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Mititei/Mici (Romanian dish)
Mititei aufm Grill.jpg
Mititei on the grill.
Alternative namesMititei/Mici
CourseMain course
Region or stateRomania
Serving temperatureHot
Main ingredientsLamb, 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 Romanian cuisine, consisting of grilled ground meat rolls in cylindrical shape made from a mixture of beef, lamb and pork with spices, such as garlic, 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.

It is often served with french fries, mustard and murături (green pickled vegetables).


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").[1] 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.[2] The famous nearby restaurant Caru' cu Bere is also sometimes given as the birthplace of the mici.[3]

Regardless, they 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.[4] Similar varieties of skinless sausages appear in contemporary cooking books by Ecaterina Steriady (1871) and J.C. Hințescu (1877).[5][6]

According to some experts, Iordache Ionescu can only claim to have popularized mici, which are very likely a local variant of the Turkish kebab, which arrived three to four centuries ago to the Danubian Principalities and was slowly adapted to the Romanian cuisine. 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.[2][7][8] Sodium bicarbonate, a raising agent, is also commonly added to the modern Romanian recipe, which improves both the flavor and the texture.[9]

Cultural and economic significance[edit]

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.[10] Mici are sometimes called the "national dish of Romania" in the media, despite lacking any such official designation.[11]

In 2018, between 5% and 10% of all the mici produced in Romania were exported, mainly to countries with large Romanian diasporas, such as Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.[10]

European Union regulations[edit]

In 2013, with new European Union regulations regarding food additives coming to effect, there was a fear that mici producers will be forced to stop using sodium bicarbonate (E500) an important part of the recipe. Romanian authorities appealed to receive a derogation from the ban, claiming mici as a traditional product.[7][12] According to producers, removing the bicarbonate sodium from mici would leave the dish unrecognizable, nothing more than a meatball.[13]

In 2013 and 2014, the EU voted to postpone the ban of E500 in mici, but without a definitive decision on the matter, the fate of traditional mici remains uncertain.[14][15]


  1. ^ Marola, Eugen (29 March 2019). "Locul în care s-a născut gloriosul mic românesc: cârciuma lui Iordache Ionescu de pe Covaci no.3". Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  2. ^ a b Corespondenţi „Adevărul” (14 June 2013). "Povestea micului românesc: cum a ajuns o greşeală culinară dezbatere europeană. Unde se găsesc cei mai buni mici din ţară". Adevărul. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  3. ^ "Reţeta originală de mici – cum se făceau mititeii acum 100 de ani!". Libertatea. 3 June 2019. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  4. ^ Bădescu, Emanuel (17 February 2012). "Restaurantul lui Iordache Ionescu". Ziarul Financiar. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  5. ^ Lazăr, Simona (19 June 2017). "Cârnăței pentru garnitură (1871 – Ecaterina Steriady (colonelu))". Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  6. ^ Lazăr, Simona (19 June 2017). "Cărnăței fără mațe (J.C. Hințescu – cca 1877)". Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  7. ^ a b Minea, Sorin (14 May 2013). "Scandalul micilor: Rețeta e a noastră sau provine din Turcia?". DC News. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  8. ^ Lazăr, Simona (29 April 2017). "Mititei (rețeta din 1872 – varianta „nașului" N.T. Orășanu)". Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  9. ^ Pantazi, Raluca (7 May 2013). "Marea dezbatere despre micul romanesc: cu bicarbonat sau fara. Ce spun oficialii europeni, guvernul si producatorii romani". Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  10. ^ a b "Minivacanța de 1 Mai - românii vor pune pe grătar 30 de milioane de mici / Sunt preferați micii din carne de porc şi vită". 29 April 2019. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  11. ^ "Romanian mici sausage reportedly gets reprieve after EU agrees it can have bicarbonate of soda". Fox News. 17 February 2014. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  12. ^ Stroe, Daniel (3 June 2013). "Romania scrambles to keep traditional food after new EU directive". Independent Balkan News Agency. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  13. ^ "Mici fără bicarbonat de sodiu = chiftele. O directivă europeană ar putea elimina praful alb, nelipsit din bucătăriile care se respectă, din compoziţia micilor procesaţi la nivel industrial, deşi acesta nu dăunează sănătăţii. Producătorii români îşi asumă vina pentru această scăpare şi spun că reţeta micului, care datează din 1902, va putea fi respectată dacă se va face o derogare europeană în acest sens". Digi24. 1 June 2013. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  14. ^ AP (17 February 2014). "Romanian sausage to be saved under new EU rules". USA Today. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  15. ^ Romania Insider (21 February 2014). "Romanian mici still have uncertain fate as the EU postpones decision on approved list of traditional food ingredients". Romania Insider. Retrieved 2 August 2019.

See also[edit]