There are 44 countries in Europe and each has its own cuisine and popular dishes. What better way to explore a country than through its food? Street food is made with local ingredients and is full of the national character, whilst the small unpretentious restaurants where all the local people eat is definitely a sign that the food is authentic! The standard of gourmet food has definitely been raised throughout Europe in recent years and chefs in every country are showcasing their best national dishes.
Creamy cheese fondue made with Emmenthal and Gruyère that is perfect for dipping your bread in – but if you drop your bread, you are supposed to kiss everyone sharing the fondue! Fondue Bourguignonne is when guests fry strips of beef in fat and then dip them in a variety of sauces. In some places, you can find Chocolate fondue too!
Another great dish to watch out for is Rösti. This is made from coarsely grated potato that is mixed with onion and bacon, shaped into rounds and then fried – it tastes really great with a fried egg on top!
It is well known for its excellent sausages. Bratwurst has a really good taste and can be bought from street sellers served in a long bread roll with plenty of mild German mustard.
If you are a chocolate lover, you will really adore the taste of Belgian chocolate.
Vienna the capital of Austria is home to Sachertorte a delicious chocolate sponge with a thin layer of apricot jam in the middle and dark chocolate icing on the top and sides.
Another great Austrian sweet is Apple Strudel which is made from an incredibly thin piece of strudel pastry which is wrapped around a mixture of apple and raisins that have been sprinkled with cinnamon – it really is impossible to resist a slice!
Wiener Schnitzel is viewed by many as the national dish as it can be bought everywhere – from street stalls to the poshest restaurants! The schnitzel is a wafer-thin piece of veal, that has been coated in crumbs and pan-fried. It is usually served with fried potatoes, onions and sour cream.
Macarons are pretty meringue cakes that can be found in every patisserie and are irresistible in every flavor!
Nothing tastes better than a delicious slice of pizza served straight from the oven. With a thick coat of tomato paste, plenty of cheese and other toppings of your choice.
Churros are long strips of sweet fried dough that have been generously sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. Another popular Spanish dish is Paella which was originally made in Valencia and is a wonderful mixture of cooked rice, chicken, seafood and chorizo – Spanish sausage
Pastel de Nata is a favorite snack in Lisbon and is a small pastry tart filled with egg custard – buy double the number you think you will eat!
There are some really excellent traditional dishes to try including Cozido A Portuguesa which is a really filling casserole made from a mixture of beef, pork and chicken and loads of different vegetables. Caldo Verde is a really popular soup on cold days. It is made from potato, onion, and kale and served with a piece of linguica – the local sausage, which some chop into their soup.
Fish and chips is still a favorite dish with the fish coated and fried in batter and the chips, hand cut and double fried for crispness. Roast beef and Yorkshire Pudding is another great English classic.
In Yorkshire, it is a tradition to serve a large Yorkshire Pudding to enjoy before the meat first with a really delicious gravy. The English are well known for their puddings too which include fruit pies, crumbles, and terrific fruit trifles.
Scottish shortbread tastes amazingly good as it is so buttery and simply melts in your mouth. On St Andrew’s Day (Patron Saint of Scotland) it is the tradition to eat Haggis served with ‘neeps and tatties’- turnips and potatoes. Haggis is made from a mixture of minced lamb, onions, and oatmeal which traditionally is cooked in the animal’s stomach. It tastes particularly good if eaten to the sound of the bagpipes!
Bara Brith means ‘speckled bread’ and is in fact, delicious fruit cake made by soaking the fruit in cold tea.
Boxty (also known as a poundy) is a traditional potato pancake made with buttermilk that tastes great with a fried egg on top.
Goulash is a hearty stew made with meat and potatoes and flavored with paprika.
If you are feeling hungry, find a place that sells khinkali as these are delicious meat dumplings and are the national dish.
If you are in a hurry for something tasty, buy a souvlaki which is a pork kebab cooked over charcoal and served with salad in warmed pitta bread. Alternatively, Gyro is a similar ‘take away’ with the meat (usually chicken or pork) carved from a large spit roasted joint.
Another great Greek dish is Moussaka which is made by layering lambs mince, sliced aubergines, potatoes and courgettes (plus plenty of cinnamon) and covering the top with a thick creamy sauce that has been flavored with nutmeg.
Smørrebrød is a delicious open sandwich made from rye bread and topped with all types of meats, fish, cheese and spreads for toppings.
What better than some Köttbullar – these are tasty Swedish meatballs served in a creamy gravy.
Amongst the popular dishes found in Serbia is Ćevapćići. These are small beef or pork sausages that are served in a flatbread with onions, soured cream and ajvar – a pepper sauce. Pljeskavica is another good dish that is also made from beef or pork and is served with kajmak milk, ajvar, and urneber which is a very spicy sauce.
Bulgarian food is fresh and hearty. One of the most popular dishes is Shopska Salata which is red, white and green – the colors of the Bulgarian flag! The salad is made from diced tomatoes, cucumber, onion, peppers and is sprinkled with Sirene cheese and parsley. The soup Shkembe Chorba is known as ‘Dragon’s breath’ and quite rightly so as it is tripe soup with generous amounts of spice!
There are many good dishes to try in Slovenia, but one of the most popular is štruklji. These are really delicious baked dough rolls that are available with a myriad of different fillings – both sweet and savory. They all taste good, but the ones that are exceptionally tasty include tarragon, cottage cheese and the ones sprinkled with poppy seeds.
The national dish of Norway is Fårikål which is a hearty casserole made from lamb or mutton that is cooked slowly for many hours with cabbage and black pepper and served with jacket potatoes. There are many fish dishes to enjoy in Norway with pickled herrings and whale steaks being just two to try! Krumkake is delicious if you like sweet dishes. These are little biscuit cones that are filled with cream and jam.
One of the most famous Russian dishes is Borscht, a delicious cold beetroot soup that is garnished with a swirl of soured cream. Another one, which can now be enjoyed around the world is Beef Strogonoff – strips of beef served in a creamy sauce on a bed of rice or noodles.
Holubtsi is a delicious dish definitely to watch out for! It is made with cabbage leaves that are stuffed with minced beef and onions and these are braised in the oven.
Pierogi is the national dish of Poland – and rightly so! These are small semi-circular dumplings that are filled either with a savory filling such as cabbage, mushrooms, chopped meat or sauerkraut and served with onions or filled with different fruits and served with sour cream – both are hard to resist!
Bigos is a cabbage stew made with sauerkraut (pickled cabbage) and fresh cabbage with a variety of chopped meats and Polish sausage.
There are many tasty dishes to try in Romania including Sarmale. These cabbage rolls are made with minced pork and spices that are wrapped in sour cabbage leaves that are then boiled in a delicious sauce. Watch out for Mics too! These are minced beef and pork sausages the length of an adult finger that is mixed with garlic and spices. The Mics are grilled and served with fiery mustard!
A really popular dish is Hollandse Nieuwe – Dutch new herrings. These are the new season’s fish caught between May-July. They are served whole and eaten raw, accompanied by chopped raw onion and gherkins. If you prefer sweet things, you will love Stroopwafel. These are freshly baked waffles that are sliced in two horizontally and filled with a tasty sweet and very sticky sauce – the ‘stroop’.
The Czech Republic
There are certainly some great dishes to try including the delicious braised dish SviČková which is made from tender slices of beef which is cooked in a thick cream sauce with parsley roots and sliced carrots. It is usually served with cranberry sauce. Vepro Knedlo Zelo is Czech style roast pork, always served with dumplings and pickled cabbage. If you are a great garlic fan, watch out on the menus for CesneČka which is a strong garlic soup with small pieces of cheese and sausage too.
The national dish is said to be Judd Mat Gaardebounen which is made from pork cooked with broad beans. A popular snack that can be bought anywhere is Grompere Kichelcher – these delicious potato fritters taste really good topped with apple sauce.