Meat is big in Romania, and you're generally expected to be a carnivore to cope with traditional Romanian cuisine that favors pork, but includes plenty of fish, widely considered a vegetable in these parts. Traditional staples include mamaliga, a polenta-type pottage made from cornmeal, and sarmale, parcels made with cabbage or vine leaves, stuffed with rice or meat. When you are treated to a multicourse meal, soup (ciorba) is commonly served first, and the main dish is usually accompanied by some kind of salad (salata). Specialties will vary from region to region, as will the tastes of similar dishes, prepared according to local traditions. Generally, most towns you visit will have restaurants, bistros, less formal taverns (taverna), and wine cellars (crama) that double as atmospheric dining halls. Some of these places will have the formal stuffiness preferred in certain Eastern European circles, while down-home-looking eateries are often just fine for a homey, affordable meal. Most restaurants will also have a terrace (terasa), ideal in summer. Romania is also known for its potent homemade brandies, made from plums and other fruit; don't pass up the offer of a tot of tuica (or much stronger palinca), sure to raise your body temperature.

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