|Alternative names||Mititei or mici|
|Region or state||Romania|
|Main ingredients||Lamb, pork, beef, coriander, onion, garlic, black pepper, thyme, sodium bicarbonate|
Mititei or mici (both Romanian words meaning "little ones", "small ones") is a dish from the Romanian cuisine, consisting of grilled ground meat rolls in cylindrical shape made from a mixture of beef, lamb with spices, such as garlic (minced), black pepper, thyme, coriander, anise, savory, and sometimes a touch of paprika. Sodium bicarbonate and broth or water are also added to the mixture. It is similar to ćevapi and other ground meat based dishes throughout the Balkans and Middle East.
A popular story claims that the mici were invented in the late 19th century by one Iordache Ionescu, a cook working in one of the many busy pubs in the Lipscani district of Bucharest, named "La o idee" (roughly "The Idea"). According to the legend, Ionescu was famous for his fresh sausages, but during a particularly busy day he ran out of casing and the idea of placing only the filling of the sausage on the grill came to him. The improvised new dish proved an instant hit and their popularity continued to grow ever since. The famous nearby restaurant Caru' cu Bere is also sometimes given as the birthplace of the mici.
Regardless, the dish is first mentioned in 1870 by French-Romanian journalist Ulysse de Marsillac, and around 1872 they get their name from writer and humorist N. T. Orășanu, who writes about eating them in Ionescu's pub. Similar varieties of skinless sausages appear in contemporary cooking books by Ecaterina Steriady (1871) and J.C. Hințescu (1877).
Throughout the years, the recipe lost some of the original ingredients, such as caraway seeds and allspice, and began being made with pork, rather than beef and lamb. Sodium bicarbonate, a raising agent, is also commonly added to the modern Romanian recipe, which improves both the flavor and the texture.
Cultural and economic significance
Mici are very popular all across Romania, with an estimated 440 million mici consumed each year in Romania. They are eaten in homes, restaurants and pubs, but are probably most associated with outdoor grilling. As many Romanians celebrate International Workers' Day (1 May) by going to barbecues and picnics, mici have become strongly associated with the holiday in recent years, 30 million mititei being eaten in Romania on the first day of May in 2019. Mici are sometimes called the "national dish of Romania" in the media, despite lacking any such official designation.
- Ćevapi, a Balkan dish
- Dry meatballs
- Chiftele - another Romanian dish
- Pârjoale - another Romanian dish
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- Minea, Sorin (14 May 2013). "Scandalul micilor: Rețeta e a noastră sau provine din Turcia?". DC News. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
- Lazăr, Simona (29 April 2017). "Mititei (rețeta din 1872 – varianta "nașului" N.T. Orășanu)". Gastroart.ro. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
- Pantazi, Raluca (7 May 2013). "Marea dezbatere despre micul romanesc: cu bicarbonat sau fara. Ce spun oficialii europeni, guvernul si producatorii romani". hotnews.ro. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
- "Minivacanța de 1 Mai - românii vor pune pe grătar 30 de milioane de mici / Sunt preferați micii din carne de porc şi vită". Hotnews.ro. 29 April 2019. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
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