For many Americans, as well as people from other countries around the world, a trip through Europe is a bucket list item – something to accomplish or experience during your life.
For some travelers it is a gap-year experience, for others a way to interact and understand other cultures, and for some it’s an escape and opportunity to just enjoy life during a vacation. Traveling through Europe is right up there with finding the perfect job, finding your dream engagement ring and having the perfect wedding, to retiring on a gorgeous beach one day, a European exploration is a very popular inclusion on people’s bucket lists.
The fact is, Europe offers a vacation experience so dynamic and interesting that it is unlike anything else in the world. This is because so many beautiful countries with unique and independent cultures are packed into a relatively compact area, allowing visitors the opportunity to see a great deal in a short vacation.
Much like the variations in engagement rings, no two trips are alike! And whether you are doing a 14-day a-different-country-every-day kind of trip, or have the luxury of 3 months where you can begin to understand the characteristics of people and culture, there is something in Europe for everyone. Much like if you did that ring shopping at 77 Diamonds, where there are choices for every style and taste and budget.
Speaking of taste…among the different cultural appeals of various European countries, one aspect that stands out to many travellers is food. All over Europe, different countries are famous for different cuisines and delicacies, and one of the most enjoyable parts of any European vacation can be sampling these different food options. Here is a quick guide to some can’t-miss specialties and delicacies throughout Europe.
Arguably the most renowned country in the world for cuisine, France is perhaps most noteworthy for its café foods. Think baguette, onion soup, coffee, chocolates and cheeses. These are all simple ingredients and dishes anywhere else in the world – but in France, they are truly spectacular. (P.S. Here is a great recipe for French onion soup from Christopher Cina.)
Known for hearty meals and well-prepared meats, German cuisine is actually a foundation for many American favourites. It’s not all about beer and sausage – Germany is also known for hamburgers, deviled eggs, and schnitzel – essentially, breaded veal or beef cutlets topped with peppers.
More than any one delicacy, the Spanish are known for their style of eating. Many people in Spain indulge in small snacks and mini-meals (often referred to as tapas or pintxos) throughout the day. Within these snacks, however, there are some very unique and delicious dishes. Keep a look out for tostada catalan, a toasted dish of ham, olive oil, tomato and garlic on an open bread roll.
England has a bit of an unfair international reputation for poor cuisines. In fact, there are a number of common staples in England that are very unique and tasty. Consider for example, a fish and chips dish (served all over the world, but originally English), or shepherd’s pie (minced lamb baked with mashed potatoes and carrots on top). Here are some recipes for dishes that represent some of the more renowned English “comfort food” specialties.
Another nation famous for its cuisine, Italy has recipes and meals that are now sold in restaurants worldwide. However, as most people who visit Italy will tell you, you haven’t truly experienced these traditional dishes until you’ve had them in Italy. Even something as basic as a slice of pizza or a spaghetti can taste entirely different – and so much more special – at a genuine Italian restaurant. The best advice in Italy is to eat whatever you are given!
Now, that is just a small sampling of foods available in some of the most popular countries in Western Europe, there are numerous other countries in Europe and Eastern Europe that are equally as exciting to explore, especially when it comes to food!
How about you? What is your favorite country for food in Europe?
Find more interesting European food delights in the Highlights on AFAR.
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