Foodies will travel the world to experience masterfully created flavours. When visiting Europe, these 5 countries belong at the top of your list for must-try delicacies.
Spain has many wonderful regions with different specialty dishes. But if you have to focus on one area, though, make it Basque Country. You will find a lot of variety to satisfy all of your cravings.
Basque has earned a reputation for serving some of the best tapas in Spain. In this region, though, they usually serve tapas on bread with a spike through the ingredients so it all holds together. They call it pinxto, which takes its name from the word for “spike.” Expect to find pinxtos containing cured meats (such as chorizo, Serrano ham, and cecina), cod, stuffed peppers, and regional cheeses (Garrotxa, Manchego and Idiazabal to name a few).
Many people think of paella when they think of Spanish cuisine. This savory rice dish full of seafood is available throughout the country, but since Valencia is where the dish originated you can expect to find the best there.
Also, note that meal times in Spain are quite different than the norm in most countries. Mornings and early afternoon are spent consuming little more than coffee and toast. Lunch, called “la comida” is usually the main meal of the day starting around 2:00 pm (this explains why the Spanish need their famous siestas midday!). It’s common to have an evening snack, and then dinner time typically starts around 9:00 pm.
Via Le Monde
One could argue that excellent European cuisine began in France. The country’s chefs maintain a long tradition of technical skill and innovative flavors that should put it right at the top of your list. Some notable dishes include foie gras, bisque, duck confit, ratatouille, beef Bourguinon, and, of course, pommes frites (better known as French fries outside of France).
But where the French truly shine are their breads and sweets. You’ll be tempted by the amazing bakeries on every corner full of artisanal breads. Obviously you can’t go to France without eating plenty of croissants. In addition to sampling a variety of pastries during the day, be sure to save room after dinner. The French make some of the most sublime desserts in the world, including:
- Tarte tatin – an upside-down tart with apples
- Crepes Suzette – thin pancakes served with an orange sauce
- Pot de crème – a chocolate potted custard
- Crème brulee – a rich custard with a caramelized crust on top
If you find a really good restaurant (which is easy considering that Paris alone has about 100 Michelin-rated restaurants), then a sommelier can pair your dessert with the perfect wine. It doesn’t get any more decadent (and French!) than that.
Turkey’s unique history and geography resulted in a cuisine fusing Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Balkan influences. Expect dishes carefully built around grilled meats, dates, pistachios, lentils, and eggplant.
Keep in mind Turkish cuisine can vary significantly depending on where you travel. The region near the Black Sea, for instance, uses a local anchovy that offers a distinctive flavor. In the southeast, you will find a lot of meat kebabs. For the areas around the Mediterranean, expect exceptional seafood and fresh vegetables. No matter where you go, though, you will find homemade recipes that have been in families for generations.
If you’ve recently been in other parts of Europe when you visit Turkey, you will immediately notice that Turkish cooks use spices more sparingly than those in other countries. As a foodie, you need to experience how wonderful this simplicity can taste. It will show you that amazing food doesn’t necessarily need a complex recipe.
Via Sara’s Kitchen
Loosen your belt, because meals in Italy usually involve 3 to 4 courses. Meals start with the “primo,” or first course of pasta. Next comes the “secondo,” or second course of fish or meat. The “contorno,” or side dish, is usually a vegetable of salad. “Dolce” will end the meal on the sweet note. You can also expect meals to last longer than usual, as the Italians enjoy taking their time and enjoying their company over a long meal.
While Italy and France are both revered for their cuisine, you’ll notice a marked difference in preparation. While French dishes focus on using technical skill to coax ingredients to be the best they can be, Italian dishes are about using the absolute freshest ingredients and keeping preparation simple.
You probably think of pasta when you think of Italy. You can certainly find plenty of pasta dishes throughout Italy, but the country really excels when it comes to seafood. Only Alaska cruise excursions could give you access to fresher seafood.
Some dishes to look for include:
- Cappon magro – a large seafood salad with a thick sauce
- Acqua pazza – poached white fish
- Cacciucco – a fish stew
- Scampi – term for seafood prepared with garlic and butter
To really get a thrill, visit an open-air market in the morning. You will see gigantic fish that still have their heads attached. Don’t let this have a bad effect on your afternoon meal. In Italy, every part of the fish gets used to make some of the most delicious soups and sauces you will ever taste.
Germany’s epicurean fame typically comes from its commitment to excellent beers and processed meats. It has that reputation for some very good reasons. In fact, breweries around the world still use the Bavarian Purity Law from 1487 to make high-quality drinks with only the most essential ingredients.
When you venture into Germany, expect to find plenty of meat dishes, including those made of lamb, goat, duck, turkey, pork and beef. You’ll swear that you can live off sausage alone once you’ve toured through Germany.
Europe has diverse cuisine that not only varies from country to country, but city to city. For the true epicurean, every European destination lies somewhere on the list of must-visit places.