By: The PH Team
Gagauzia: Moldova's Autonomous Region
Gagauzia is the least-visited region in Europe's least-visited country. For decades, locals have made it a priority to protect their language, culture and cuisine from outside influences and extinction.
The region was once an unrecognized country like neighbouring Transnistria, however opted to enter into negotiations with Moldova, ultimately leading into its reintegration into the country as an autonomous region.
The autonomous region is way off-the-beaten-path for most international travellers - even adventurous ones. For a period of time, the Gagauz language was recognized as an endangered language by UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger.
Food in Gagauzia
Gagauz cuisine refers to the cuisine of the Gagauz people. The Gagauz people predominantly inhabit the region of Gagauzia in Moldova. Their language, as well as their ethnicity is of Turkic origins.
Their cuisine and culinary practices are a remnant of their close historical ties to both Turkic and Slavic peoples.
Gagauz cuisine has an emphasis on dairy products and meats, which can be traced to the Gagauz's nomadic past, while the importance of grains as a staple food reflects their current farming lifestyle.
The Gagauz people historically use a unique method of processing milk and preserving meat, curds, and sheep milk cheese in animal skins. Much of local cooking is still largely prepared in traditional ways. Gagauz meat dishes are often accompanied by pepper sauces.
Pies are also common in Gagauz cuisine, with popular variants being layered pies stuffed with sheep's milk cheese, pies with crumbled pumpkin, and sweet pies made from the first milk of a cow.
Red wine is a big part of local Gagauz culture and is served with most meals.
Holidays in Gagauzia
Many family holidays and rituals are connected with the baking of bread, wheat loaves ('kalaches'), and unleavened flatcakes.
The Gagauz holiday table is abundant with food and wine. You will find many local delicacies on the holiday table such as; specialty meats and cheeses, baked goods, snacks made from sweet peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, nuts and more.