European Food Trip: Seven Tongue-tingling Destinations
You can’t have too much of a good thing. Whether you get these goodies at home or from the local resto, you can always get more from your backyard… the backyard that is the rest of Europe, to be exact. Eat your way through from the UK to Greece!
- Italy. The tradition of Roman greatness has spawned food so delicious, it has transcended boundaries. It’s not difficult to find a pizzeria or two in most parts of the world, but there’s nothing like having Italian right here it all began. There’s Pizza alla Napoletana topped with basil, mozzarella, and anchovies; tonno alla palermitana, tuna marinated in lemon, garlic, rosemary, and white wine, with sardines; and maccheroni alla chitarra, pasta in a sauce of bacon, tomatoes, and Pecorino cheese. The cookies and coffee mustn’t be missed either.
- France. It is the home of award-winning chefs and restaurateurs, as well as words which have become common the world over – pâté, foie gras, and escargot… a trip to France is a gastronomic experience unlike any other. You can sit down for a good meal at your neighbour’s, or pick a restaurant from about 5,000 in Paris. From the usual steak frites (steak and fries), coq au vin (chicken in red wine), and bouillabaisse (fish soup), there are loads more to try: moules à la crème Normande (mussels in cream, garlic, and white wine), gratin savoyard (layers of potatoes and Beaufort cheese, butter, and bouillon), and petite madeleine (shell-shaped cakes with nuts).
- Spain. With flavours as strong as toros in a bullfight, Spanish food is best enjoyed region by region. Satisfy a sweet tooth in Andalusia, where confections are sprinkled with almonds and doused with honey. Seafood is a favourite in Madrid (try prawns cooked in beer) but meat-lovers are equally gratified with choices ranging from deer to boar. In Catalonia, both the mountain and the sea provide ingredients, from rockfish to rabbit. Don’t forget to try a different kind of bar-hopping experience as you try out tapas – samplers of everything from ham to shrimp – from street to street.
- Great Britain. However jaded you might be about the cheerless weather, the English isles have much to offer anyone eager for a filling meal. Traditional dishes include bangers and mash (potatoes and sausages), toad-in-the-hole (where sausages, and not amphibians, find their way into puddings), and bubble and squeak (chopped vegetables with mashed potato). The list of inventive names doesn’t end with the main course. Desserts such as spotted dick (pudding with raisins) and roly-poly (pudding with jam or fruit) are served on most English tables.
- Germany. The beer is unrivalled, but the land of Oktoberfest has quite a few delish dishes to offer, too. Forget about America’s hotdogs, hamburgers, and meatloaves (which, by the way, they “stole” from Germany). There are loads of sausages to choose from: Blood-and-Tongue, Liver Cheese, and Weisswurst (with pork and veal) are just a few. They have a knack for dessert too, like schwarzwälder kirschtorte, black forest cake with cherry schnapps; bienenstich ili, “bee-sting cake” made of honey and almonds; and spice cookies, with paprika, cloves, ginger, and other seasonings thrown in.
- Greece. The gods and goddesses smile upon this beautiful country, blessing it with good food. Grilled beef steaks and pork chops are among the everyday fare, but spit-roasted lamb and goat are also on the Greek menu. For a treacly pick-me-up, pop into a zacharo-plastion. You’ll find one of these shops in every neighbourhood. They sell baklava, made from dough with nuts and syrup; yaourti me meli (yogurt with honey); and glyka tou koutaliou or “spoon sweets,” which are fruit preserves.
- Switzerland. They have made excellence their trademark, and food is no exception. Aside from nibbling on cheese and chocolate, have the specialty saucisse aux choux (pork and cabbage-filled sausage) in the Lake Geneva area. The meal of choice in Zurich is geschnetzeltes with rösti, creamy strips of veal and fried potatoes with all the butter your heart can stand. Luzerner chügelipastete is Lucerne’s “national dish,” a puff pastry with veal and mushroom filling.