Britain’s ambassador cooks up a pot of sarmale to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday

Inquam Photos / Virgil Simonescu

Sarmale is Romania’s national dish and Britain’s ambassador cooked a big pot of them to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday.

Andrew Noble shared a video of him on Wednesday preparing and cooking the sarmale from scratch on the British Embassy’s Facebook page.

The cooking session came after Romania’s ambassador to Britain, Dan Mihalache, challenged Noble to cook a Romanian dish.

The queen’s actual birthday is on April 21, while her official birthday is a moveable feast, celebrated in June, this year on June 13. The embassy normally hosts a reception, but the coronavirus pandemic means that large public gatherings have been banned.

Ambasadorul Marii Britanii gătește sarmale

Ambasadorul Marii Britanii în România Andrew Noble marchează ziua de naștere a Reginei Elisabeta a II-a prin prepararea de sarmale. Inițiativa vine după ce Andrew Noble a fost provocat de Ambasadorul României în Marea Britanie Dan Mihalache să gătească un preparat românesc pe canalul celor de la The Hairy Bikers.#FoodIsGREAT

Publicată de British Embassy Bucharest pe Marţi, 9 iunie 2020


The British ambassador said he specially chose sarmale, a mixture of rice and minced pork and beef meat rolled in cabbage leaves, which he calls his “favorite Romanian dish.”

Elizabeth’s son Prince Charles who visits Romania every year has likely eaten sarmale many times, but it’s unclear whether the British monarch has tasted the dish.

“This is a dish I first encountered when I came to communist Romania in 1983. And then, you didn’t get it very often. Now, throughout Transylvania, throughout the rest of the country, you can find this in every restaurant, and it’s really popular,” the ambassador says listing the ingredients for the recipe.

Sarmale_ stuffed cabbage or vine leaves_ are eaten in Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Bosnia-Herzegovina and elsewhere.

Once the sarmale are cooked after three hours in a 100 Celsius oven, the ambassador takes them out and puts a couple in a traditional Romanian bowl, adding a dollop of thick crème fraiche or sour cream. .

He says they go well with sour cream and polenta, known as mamaliga in Romanian, and a “good Romanian white wine, or a red wine if you prefer it, or just beer.”

“As I said: so good, they could come from Yorkshire!” Noble, a Yorkshireman, says after taking a bite.


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