traditional Romanian product has its own feast, and this time of the year is
when several celebrations are devoted to fatback. Apart from the traditional
recipes that delight consumers, every time there are new products that appear,
which are the result of chefs' ingenuity. At the SlanaFest festival held in
Cluj in the first week of February, the public were happy to taste fatback and
mozzarella pie and éclairs with pork rind cream, fatback specialties decorated
with culinary gold leafs, as well as pralines with chocolate, chili and
fatback. Apart from exchanging recipes and promoting products, participants
were also interested in organic pig farming, using only grains and fodder, with
no chemicals and preservers.
SlanaFest festival in Cluj was at its 4th
edition this year. Eighteen participants entered the competition, including
Ionut Mangu, who combined traditional fat back with a variety of vegetables,
like horseradish, beet and chili paste to obtain new tastes. To make things
even more interesting, he improved the white and red mix with a little 24-carat
gold, which according to chef Mangu, makes people happier.
We also found out that out of the traditional fatback
recipes, one of the tastiest is cooked by keeping the fatback in sauerkraut
juice prior to smoking it, and then scrubbing beech sawdust into it to give it
Another active participant in relevant festivals is Chef
Radu Garba, who brought a variety of recipes to Cluj:
"I've cooked 4 types of fatback, one with chili powder, one with garlic and
spring onion paste, one with coriander and caraway, and a smoked variety."
Out of Chef
Radu Garba's recipes, the fatback-based deserts were particularly popular among
desserts are éclairs with pork rind cream, éclairs with bean paste and bacon, a
ham, cheese and fatback pie, and pralines with chocolate, chili and fatback."
back pralines have been especially designed for the festival, because at such
events people usually come with the expectation of trying something new, a
variety of tastes and they are open to any new idea. But chef Gârba says that the idea of doing something
new is not original:
"Last year at the SlanaFest one of our colleagues made something similar, and
we wanted to continue the idea this year, by making different recipes. We made
pralines. Our pralines are made of a chocolate shell filled with pieces of
chocolate and of fatback and are coated with ground pistachio, sesame or
walnut. Visitors have been delighted and promised to return next year."
team came to Cluj with an impressive product from a visual point of view: a
small house made of fatback from Mangalita pig and prosciutto, which replicates
the Romanian traditional architecture. The house chimney was made from a sausage
just like the fence. There came people at the festival who prepare pork in
their households traditionally, without making it into a business. They see the
festival as an opportunity to socialize and exchange recipes. We asked Chef
Radu Gârba why he participates in such events:
"I like to compete, that's why I take part in these festivals. I like what I do
and I like to see others' work, I find inspiration in my colleagues' works.
This year I have won the silver and bronze medals."
asked Chef Gârba about the role which fatback can still have in today's world when
there is a lot of hype about healthy food, healthy meaning the opposite of fat:
"Fatback is an important product, it is a
staple food, everybody eats it, it's very tasty and in small amounts it cannot
week another event featuring 'fatback' will be hosted by Sibiu, in central
Romania. Chef Gârba, who will be there, says visitors are in for a lot of