of
ice and wrap them in straw to make cold storage. These towers were referred to
as Fatback Towers. In order to prevent the ice melting, it was a general rule
that people would only open the cold rooms once a week, Sunday after mass.
Salted and smoked
fatback is still a staple of winter meals, generally eaten with bread and red
onion dipped in salt. Enjoy!