Europe represents a particular kind of foodie heaven, considering the number of different countries, cultures and kinds of cuisine to be found in a relatively small space. With such a wide variety of food waiting to be sampled, running out of new meals to try in Europe presents about as real of a threat as entering an understaffed Apple Store. Below we present the items we think are the biggest must-tries on any visit to Europe.
1.) Gyros in Greece
Even if you think you’ve tasted gyros before, you haven’t tasted gyros before – unless you’ve already ticked this one off in Greece that is. There’s something so satisfying about this perfectly-seasoned meat wrapped in a fresh, soft pita lying next to feta or haloumi, a splash of tzatziki and a bit of salad consumed on a hot sunny day sitting among cool white buildings on an island in the middle of the Aegean Sea.
2.) Fish sandwiches in Istanbul, Turkey
Punctuate a day exploring magnificent Istanbul with a fish sandwich cooked right in front of you on a rocky boat floating on the Bosphorus. The fish is freshly caught and spectacularly seasoned, the bread is fresh and the setting is both picturesque and lively. The boats can be found on the western side of the Galata Bridge, right near Yeni Cami, or the New Mosque.
3.) Pintxos in San Sebastian, Spain
Pintxos are a particular kind of tapas available throughout Spain, though the region most famous for these little wedges of delight is San Sebastian on the northern coast. Pintxos can be pretty much anything, served on bread, so there is little chance of failing to find something you like.
4.) Pretzels and bread in Germany and Poland
Germanic nations in particular are high achievers when it comes to the art of bread making, and for those among us still able to enjoy gluten, at least one bakery must be included on the European itinerary. Every nation offers its own variety of buns fresh from the oven, many of which are very familiar.
You will find pretzels in more than one place, but a good place to try them is in Bavaria, where you can enjoy the pretzel alongside Weisswurst (white sausage) and sweet mustard, with a beer to wash it all down naturally. In Poland you find the home of bagels, with the first ever mention of this celebrated boiled piece of dough recorded in Krakow.
5.) Curry on Brick Lane, London, UK
It may seem an odd combination to some, but given the long history between India and the United Kingdom it should come as little surprise that Indian cuisine has become such a firm staple in London in particular. Brick Lane and its surrounds are known for a large number of curry houses, where delicious Indian dishes can be enjoyed.
6.) Gelato in Italy
Italy is possibly one of the most famous European destinations for food – has any other nation so successfully exported and integrated its cuisine into such a high number of foreign countries? Pizza and pasta are naturally a must when visiting the boot-shaped land, but make sure you leave room for gelato. Not only is it extraordinarily cheap here, but you can find it anywhere and there will almost always be a flavour you have yet to try.
7.) Goulash in Budapest
This meaty stew has long since made it big outside its homeland, but as the birthplace of the dish Hungary is undeniably the best place to try it. Featuring meat, vegetables, the Hungarian staple spice of paprika and other spices, goulash is one of Hungary’s national dishes and is therefore the perfect accompaniment to a cold winter day at the baths or a big day of sightseeing.
8.) Fries in Belgium
The fact that they have become known as ‘French fries’ in the US is perhaps one of the biggest injustices when it comes to names for food in the history of the world. Facts are murky, but the first mentions of fries are difficult to attribute and Belgium are therefore unable to claim full credit for this work of art.
The history is mixed but is rather unimportant – something we can all agree on is how spectacular this particular food item is, and Belgium is considered the place to try fries in their native land. Add mayonnaise for a more authentic experience.
9.) Cassoulet in France
Another hearty dish on the menu is cassoulet, a rich French casserole made from different kinds of meat including duck or goose, pork skin and white beans. The dish comes from southern France, and is best sampled in Toulouse, Carcassonne and Castelnaudary.
You can also purchase cassoulet ready made in cans from the supermarket, though we imagine these varieties are rather less tasty than those you will find in a restaurant.
10.) Sachertorte in Vienna
Rounding out all the savoury dishes is Sachertorte, a kind of chocolate cake invented by Franz Sacher for Prince Wenzel von Metternich in 1832. The cake features chocolate sponge, apricot jam, and dark chocolate icing and is so good that National Sachertorte Day is actually a thing that takes place on December 5.
11.) Crepes with Nutella everywhere
Nutella is extraordinarily popular in Europe, particularly in Italy, France and Germany. For this reason, you will find roadside stands all over the place selling freshly made crepes slathered with melting Nutella. At Christmas time, crepes are available in even more abundance as markets pop up across Europe in an effort to warm residents of the icy continent.
Europe tour packages, listed below, offer something for everyone. Head to Tour Amigo to see what each tour operator offers.
Author’s Bio: Courtney Gahan is a serial expat, traveller and freelance writer who has bartered with Moroccan marketeers, seen the sun rise at Angkor Wat and elbowed her way through crowds on NYE in NYC.