The Romani, also known as Roma or Gypsies, are an Indo-Aryan nomadic people living in southern and eastern Europe, Great Britain and North America. Typical Romani foods include wild game and birds, potatoes, rice and vegetables such as onions, swedes and cabbage. These foods tend to be prepared as stews, or fried and are highly seasoned with ground black pepper and hot chili peppers.
Most Romani cooking is done over an open fire in iron pots or kettles, so it is not surprising that many main dishes are in the form of stews or thick soups. In the stew pot, you might find goose, chicken, pork or bacon, as well as wild game like quail and partridge. One of the most popular Romani dishes is rabbit stew, in which chunks of rabbit meat and offal is combined with ham or bacon, small birds, onions, mushrooms and stock. It is seasoned with marjoram, thyme, salt and pepper, and is served in a pastry shell.
Yes, hedgehog. Hedgehog (Hociwici or Niglo in Romany) is considered a delicacy, particularly by French and British Gypsies. The hedgehog is often cooked by wrapping it in clay and baking it on the fire. When the hardened clay shell is removed, the prickles come off as well. Often the hedgehog meat is cooked with agrimony and sorrel, herbs frequently used in Romani dishes. Other cooking methods include stews with onion and tomatoes and even as a lasagna.
Cabbage rolls, or sarmi, are a popular Romani meal; they are a common dish in many Eastern European countries. The cabbage leaves are stuffed with a mixture of ground meat, rice and a hot green pepper such as jalapeno. It's the hot pepper that makes the dish typically Romani. The mixture is then seasoned with black pepper and salt, and cooked in tomato sauce.
Pirogo, or noodle pudding, is a typical Romani dessert that is quite similar to the Eastern European kugel, which is also a pudding baked with noodles, cream cheese and sometimes fruit. Pirogo is made with flat noodles, cream cheese, currants and raisins, layered and dotted with butter. It is then baked.
Coffee and Tea
Very strong black coffee with plenty of sugar in it is a daily beverage of the Romani people. Another favorite drink is Romani tea, or Rromano Cajo, which is very similar to Russian tea. It is served in glasses and garnished with fruit such as strawberries or peaches.
- "We Are the Romani People"; Ian F. Hancock; 2002
- "Romani Culture and Gypsy Identity"; Thomas Alan Acton, Gary Mundy; 1997
- "Gypsy Jazz..."; Michael Dregni; 2008
- "Alice Eats Wonderland"; August Imholtz et al; 2009
- "Unmentionable Cuisine"; Calvin W. Schwabe; 1979
- "The American Ethnic Cookbook for Students"; Mark Zanger; 2001