I’ve mentioned the food here a little throughtout my various posts, but I haven’t elaborated about what I’ve been eating here, so starting now I will attempt to post at least once a month about some of the unique or usual traditional dishes, snacks and beverages of Moldova.
I wanted to kick this series off with my personal favorite of the traditional Moldovan dishes – placinta. The first time I tasted still warm from the pan, homemade placinta, I knew I would love living here.
Placinta (pronounced pla-chin-ta) is everywhere here, its one of the most common traditional dishes. Its impossible to miss, in just about every magazine or alimentara (similar to convience stores) throughout the entire country, it’s the equivalent staple of a 7-11 store hot dog – a cheap on the go snack. But that’s just the store bought version – this traditional dish is also a staple in every masa (large celebratory meal), in Moldova.
Placinta is fried bread with filling, usually brinza (homemade cheese), varza (cabbage) or cartofi (potatoes). In the fall you see boston (pumpkin) placintas, in the summer with visine (sour cherries) and year round occasionally an apple placinta, even occasionally a meat placinta, but usually placinta is a vegetarian dish. Sometimes the brinza is mixed with sour cream to create an almost paste for the filling, sometimes brinza and cabbage are mixed and sometimes in the summer the brinza is mixed with dill – creating my personal favorite filling.
The ratio of fillings to bread, the thickness of the bread or dough used, whether its barely fried or deep-fried, the amount and type of fillings all vary greatly and getting them just right is what creates the perfect placinta. The store bought placintas tend to be bready, almost like a circular and flatter croissant with fillings throughout each layer of dough, but sometimes are simply phyllo dough deep fried, almost like a large dumpling in shape. Homemade placintas vary even more, from the ones with phyllo dough crusts that are almost spanikopia like in bread texture and so very light, to the more common flat heavy placintas, where dough is rolled out, filling placed in the center, then the dough is folded over and deep fried or to the ones in the south that look almost like wraps.
Homemade, deep-fried, heavy placinta is the ultimate comfort food, the cabbage and cheese is perfect as the temperatures here drop into the winter, the brinza and dill in phyllo dough is the perfect light summer meal and the corner store’s variety is perfect for a cheap and easy work pick me up lunch.
Sometimes I wonder how there isn’t an obesity epidemic here with the amount of placinta that’s constantly consumed around me. Personally I blame my love of placinta for my winter weight gain and the need to run regularaly here.
Note: For further information on placinte, see my piece published here.