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Sarmale 23/06/2010

Posted by allthingsro in food.

Sarmale are things of wonder. Minced pork mixed with rice, onion, herbs and spices, then wrapped in cabbage leaves and served with cream.

Sarmale also require intensive labour. The cabbage leaves need to be blanched to soften them, the meat and rice mixture needs to be made. And those little packages of culinary wonder need to be boiled for several hours.

Sarmale in English-language literature

Sarmale appear in The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon, set in the Jewish homeland that might have been in Sitka, Alaska. As tough-talking, hard-drinking detective Meyer Landsman is wrapping up a murder case and achieving reconciliation with his wife, Bina, he begins to crave sarmale. Mrs Kalushiner serves them on Wednesday night – Romanian night – at the Vorsht. They are “at once light and dense, favoring hot pepper over sweet-and-sour, drizzled with sour cream, topped with sprigs of fresh dill.”1

1 Michael Chabon (2007) The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, Harper Perennial, London, p.373



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