Gypsy Food Is Hard to Pin Down

Is there a cuisine of the Gypsies, more properly known as Roma or Romani? ("Roma are one subset of the Romani people," says luckyfatima.)

"There are a couple of Gypsy cookbooks in print, but both have been criticized heavily for failing to enunciate a distinct Gypsy cuisine," says Perilagu Khan. "Is such an endeavor possible? ... Do we know of any dishes that have persisted among Gypsies down through the centuries and have been transported, almost without exception, to wherever Gypsies have put down roots?"

As part of their nomadic culture, Romani would have used locally available ingredients wherever they happened to be, rather than loyally purchased 'staples of any supposed Gypsy larder,'" says SusanaTheConqueress. "In other words, the cuisine of no cuisine of their own identity would be the identity of their cuisine."

This has implications for a certain preparation methods, though, at least. "Nomadic Roma have a style of cooking that is suited to nomadic life and is flexible and adaptable to the availability of a wide variety of ingredients," explains soupkitten. "Stews in which many different vegetables and/or meats and/or foraged herbs and mushrooms can be subbed in or out, bound by a black pepper or fried spice sauce would be one example."

"Being nomadic would probably mean having a totally different type of cuisine; I recall reading about things like roasted hedgehog and such—eating what was available for sustenance," says luckyfatima. "Since the vast majority of Roma are settled, the nomadic cuisine isn't necessarily relevant now."

Discuss: Is There a Gypsy (Roma) Cuisine?