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Last Updated: Monday, 1 January 2007, 16:40 GMT
Coming up: Food from the new EU
In 2004 Poland joined the European Union and two years later UK supermarkets started competing to stock the richest range of Polish food.

Banitsa (Wikipedia)
The best banitsa is rolled, and baked in a spiral pattern
Beetroot soup, stuffed cabbage leaves and chocolate-covered marshmallows are now being imported in an attempt to attract Britain's Poles, and arouse the curiosity of other shoppers.

Ready-made own-brand Polish meals are expected to follow in 2007.

This week Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU, so it could be that dishes from these countries will also one day appear on our shelves.

Petru Clej of the BBC's Romanian Service, and Svetla Bobeva, who worked for the BBC Bulgarian Service before it closed in 2006, gave some examples of foods that their compatriots cannot live without.

ROMANIA

Mamaliga: This is Romania's version of polenta, made from yellow maize flour, and eaten with butter, sour cream and cheese. In rural areas it is sometimes made thick enough to slice and used as a substitute for bread. It can also be cooked to a softer consistency and eaten with a spoon.

Numerous dishes can be made with mamaliga, including bulz - balls of mamaliga filled with cheese and roasted.

Mamaliga is so central to Romanian life, that Bulgarians sometimes refer to Romanians pejoratively as Mamaligi - though the dish exists in Bulgaria too, under the name kachamak.

One elderly Romanian voiced anxieties about Romania's membership of the EU, telling BBC correspondent Oana Lungescu: "We'll no longer be able to make our mamaliga, because we'll have to eat sliced bread wrapped in plastic with a food safety stamp on it!"

Ciorba de perisoare: Soup with meatballs. The soup can be sour - made with fermented wheat bran, lemon juice, or the liquid from sauerkraut. It also contains vegetables such as carrot, parsnip and chopped tomatoes, and can be flavoured with celeriac, lovage and dill.

Mititei: Sausage-shaped hamburgers of minced beef with garlic and pepper, sometimes mixed with lamb or pork. They are fried in a pan and served with mustard. Legend has it that they were invented one night at an inn in Bucharest, after the kitchen ran out of casings for sausage.

The BBC.co.uk Food recipe contains paprika, cayenne pepper, thyme, marjoram and caraway seeds.

BULGARIA

Lyutenitsa : A relish of roasted red peppers, peeled and then finely minced. Other ingredients include tomato puree, onion, garlic, and some chilli peppers to make it slightly hot. That's where its name comes from - lyut means "hot". But lyutenitsa also has a sweet taste, because the type of long, thin pepper used is sweeter than some varieties. Sometimes aubergines - roasted, peeled and minced - are added.

Lyutenitsa is used mostly as a spread or dip, or for preparing starters, such as lyutenitsa with small pieces of feta cheese. Or it can be served as a relish or side dish with grilled meat.

Arguably, the best Bulgarian lyutenitsa is produced in the towns and villages in the Thracian plain around the city of Plovdiv, in southern Bulgaria. It is also eaten in Serbia and Macedonia.

Lukanka (Wikimedia)
Lukanka: Like salami, but spicier, and flatter
Lukanka: A salami-like sausage, but quite spicy. It is made of pork and veal (or pork and beef), minced and stuffed into dried cow's intestines. Then it is hung to dry for a long time and is usually pressed to make it flat.

It is spiced with ground black pepper, cumin and garlic and is usually eaten as a cold starter, chopped into fine slices, or as an accompaniment to rakia (a strong grape brandy similar to grappa) or wine.

Lukanka has different variations with different names. The best version is made in the small towns at the foot of the Balkan mountain range in central Bulgaria. Lukanka from the town of Karlovo - Karlovska lukanka - is particularly famous.

Banitsa: A dish made of filo pastry layered with crumbled feta cheese and beaten eggs. The best banitsa, "rolled banitsa", is made with thin rolls of pastry arranged in a spiral shape inside a pan. It is sold in bakeries and usually eaten with yoghurt.

A popular variation of this standard banitsa is made by replacing the cheese and egg mixture with grated pumpkin, ground walnuts, sugar and cinnamon. It is eaten in autumn when pumpkins are ripe, and called tikvenik, from tikva the Bulgarian for pumpkin. The word can also be used to refer to a fool.

Banitsa can also be made with nettles or leeks.






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