When in Europe…try all the food!
I am a major foodie and took every opportunity in Europe to try the local popular dishes. As I was there in winter I had the opportunity to try a lot of the famed winter dishes as well as a serious amount of Gluhwein! Here are just a few of my favourites…
Our first night in Prague led us to Christmas market street food. We ended up having paprikova kransky and bread with mustard. Yes it’s essentially a glorified sausage sandwich but the level of freshness and tastiness of them made it an add on to the list.
Next up was Goulash, bread dumplings and Czech beer. This is a dish you will find on most menus in Prague though there are slight variations in recipe and presentation. I highly recommend this hearty winter dish and of course, a cheap Czech beer to wash it down with.
Ah, Trdelnik…. These things are everywhere in Prague! They are essentially a rolled pastry coated in sugar and cinnamon or chocolate and if you are lucky, filled with ice cream. It may have only been 2 degrees Celsius when I tried my first sample with ice cream but the deliciousness was enough to ignore the cold.
By Christmas Eve we were in Austria, Salzburg to be exact. Our hotel, the Imlauer Hotel Pitter, offered a three course Christmas feast. We started with a truffle and chestnut soup and then moved onto veal for the main. Truffles are a ridiculously expensive food and in knowledge of this I was surprised at how generous they were with the truffle amount in the soup…but I’m not complaining.
By dessert we were given a taster platter of sugary goodies. I don’t what was in some of them but I can say for certain that all dessert plates were empty when sent back to the kitchen.
Across Austria and Germany a plate of meat and brown is typical for winter. Roast pork, pork knuckle, and sausages are the main meat dishes, typically served with sauerkraut, and potato or a bread dumpling.
Salt levels in German foods were higher than I was used to but this became a great excuse for trying different drinks and desserts afterwards, such as Black Forest cake! Black Forest cake is a German staple and is essentially a rich chocolate cake with a cherry filling. That means, at least two samples are required in any sitting.
Another German staple we had ample servings of was pretzels. A simple salt pretzel is a great Friday afternoon snack to wash down with a good beer, if you can find a free table at the beer house that is!
By the time we had arrived in Paris I was ready for some French cuisine. of course we tried the crepes and the croissants but the best French food I found was the specials on the chef’s menu at a brasserie. The free fresh bread on the table wasn’t a bad add on either.
And then there were the pastries…One can simply not go to Paris and not eat their weight in pastries! On every street corner it seemed there was a pastry shop to visit. It certainly worked as a coping mechanism to have a chocolate pastry in hand when sitting under the Eiffel Tower in cold January weather.
European cuisine is creative and varied. In every country there are different traditional dishes to try if you are willing to go beyond your ‘ordinary’ type of food. Some were a hit and some were a miss but I believe one of the best ways to get to know a new culture is to take a bite out of the local foods.