The Origins of (Not-Entirely) Romanian Sibiu Salami

Sibiu salami, a trademark of Romanian cuisine, is not even made in Sibiu. In fact, it wasn’t even invented by a Romanian. How did this internationally-appreciated aliment gain popularity, and where did the name actually come from?

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thinly sliced salami on a wooden cuttingboard
The story of the internationally famous Sibiu Salami is not as straightforward as one might think. Photo: beats_ / stock.adobe.com

If you’ve ever tried Sibiu salami, we know the story: love at first bite. No need to be embarrassed by the truth; people all over the world, even Royals, sympathize with you on this matter. Romanian Sibiu salami is simply that good. Too bad its creator was not Romanian, nor is it made in Sibiu.

Sibiu salami, since 1911

It was the winter of 1911 when the very first salami sticks were made. In a freshly inaugurated factory, up in the mountainous region of Sinaia, the skilled hands of Italian Filippo Dozzi created what was to become Romania’s most appreciated meat. Little did he know, back then, that this side job, nurtured from a passion for meat, would forever change the course of his life – and Romanian cuisine.

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Filippo Dozzi was, by no means, a butcher. Nor was he a chef. He was a simple mason hired to work in the stone quarry in Piatra Arsă. He emigrated from Italy, but not empty-handed. He carried with him the passion and knowledge of the meat industry, and his skilled eye saw exactly what was needed to produce deluxe meats in Sinaia: low and constant temperatures.

Given the weather specifications required to make the salami, the name of the finished good was, initially, Winter Salami. But Filippo’s invention was such a resounding success that people from all over the country and even outside its borders went crazy for the product. People ordered dozens of kilograms of the salami, placing orders many months in advance. It went far beyond what anyone could have anticipated at the beginning of the decade. In fact, this unexpected popularity granted the product the name it has today.

From Sinaia to Sibiu

One could say the story behind the name of the salami is a fortunate coincidence. How could such a respected and highly-demanded product made in Sinaia get the name Sibiu? Just for reference, the two are located over 200 kilometers apart from each other. And technically, the salami had nothing to do with Sibiu. Not until it became popular, at least.

You may assume the resulting label must be a typo of some sort. The two regions do sort of sound similar; they even share some letters. And while the reason does have to do with human error, it is not the result of a typo.

You see, people were going crazy for this salami. It was renowned for its quality, deluxe meat that had to be present at the fanciest meals. But they didn’t know or care to know much about the product. However, the one thing they were sure of was that it had the tag Sibiu on it. Casually, it must have been the name. Little did they know, it was, in fact, the customs office stamp. Filippo may have named it Winter Salami. But when people started asking for Sibiu Salami, there wasn’t much one could do. Who cares about a name anyway, as long as the product is – highly – profitable?

In a matter of years, people from inside the country started referring to it as Sibiu salami, even the Royal House. There was no going back now. This salami, invented by an Italian in the Sinaia region, was to be forever called Sibiu Salami.

Naomi Gherman

Master student in Cultural Diplomacy and International Relations at Babeș-Bolyai University, eager to share more about our world's most fascinating stories and people. Romania-based reader, writer and content creator with a strong interest in journalism, foreign languages and politics.

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