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Explore Europe

Europe’s Food and Drink

European cuisine is as varied as the many countries that make up Europe. While there are many differences between the various cuisines that fall under the term of European cuisine, there are also similarities. European cuisine employs meat as a central or important ingredient of many of its dishes, be it in the form of seafood or land-based protein. Not only is meat more widely used, but portion sizes also tend to be larger.

Also important to European cuisines are sauces, seasonings and ingredients such as wheat and the humble potato, which are the primary sources of starch. Maize is seen less in Europe than in other parts of the world, though it is the basis of the wildly popular Italian polenta dishes.

The countries in Eastern Europe have many similarities between their respective cuisines and many differences. The differences lie mainly in the location and climate of the country. Poland is known for their national dish called bigos and flaki, which is a traditional Polish stew. Kielbasa and pierogies are also popular and are seen throughout other countries as well. Russia is famous for vodka, as well as chicken Kiev, beef stroganoff and blini. In Slovakia you can find bryndzové halušky, a dish of potato dumplings served with sheep cheese and bacon. This dish is often accompanied by Žinèica, a beverage made of sheep’s milk whey.

The Balkan countries are, however, are much more influenced by the bounty of the Mediterranean and the availability of great produce. Even inside the Balkan Peninsula there are as many differences as there are similarities to the cuisine. Moussaka is the national dish of Greece, and in Albania the national dish is made of fried meat, liver, eggs and tomatoes. In Slovenia you can find horse meat on menus, and can even enjoy a horse burger from the Hot Horse restaurant in Ljubljana.

Northern Europe is another melting pot of various cuisines. Here you can find authentic Dutch dishes in the Netherlands, identified by “NEERLANDS DIS” on restaurant signs. In the north you can also find such national specialties such as haggis from Scotland, Irish stew and chicken tika masala which is arguably England’s national dish (or is it fish and chips, or Roast Beef with Yorshire Pudding?). Icelandic, Finnish and Norwegian cuisines rely heavily on the bounty of the sea as do other northern countries bordering the ocean.

Western European cuisine is arguably the most well known, world wide; from Germany’s national dish of sauerbraten to the famous bratwurst.  When in Berlin be sure to order a currywurst from an imbiss (snack) kiosk on the street.  Belgium is known for superb chocolate, waffles, and mussels with pommes frites. In Ghent, Belgium try the local specialty, Waterzooi, a creamy Flemish stew usually made with chicken, fresh herbs, leeks, potatoes, celery, onion, and carrots.  And don’t forget to try some of the best beer in the world while eating in Germany and Belgium. Austria has gifted the world with weiner schnitzel and the tafelspitz from the Plachutta restaurant in Vienna is very popular. Vienna is also the only world capital which produces large quantities of wine, therefore wine bars are very popular. In France, Lyon is considered the food capital of the country. Famous for their cassoulet, Lyonnais sausage and tripe, it is also well known for their breads and pastry creations. Many famous chefs hail from Lyon, including Chef Daniel Boulud.

Southern Europe is home to some of the world’s best loved cuisines, and the best place on earth for pasta. Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region includes the food capital of Bologna, but Modena and Parma are equally loved for their balsamic vinegar and hams, prosciutto and cheeses, respectfully. Sunny Spain is known for their tapas and while most consider paella to be the national dish, locals consider it to be a Valencian dish.

No matter where you travel in Europe, you’re never far from great cuisine, and great beer and wine. The history of Europe can be tasted in the food, as many of these dishes are thousands of years old. The culture of European countries is maintained in their dishes which are loved not only by Europeans but by citizens of the world.

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Articles From Europe

Smoked Puffin breast with mustard sauce...probably the best puffin in Reyjavik

Iceland has some very interesting food (Minke whale, puffin, fermented shark, fresh seafood), and drink (black death) plus some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.  Spend a few minutes looking at these photos to learn almost everything you need to know about food and drink in Iceland.

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Bryndzové Halušky you have to try this national favorite! It's made with dumplings, sheeps cheese, sausage, and chopped bacon.

Some Slovak cuisine is well known in certain regions of the world where Slovaks have settled. It is not anywhere near as world famous and popular as French or Italian, but it has the power to warm the hearts of travelers. Many Slovakian foods were originated by the traditional lifestyle in the villages. Meals were prepared by the ingredients they […]

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Grilled Octopus

It is widely known that the Mediterranean cuisine is supposed to be one of the best in the international gastronomic community. From Spain and Italy, to Greece and Turkey, olive oil, vegetables, fruits, seafood and meat, cooked in all kinds of ways, are the major components of Mediterranean cooking, for over two centuries now. Most […]

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Traditional paella cooking in Valencia.  photo by Jan Harenburg

Valencia is the third largest city in Spain, and it is resplendent with amazing architecture, a profound sense of history and beautiful beaches. Many know that this vibrant and cosmopolitan city is home to the European Formula One Grand Prix, and it is also a popular destination for those attending La Tomatina, a much publicized […]

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Cheese from Swiss Alps

When most people think of the cheese capital of the world, France immediately leaps to mind. With their cultivated cuisine and sophisticated bistros, it is easy to see why. But Switzerland is no slouch when it comes to cheese making, and boasts at least 450 original varieties. Not bad for a little country that could […]

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Khachapuri - National Dish of Georgia

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Raclette cheese dinner served with potatoes.

  Cheese is one of the world’s most popular foods, and a staple in French as well as Swiss cuisine. Cheese fondue is a well-known and delicious way of enjoying this decadence. Raclette, which is similar to Fondue is a particular specialty of Switzerland. Fondue is a dish that was invented by the Swiss, and […]

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Waterzooi a must eat

Please look at the pictures at end of article! Ghent is a city in the Flemish region of Belgium, it is the fourth most populous city in Belgium and is only about 30 minutes from Brussels. it’s an interesting city that any foodie, or beer lover would certainly enjoy.  Ghent is often overlooked by tourist […]

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Pierogi topped with bacon from Pierogi by Night, open 24 hours

Krakow is no stranger to Culinary Tourism, and the Municipality of Krakow’s, Tourism Marketing Department was smart enough to realize the positive effect it has on promoting their city, and that trying new foods, especially regional foods, and eating local specialties, is a significant part of every visitor’s experience.  The Tourism Marketing Department should continue to promote “Culinary Tourism”, and should […]

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Cracked Kettle specialty beer and wine shop

Visit  one of these 3 places to drink (or take) some great Dutch beers, or sample some traditional Dutch gin (jenever) in a 360 year-old “tasting house”. At the Biercafe ‘t Arendsnest (The Eagle’s Nest) they only sell Dutch beers and they have 30 beers on tap and over 100 bottled beers.  They are located on a canal at Herengracht 90.  […]

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Endive (Andijvie) stamppot with meatball

Take a look at some of the Dutch food available in Amsterdam.  The Dutch like to eat Stamppot for dinner once the weather cools down, and also a warm, and hearty pea soup (Erwtensoep), made with bits of ham or sausage.  Stamppot is a mixture of boiled potatoes and vegetables topped with gravy and served with a large meatball […]

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Mick eating corn flakes in Egypt

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Fresh ravioli on rack in Bologna

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irishstew

By Roisin O’Sullivan “Deedle, deedle die potatoes…” In ways Ireland is one of the most stereotyped countries in the world. Many media images are all about Guinness, potatoes and small men in green three-piece suits who have lost their pots of gold. Yet no-one eats Lucky Charms in Ireland and if they did they certainly […]

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Croissant and coffee in Paris

French cuisine is celebrated throughout the world, but there is no place that you can get terrific, authentic cuisine as delicious as that you’ll find in France. Like other countries around the world, French cuisine is defined by the region and the season. The French in particular, let seasonal produce and ingredients dictate the kinds […]

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puffin

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