Learning about a country through its culinary arts is one of travel’s principle pleasures. Food is a tangible reflection of geography, history, and culture; there are few more pleasurable ways to become well acquainted with a country than through its gastronomy, and each region has something unique to add to the menu. From breakfast to dessert, exploring the many flavors of Europe will be one of the most fulfilling parts of your trip.
Start with the most important meal of the day: breakfast. In Ireland and the United Kingdom, the full breakfast, or “fry-up,” of bacon, sausage, eggs and a variety of sides will fuel an exciting day of sightseeing. Or, you might go for the European continental breakfast of pastries, fruits and cheeses before heading out into the city to explore the shops and museums. And no breakfast in Europe is complete without a cup of tea or coffee.
If you find yourself hungry around lunchtime in the Benelux, be on the lookout for the region’s classic pairing of moules frites. Fresh mussels are sautéed with white wine, onion and other vegetables and served up with crispy fries, which often come with a side of mayonnaise instead of ketchup. Wash them down with an iconic Belgian beer and then embark on a brewery tour to learn more about the Belgian brewing tradition.
Pause for a tasty afternoon snack of meze in Greece. These appetizer-like dishes are available at bars and cafes throughout the country and are often enjoyed in a festive atmosphere. Meze come in many flavors, hot or cold, and are made with meat or seafood. Just add some ice-cold ouzo and you’ll be making new friends and feeling like a local in no time.
When it’s time for dinner in Scandinavia, opt for dishes like fresh-caught Norwegian salmon from the famous fjords of Norway. In addition to their famous meatballs, Sweden offers world-class dining in traditional as well as modern settings, and is rapidly becoming a sought-after destination for award-winning cuisine. Discover even more innovative contemporary cuisine in Finland and Iceland.
Every good meal should end with a delectable dessert and after-dinner drink. Whether it’s sweet and creamy gelato in Italy or a heavenly slice of Viennese Sachertorte in Austria, always be sure to save room for dessert. It will be a delicious ending to your explorations of the many flavors of Europe.