Romanian Schnitzel (or Şniţel)

What can you say about a country where they don’t just lose their temper – their ‘mustard jumps off’?

Romania is a place where, when they make a mess of things they also ‘pick their noses and throw the product in their beans’.

When a Romanian lies to you, he ‘sells you doughnuts’.

You don’t just drive your Romanian friend round the bend – you also have to ‘take him out of his watermelons’.

People in Romania are not just nervous… they ‘have carrots up their arses’!

They don’t just remain silent… they keep ‘as quiet as the pig in the cornfield’.

Romania is a place where, if you are unsure of a particular term, you’re pretty safe just saying ‘varză’ or ‘cabbage’ – being ‘cabbage’ is to be exhausted; if your life is ‘cabbage’ it’s chaotic; and if you have just opened the door of your son’s room you can be pretty sure that it is ‘cabbage’ – an unholy mess.

Food features large in Romania.

So it’s no surprise that this recipe for pork (probably made from the quiet, corn-eating pig mentioned above) is just straşnic – ‘swell’ or ‘clinking’. It might well have come from Moldavia, in the North-east of Romania where the corn fields are still worked with a scythe. Romania is home to Europe’s largest Roma population (in spite of World War II atrocities) and in the village of Zece Prajini a splendid Roma brass band was formed – joyful, exuberant, inventive. Fanfare Ciocarlia is now well-known (they provide the soundtrack for Borat) but just as fresh. If you play the music at the bottom of this post while you cook, you won’t be able to help eating the results with a smile on your face.

Recipe for Romanian Schnitzel

Serves 4


  • 680g/1½ lbs pork tenderloin (minus the bone, fat and skin and sliced into eight thin slices. If you are buying from a butcher, get him to hammer it thin)
  • 90g/3 oz – 8 slices prosciutto
  • 200g/4 oz Gruyère cut into eight thin slices
  • Plain flour for dredging
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsps water
  • 4 tbsp panko breadcrumbs
  • smoked salt and Indonesian long pepper
  • vegetable oil and butter for frying


  1. If you haven’t got the butcher to thin the pork slices, then thin them yourself by putting cling film on either side and hammering with a meat hammer or rolling pin.
  2. Take each slice and season on both sides.
  3. Cover each slice with a slice of prosciutto and then a slice of Gruyère.
  4. Roll up – the pork should cover the prosciutto and cheese.
  5. Dredge each parcel with flour.
  6. Begin to heat the oil and butter in a big frying pan.
  7. Mix the egg and water together in a bowl, and put the breadcrumbs into another bowl.
  8. When the fat is good and hot (don’t let it burn) dip each parcel first into the egg, then the breadcrumbs and fry for about ten minutes – until deep golden.

Music to cook to

Fanfare Ciocarlia

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