Given the crisis that’s currently unfolding, you could be forgiven for thinking that life in Europe will never be the same. And perhaps it won’t be. What’s unlikely to change, however, is the cuisine. Europe is home to some distinctive and amazing dishes, some honed over centuries. They’ve weathered all kinds of events, from world wars to pandemics, and they will still be around long after the current crisis is over.
Here, we’ll run through some of the major countries and their best dishes. Whether you’re planning a stop in just one nation, a road trip through all of them, or a few cycling trips in Europe, it’s worth taking advantage of each of them.
When it comes to culinary exports, Italy is among the most successful nations in Europe. Spaghetti and Pizza have spread to all four corners of the globe, but in order to sample the best versions, you’ll need to come to the country itself.
Pretzels in many non-German nations tend to be either tiny little pseudo-crisp things that come in packets, or massive and bland things that are sold en-masse at Christmas markets. Go to Germany itself and sample the real thing! Other honorable mentions in Germany include bratwurst and sauerkraut.
While there are quite a few places in Europe where you’ll be able to sample a decent apple strudel, Austria probably makes the best of them. Sweet, simple, and delicious, they’re a must-buy if you’re in the country.
In the Netherlands we enjoy a range of distinctive dishes, including many which originate in the surrounding nations. One thing we can say is very Dutch, is the classic stroopwafel. These backed discs of caramel yumminess are available at just about every market in the Netherlands. Read our Dutch food bucket list with more than 30 foods from the Netherlands that you should try when you visit our beautiful country!
You know that you’re sampling an unusual food when it’s entirely black. That’s because black is a rare colour, in nature. In Croatia, a popular form of risotto is black, because it’s been coloured with squid ink. It’s an interesting flavour, but not an especially strong one – the chances are good that if you like seafood, you’ll like this, too.
You might not think that a sandwich is especially exotic, but smørrebrød is a bit unusual. It’s an open-faced sandwich, usually made from rye-bread, and topped with a range of cold meats and smoked fish. Really worth a try in Denmark! These are a staple food in Scandinavia, and they’re just as flexible as a closed sandwich (though not quite as practical to eat).
While neighbouring Spain might have gazpacho and paella, Portugal isn’t quite so famous for its culinary output. Go there, however, and you’ll be amazed at the gastro-diversity on offer. Among the tastiest treats are pastéis de nata. These tiny little custard tarts are to be found in every bakery in the nation, so be sure to sample a few during your travels.
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