Food around Europe: Guide, Facts & Recipes
Europe, considered to be one of the oldest continents in the world, has a vast array of cuisines, some of them being highly appreciated around the world and regarded as positive examples. The food in Europe can be both simple and sophisticated, depending on where you travel to and what you eat.
This continent was always a rich one, so an enormous number of ingredients are available here, which led to great dish diversity. It is worth every bite to try European food because it is an experience you will remember.
I Central European Cuisine
The cuisine of Central Europe is very diverse, each country having its particular food, even if the ingredients may be the same. Central European countries: Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland. The cooking means and used spices may differ, the dish that results being one with an entirely different taste. So even if you end up in a Central European country, do not suppose that what you ate there is the same as what you will find in the neighboring country because it won’t be so. Each country has a different culture and different cuisine, each of them being able to surprise you with new and exciting tastes.
If you travel to Austria, do not hesitate to enjoy the country’s famous Wiener Schnitzel. This traditional dish is served anywhere in the country, consisting of a slice of meat with no bones, thinned with a mallet, covered in a mixture of egg, white flour, and bread crumbles, and fried. Any side dish will be suitable, according to preferences. In Bulgaria, the dishes are also tasty and various. An interesting soup would be the Tarator soup, perfect for warm days. It is made out of yogurt and water, minced cucumber, garlic, dill, sunflower or olive oil, according to choice. In the Czech Republic, you will see a lot of dishes containing meat. So, everything from pork, to beef, poultry, rabbit, and fish is used, being served with dumplings, sauce, vegetables or as stews.
Besides all these, legumes, cereals, vegetables, fruits, mushrooms, and various herbs are a part of the Central European cuisine, these ingredients being prepared in very many ways. These were just a few examples, people being very creative when it came to making food, even when ingredients were scarce. So no matter where you travel in Central Europe, you will always find fascinating recipes. Local cuisines kept some traditional dishes, while others developed due to the import of various ingredients and cuisines of the neighbors.
II Eastern European Cuisine
In Eastern Europe, the existence of crops influenced the cuisine a lot, many recipes being made using wheat, rye, millet, barley, and buckwheat. Rye was used for making black bread, a custom that is kept until today in some regions. Fish is another widely used ingredient, due to the presence of numerous lakes. Bread and meat are an important part of this cuisine, together with berries and pancakes. Soups are a part of a regular meal, being served both cold and hot. Fruits and vegetables are also served, being availably in a wide diversity. Cherries, apricots, apples, figs, cucumbers and eggplants are all found in this cuisine. When it comes to the used herbs and spices, dill, mint, basil and peppers are utilized in many recipes. A common practice of this cuisine is the preservation of food. Smoking, salting, pickling, and even preservation with alcohol is used, for keeping various foods available during the cold season.
Russia’s cuisine is probably the most diverse in the East Europe, due to the fact that Russia is the largest country in the world. It covers many geographical regions, each having its own recipes according to the availability of ingredients. But, due to Russia’s desire for expansion and development, it also imported a lot of food and recipes from abroad, bringing in types of food that did not exist and new cooking techniques. The idea was to integrate all the good stuff the foreigners had in the Russian cuisine. Of course, the refined food assortments were available only for aristocrats, in the beginning, the rural population still relying on local supplies. Pastry cooking, greens, chocolate, wine, liquor and ice cream were all imported with the desire of being integrated into the existing cuisine.
Among the traditional dishes, borshch, a soup made out of beets, and pelmeni, which are dumplings filled with minced meat, are some of the most common. But, besides the cuisine of Russia, in the Eastern European cuisines are included Georgia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Belarus and the Armenian region.
III Northern European Cuisine
The Northern European cuisine consists in the Baltic, British and Scandinavian cuisines. Each of these cuisines developed according to its geographical positioning and the availability of ingredients. The cuisine of the British Isles is probably the most diverse, due to the number of different immigrants that moved to Britain in search for a better life, bringing a part of their traditional cuisine along. Most dishes in Britain are made with fresh local ingredients, because most Brits are passionate gardeners, growing what they need in their backyard. Also, local farms supply the surrounding area with fresh produces, the dishes being simple and almost always accompanied with a sauce made to match and underline the dish’s flavors. Poultry, lamb, mutton and beef are highly used in the British Isles, together with a wide array of vegetables. Stews, roasts, soups, and pies are some of the most appreciated dishes, served with a pint of beer.
In the Baltic cuisine, pork meat and potatoes are usually the stars of most recipes, although potatoes were brought in the area, not being native to the area, and pork was considered to be a delicacy back in the days. Because the winters are quite cold in the Baltic region, vegetables and salads are available more in the summer season. In winter, smoked fish, meat and pancakes are consumed a lot, together with preserved food. Fish, jams, pumpkin, and other foods are preserved through pickling, smoking or drying. In the Scandinavian cuisine, fish, poultry and pork are the most common types of meat. These are accompanied by potatoes, beets, other vegetables and mushrooms. The recipes in this area are simple, the pure flavors of the ingredients standing out.
IV Southern European Cuisine
The cuisine of Southern Europe is charming, filled with incredible flavors. It is composed out of the Mediterranean cuisine, the cuisine of the Balkans, and the cuisines of the Italian and Iberian peninsulas. Food in these parts of Europe is like nowhere else. Fresh ingredients are mainly preferred, the dishes being surprising when it comes to taste and nutritious as well. Poultry, fish, and seafood are used a lot, together with a variety of cheese, fresh vegetables, olives and olive oil, and herbs.
The Mediterranean cuisine is considered to be one of the healthiest in the world. In small islands in Greece, people are known for having considerable ages and still being in great shape, due to their lifestyle and diet. Olives and olive oil are used a lot in very many recipes, known for its incredible properties towards health. Goat cheese and yogurt, vegetables, fruits and seafood are also consumed a lot. This diet is rather low in meat, legumes and veggies being mostly used. In the cuisine of the Balkans, the recipes involve the use of spices, but not in excess, and water, the resulting sauces being natural and easy to digest. Again, vegetables are highly appreciated, especially roasted peppers. Concerning meat, lamb, and beef are preferred, most dishes being served with homemade bread.
The cuisine of the Italian Peninsula is well regarded throughout the world, putting an accent on the use of potatoes, tomatoes, and bell peppers. Pasta, pizza, risotto are just a few examples of this cuisine that ended up being known and appreciated worldwide. Olive oil and herbs, like cilantro and oregano, are used to give a subtle flavor to the dishes. The cuisine of the Iberian Peninsula, more precisely the cuisine of Spain, will also use olive oil, tomatoes, bell peppers and seafood as a part of their dishes. Beans are also appreciated, and chili is used quite often for a spicier taste, but garlic is also a star of the recipes in this region.
V Western European Cuisine
The cuisine of the Western Europe is probably the most well-known around the world. The most representative is the cuisine of France, which is sophisticated and refined, regarded by most chefs and cooking schools as a goal to be achieved. Also, the cuisine of Germany is a part of West Europe, known for its various recipes using meat. Different types of “wursts”, which means sausages, are prepared all over the country and served in various manners, being the European version of the hot dog in street food stalls. Belgium, another country that composes the Western European cuisine is known not necessarily for its savory dishes, but for the exceptional chocolate it produces. It is said that the most refined chocolate comes from Belgium, being served and prepared in numerous ways. But, a portion of pommes frites, which are French fries, with mussels, is also a must-try.
So the Western Cuisine is quite diverse, each country offering something different. Food is appreciated here with a pint of beer, Belgium, and Germany having famous types of beer. An exception might be France, where wine is more appreciated. In fact, French wines are known worldwide, having spectacular tastes and flavors. In fact, when people meet, it is common to end a dinner with a glass of wine and a serving of various types of cheese and grapes. The serving is placed on a large plate in the middle of the table, allowing everyone to reach the snacks.
Are you from Europe? Maybe you visited there? Please feel free to comment and add your own thoughts on European ethnic food.