Where from to Get Delicious Food in Romania? The Peasant’s Market, of Course!

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I grew up eating real food: real fruits and vegetables that were grown on real land farms and orchards in Romania. They were not huge, they didn’t look like clones of the same product, they sometimes had hit marks, they would spoil quickly, but they were delicious. Amazingly delicious, nothing like anything you can get in a supermarket. And they were fresh!

Although supermarkets in Romania are gaining more and more ground and it’s a lot easier to get your fruits and vegetables from the supermarkets while shopping, each Romanian city and town still has at least one running Peasant’s Market where you can buy locally grown, delicious, sometimes as close to organic as possible fruits and vegetables, as well as home made white cheese, real milk (non-pasteurized), eggs that have an healthy looking and delicious orange yolk and home made pickles. That is where we get our food from, especially during the season, and that’s where you should get your food from if you visit Romania or relocate here.

romanian peasants market 01

A peasant’s market (known in Romania as piata) is open daily, unlike Peasant’s Markets in other European cities. However, the number of real peasants selling home-grown stuff is getting lower and lower and you can still risk to get imported fruits and vegetables. But if you decide to give it a try, you will most likely have 100% success rate in getting the real deal if you pay attention to two details:

1. The looks of the seller: our peasants have specific clothing and you can easily see, especially on their hands, that they indeed work the ground and live at the countryside. If you just get there, you will spot them easily.

2. But most importantly – because some even hire real peasants for authenticity – look at the fruits and vegetables that you purchase: if they look like stuff you could get from a supermarket, then they probably are exactly that. Real fruits and vegetables don’t have perfect shapes, they are smaller and they have sun burns or other marks that make them imperfect but insanely delicious. That’s the food that you should get and you will love the taste!

This is how a Romanian Peasant's Market usually looks like
This is how a Romanian Peasant’s Market usually looks like

If you live in a Romanian city for a longer period of time, you will learn that some peasant’s markets are better than others and that there are indeed specific days when you’ll get the chance to buy from real peasants. Simply ask around or visit daily for a week and you’ll spot the trends. Also have in mind that most real peasants are people who put great value on religion, so don’t expect to see them in the markets if there’s a holiday!

The prices of the products are also good, even though sometimes they are more expensive than supermarket goods. But you get home grown stuff which at least should be healthier – so it’s worth any extra leu. Plus, the differences are not that great and they are still very affordable.

This fall, for example, we decided to give it a go and try to can our own food, pickle some cucumbers and so on. We just did a few jars of this, a few jars of that to see how it goes, but we loved it and even though we did spend an entire day canning food or preparing vegetables for the freezers (yes, we eat a lot of soup especially during the winter!) it was well worth it. The latest (and probably last thing this year) that we did was a pepper paste: we have three and a half jars of the delicious thing and the peppers only cost us 8 lei (which would be about 2 Euros). That’s better than any price you’d get in any store and they will surely be put to good use. And they will surely not last much since we’ve already devoured the half-jar.

romanian peasants market 03
Cheap yum yum ๐Ÿ™‚

All the products that we bought were from the Peasant’s Market where you usually start getting discounts and free treats if you become a regular or buy large quantities. Not only that you’re helping real Romanian farmers, but you’re also tasting real Romanian goods which are delicious and cheap.

There would be a small potential problem: most likely, none of the real peasants here will speak any English (or any other foreign language), but it’s not difficult to just show them the products you want and see the price on the scale. Then get some more because you’ll consider them so incredibly cheap!

14 COMMENTS

  1. It does look yummy and delicious . I have to say that is something l love about Spain and Malta before it..being able to get fresh fruit and veggies. Cherry season is over, but the local stand had the most delicious ones, as well as peaches, apples..just a couple of weeks ago, we got the most delicious cherry tomatoes, absolutely the best l have ever eaten . You’re right about the fresh eggs, we pay โ‚ฌ2 for a tray of 20, and they don’t need refrigeration..She also never charges us for parsley :-). I love fresh stuff. I did not know what l was missing in the U.S!!

    • This is what I missed the most during my one month trip in Europe – I wasn’t able to find the peasant markets in most cities we visited and bought the stuff from supermarkets and they weren’t great… Cherry tomatoes are not normally grown here, but hopefully soon they’ll manage to have them on offer too because I love them ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Hi-de-ho, Calin:
    Looks lipsmacking good! Are pesticides used on the peasant farms? If not, the produce is probably a great bargain! Here in the States, there’s a very high premium for fruits and veggies grown organically–naturally w/o pesticides and other unnatural additives. (Sometimes, I wonder if it’s just a scam to tack on extra $ for the seller and grower. There are even “organic” clothing, futon mattresses, and other nonsense–that’s just too crazy! Food, “organic,” okay, but non-edibles–who really cares if they’re organic;-) I DON’T think this is so in Romania. You seem to be a very honest country–what you see is what you get, as it were.
    So, are you nabbing the fruits from your trees in your country home before the neighbors make off with them. Jams and jellies would be nice homemade, yes?
    I read somewhere there are not very many canned soup options in Romania. Here, Campbell’s soups (though very sodium-laden) come in so many varieties. I am a fan of the “Chunky’ soups. Basically, they’re a full meal in a can.
    So, have you noticed a change in the climate which may impact the growing seasons? I know Poland is in a severe drought. I’m in one, too, out here on the West Coast. It’s a really wonky planet, nowadays, sadly.
    Great pictures! The lady in the first picture certainly has strong hands. She’s the real deal, for sure–not an actor posing as a peasant farmer;-)
    Best,
    ~Teil

    • Hello Teil,

      Unfortunately, the Romanian sellers have learned not to be honest, so you can’t really tell. Most will say that they’re not using fertilizers, so will say that they’re not using pesticides either, but you can’t really know. For fertilizers, it’s easy to test: if the apple weights 1 kilo, then there’s certainly something fishy about it ๐Ÿ™‚

      We didn’t get a large amount of fruit from our country home: we only have sour cherries and apricot trees, but the apricot trees are young and small and we only got a handful of fruits. So no jam for us this year. We had serious drought problems this year and I personally notice a climate change – despite the drought, things seem to get a bit colder – although we had a couple of days ago temperatures of 39 degrees celsius in the country, very high for this time of the year. But at least the seasons are changing and stuff’s not happening when it should.

      We have a wide variety of soups here, based on my standards. Many of them can be actually considered pretty healthy and without nasty ingredients (although it’s true that some have a high volume of salt added). I googled the Chunky soup and it does look more like a main dish, indeed: our soups have a bit more liquid, but maybe one could consider eating a full can a whole meal. Usually, I split a can with my wife and have second course too – but I am sure she could eat nothing but soup as a meal. I don’t think I could, ha!

  3. Hi Calin

    I read your Romanian experiences with interest, some surprise and always much fun.

    I left Romania 30 years ago, love my new country, but as the time went a nostalgia started to call and we come back for visits. My family had an obsession with good food, i. e. right from the farm, so we grew up with salads, fruits, milk, cheese, chickens, you name it.

    In North America, I go to the Farmers Market, which are on a rotating basis, once a week, in different areas of the city. In my neighborhood is on Thursday , 7:00-!4:00, May to October only, naturally since nothing grows in the fields November to May, in our frigid Canadian winters.

    So, the rest of the year is Supermarket, but we keep eating fruits and vegetables daily and a lot of them. Prices are higher, much higher, but so are the incomes.

    Yes, when back to Romania, we never buy stuff from other countries, and walk around at the market/piata looking for the real peasants, fewer and fewer, fortunately we spot them and their wares.

    Beside family, friends, places, memories and a condo, we come back for the delicious Romanian food, so healthy, beautiful, tasty.

    I’d like to say though that traveling a lot, I hold the French Markets at the top of all markets we visited and shopped at, which were very many. French followed by Italian, unbelievable high quality and variety, prettiness too. Easy to understand how come, but that’s another story.

    Thank you for writing about your family experiences, it makes for a lovely reading.

  4. I don’t get to visit the peasants’ market too often (well, I don’t get to visit anything too often with a toddler by my side 24/7), but husband does purchase stuff from there and so does mother in law. The prices are OK and the produce, if you are careful, is absolutely amazing. There are people who sell the same junk we can purchase in the supermarkets, but there are also many who sell the ‘real deal’, veggies and fruits that actually taste good.

    • Exactly, the markets are starting to get flooded by supermarket products, but you can still find real things relatively easy. I also saw that in Bucharest’s markets it’s more difficult to find real peasants than compared to my home town.

  5. This thread is making me hungry! In reference to your post about your hometown would such a size city be much more likely to have the really good produce as opposed to the bigger sized cities? Are there certain areas of the country more known for their produce than others? We were looking at Nicaragua which has excellent produce grown all year, no winter there. But bugs are bad in the tropics and they use pesticides. Having access to great produce along with great internet makes Romania an easy choice for retirement.

    • You can’t get the climate of Nicaragua here, and peasants still use pesticides and fertilizers (or at least some) to a certain degree. I think it is indeed a bit easier to find better produce in the smaller cities simply because the larger ones approach it as an industry and there are many individuals who purchase supermarket products and sell them in the “peasant” markets, while the real villages are too far away from the big cities. My home city is surrounded by small villages and people come here to sell their stuff. Even driving through the villages can get you good produce as people simply sell them outside of their homes, near the road.

  6. Can not agree more that the markets are way better to get produce and other thing from than supermarket. Need to work on a members only club to keep the “real” peasants from “knock off impostor wannabe peasants” and here is why..

    Impostors are all about the money and tricking you into to parting with yours for less. They will use cheap pesticides labor and genetically enhanced seeds etc. Anything to improve output per dollar. You do not want to know how these Wannabe companies/people increase chicken meat and egg output. If you did you would quit eating it. I have to choke it down here in the United States if i do think of it. So big city mass out put markets are to be avoided.

    PAY THE EXTRA why? You are supporting good people and their practices off looking after you, nature, animals and their gardening first. When they are producing stuff for you they are thinking of natural good and healthy things. They need the money… but they want to do it right. AND I AM MORE THAN WILLING TO PAY FOR THAT WAY OF LIFE!.

    So do not save you special canned jars of goodies. Eat them fast and enjoy life. Buy more encouraging and supporting this much better way off life. Can smell/taste that pepper paste from here.

  7. Finding the healthy food became a problem even in Romania. One can’t find peasants at the peasant markets anymore. Even if the name remains the same “peasant markets”, you can only find merchants selling import stuff. I would recommend “tฤƒrguri”, which are like organized markets. A tฤƒrg is held one day a week (usually Sunday morning) in an established area of a city.

    • That is partly true – it is more and more difficult to find real peasants selling products in peasant markets in Romania, but it’s still doable. With a bit of training and especially during the summer months, you can spot them.

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