Food in Romania – Halva

This morning, for my breakfast, I’m eating some halva (pronounced hall-VAH). It may not be the most traditional breakfast item but hey, it’s quite tasty.

But what is it?

The food comes via the long history of Turkish influence in the region and the name itself comes from an Arabic root meaning “something sweet to eat”. And it is a kind of dessert but it isn’t very sweet at all.

In Romania it is called halva de floarea soarelui literally meaning “halva made from sunflowers because it is a pressed “brick” of crushed up sunflower seeds held together with a glucose syrup. If you look at it on your plate, it looks like a dismal, grey brick and very unappetizing. I know my friend had to really work to convince me to take a bite of it but in the end, I’m glad he did, because it is quite delicious.

In Romania you can also find two variants of ordinary halva, one with a kind of sickeningly sweet vanilla flavoring added (rendering it much whiter) and another with an equally sweet chocolate flavoring (and dark brown in color). Both of these variants are far, far sweeter and more “dessert” like than regular halva.

If you’ve never tried it before, don’t miss out on this tasty treat!


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