Over recorded history, it’s fair to say that Europe has produced a great deal of culture – some of it great, some of it not-so-great. It’s arguably in the food we all eat that we find the fullest expression of European culture. You don’t really understand a culture until you travel to their part of the world and sample their cuisine. In Europe, many of the most famous dishes have been exported far beyond the borders of their homelands. But those original, authentic dishes still hold an appeal that can’t be replicated.
If you want to go on a few real-world tours of Europe, then the dining experience should form a big part of your trip. Let’s take a look through some of the more famous dishes available.
‘Neopolitan’ is a word you might readily associate with ice cream. But the city of Naples is most famous for its quality pizza. A slab of flatbread overlain with passata and mozzarella, roasted to perfection in a blistering-hot oven and then garnished with basil. What could be better?
Of course, pizza is tremendously versatile. But then so too are Italy’s pasta dishes. While the pasta itself is an import from outside of Italy, there can be no doubt that the Italians perfected it. Spagetti, taglietelle, bigoli, lasagne – they all have their uses.
If you’re going to be travelling to the Netherlands, then several dishes stand out as worthy of sampling. For example ‘bitterballen’ is a much loved snack in cafes and bars. They’re made using a combination of beef and flour, surrounded by a coating of crunchy breadcrumbs. Also worth sampling are the popular stroopwafels, which are a unique variety of soft biscuit. Of course, one of the more famous dishes from this part of the world is the smoked herring – they tend to be enjoyed in isolation, but you can also get them as part of more adventurous dishes.
If you’re going to be sampling Spanish food, it’s difficult to look beyond the paella. A slowly-simmered dishful of shellfish, tomato and starchy rice, it’s a must-taste. This goes especially if you like coastal flavours. But beware – the Spanish are quite particular about what should go into their national dish.
What are the UK’s greatest contributions to global gastronomy. We might point to something simple like the Fish and Chips. Other countries certainly eat fish, and they certainly eat chips, and they might even enjoy them on the same plate. But no-one does fish and chips quite like the British.
When you think of unique French foodstuffs, you might think of particular cheeses and wine combinations. But escargot, or snails, is probably the most uniquely gallic dish there is. Snails are said by some to taste a little bit like an earthier version of fish, or chicken.
Whatever your culinary preference it’s worth sampling the local cuisine and you never know, you might be replicating the dish in your kitchen once home.