Europe. What a delicious continent with an incredible choice of food for every type of traveller.
With so many options to choose from, you might have wondered which dishes you ‘must try’ in each country?
This Europe food map is reflective of the food we’ve tried while exploring here, and we think they’re worth writing about.
Schnitzel has been the king in Central Europe probably for centuries and Austria claims to be the birthplace of this tasty meat dish. Boneless meat is thinned with a meat tenderizer, coated with flour, beaten eggs and breadcrumbs, and then fried, served with fries or potatoes. If you ask us, one schnitzel is never enough…
Smørrebrød means open sandwich and it consists of a piece of buttered rye bread, topped with cold cuts, pieces of meat or fish, cheese or spreads. It is mandatory when in this wonderful country and if your waiter is extremely pleasant, don’t question it, the Danes are the happiest people on the planet.
The quintessential dish for beautiful Ireland goes to Irish stew, a tasty lamb or beef stew with potatoes, onions and thyme. It keeps you warm even in Irish weather.
Paella is the signature dish of Spain made from rice, saffron, chicken/rabbit, seafood and vegetables, cooked and served in a large shallow pan. The original paella comes from the city of Valencia. Tapas are bite-sized snacks served in Spanish bars, the variety and range are as rich and wide as Spanish culture. Ask a local to find a real gem.
Bacalhau is the Portuguese word for cod and it seems like that Portugal has 365 ways of preparing cod in their dishes. Hence, their bacalhau makes our list. Bacalhau a bras was our favourite: shredded cod is sautéed with potatoes and onion. Who knew cod can be this yummy?
A crêpe or crepe is a kind of very thin pancake, usually made from wheat flour or buckwheat flour and flavoured with lemon and sugar or Nutella. Makes for a perfect street snack, virtually anytime.
The tiny country wedged between France and Spain is not shy next to its neighbours when it comes to food, as they enjoy their own national dish. Escudella is a traditional Catalan a slow-cooked stew of meat, potatoes, chickpeas, turnips, and carrots. Perfect for a cold winter evening after a day of skiing.
Oh, Italy, you must be a food affair for many of us. Pizza and pasta are deemed to be the ultimate food experience for any visitor, and we politely agree. With 300 types of pasta to try, who could disagree?
Wurst, the german word for sausage can truly deliver in the country of pork, sauerkraut and of course, beer. Try the currywurst – fried pork sausage cut into slices and seasoned with curry ketchup, a sauce based on spiced ketchup and curry paste.
Waffles in Belgium seem to taste better! Belgium waffle is denser than other waffles as it’s made with buttery brioche dough and sprinkled with sugar that caramelizes on the crust when cooked. Strawberries plus whipped cream is a must!
- The Netherlands
Herring might not sound like something you would like to try, but ensure that you do when you come to the country of bikes, cheese and tulips. You might be pleasantly surprised and if you eat it like the Dutch, then it comes with diced raw onion as a topping.
Judd mat gaardebounen or smoked pork-neck in a cream-based sauce with broad beans is the dish of Luxembourg, which is impressive considering the size of this country. We came, we saw and we ate.
Köttbullar or Swedish meatballs are renowned around the world, thanks to the world domination of Ikea, which spread it across the globe. Either way, these meatballs taste delicious.
Finland isn’t known for its food, but their blueberry pie or in Finnish: mustikkapiirakka (Don’t worry. We had to google the spelling too) is one of the best desserts we have ever had. Juicy, fresh and full of flavour.
Fondue is without any doubt the national dish of Switzerland. Emmental and Gruyère cheese are mixed with white wine in a large pot and cooked until the flavours come together. It’s served bubbling hot and eaten by dipping pieces of bread into it.
Yes, we know. Salmon doesn’t sound as foreign and unique but we couldn’t help ourselves because the salmon in Norway is simply too exquisite not to list it here. Don’t believe us? Just try it and you will understand. Exquisite we said!
Russia is the largest country in the world so picking only one dish wasn’t easy, but we settled on Pelmeni – Russian dumplings. Made of soft dough and filled with meat and served with sour cream. You can find them virtually everywhere, from Moscow to Siberia.
Estonia has fantastic food overall, but the most typical and unique meal we came across must be the Verivorst – a traditional blood sausage. Yes, we understand it’s not to everybody’s taste, but served with sauerkraut and bread and in a very cold winter, you might just enjoy it.
Pierogi are the most popular Polish food for visitors. Why not? These little dumplings come with tonnes of fillings, but sauerkraut, meat and cheese are the better ones. Pierogi are served with fried onion on top.
If you haven’t been to Belarus yet, draniki might just be the reason to go. Draniki or potato pancakes are shallow-fried pancakes of grated or ground potato, flour and egg, often flavoured with grated onion or garlic and seasoning. Topped with mushrooms or sour cream you will question how you could ever live without them.
Cepelinai is a Lithuanian national dish. They are a type of dumpling made from grated and riced potatoes and usually stuffed with minced meat, mushrooms or dry cottage. Mushrooms were our favourite and seem like the country is obsessed with mushroom picking.
After eating lots of potatoes and meat in Latvia, we eventually came across this really unique dish. Sklandrausis is a small pie, made from rye pastry that is filled with a mixture of carrots and potatoes and baked. Delightful.
Halusky is the traditional dish of little Slovakia. Potato made dumplings are served with goats cheese called bryndza and topped with bits of fried bacon. Oh yes, it’s even better than it sounds, trust us… We would live on them if we could.
- Czech Republic
Svickova translates to marinated beef sirloin and for us, it is as Czech as it gets. The beef must be marinated for more than 24 hours and it’s served with gravy and Czech dumplings. Next time you’re in the Czech Republic, Czech it out.
Goulash is a genuine crowd pleaser. This thick stew made out of vegetables, meat and potatoes and seasoned with paprika, the essential spice of Hungary. It has been the national dish for Hungary for centuries. The best thing about goulash is that the longer you cook it the better it gets.
Gibanica or the exact Prekmurska Gibanica is a type of dessert that will turn even a non-sweets eater. It beautifully combines poppy seeds, walnuts, apples, raisins and ricotta fillings into one scrumptious dessert. Served hot, alongside a good coffee is our idea of bliss.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
Cevapci or Cevapcici is yet another treat which can be found in Balkan countries. Minced meat formed into cylindrical pellets is grilled and served in fresh bread with onions, sour cream and ajar (red pepper relish).
Burek is the ultimate breakfast and snack in Serbia. Essentially a pie made out of flaky dough filled with meat, cheese or spinach, eaten with yoghurt. These little pastries are very close to our hearts.
Whether you love a good burger or not, Pljeskavica will certainly satisfy. This is the truly Croatian way of doing a burger the right way. Quality meat is minced for a juicy patty, grilled and served inside of fresh bread with some vegetables.
Flia is the traditional dish in Kosovo and it even has its own national day! Flia consists of multiple crepe-like layers laid in a star pattern and layered with cheese. It’s served with a kayak (a dairy product similar to clot cream).
The less explored Macedonia will please your tastebuds. Tavče Gravče (Baked beans with peppers) is the heart and soul of Macedonian cooking. It is prepared with fresh beans, onions and red peppers and cooked in a special earthenware pot.
One of the most well-known Greek dishes, moussaka can be made in many different ways to suit taste. It includes sliced eggplant baked with a ground beef sauce and then smothered in a thin white sauce. Home-made moussaka is always the best.
Turkey truly delivers when it comes to food. Too many choices to choose from, but we settled on kebabs – meat is roasted on a vertical spit and shredded to be used as filling in pita bread with vegetables and yoghurt based sauce. Amazing! Once you have satisfied your hunger, head to one of the many bakeries selling baklava – a rich sweet pastry made of layers of filo, syrup, nuts and honey. Orgasmic!
Located next to Croatia, Montenegro shares a few dishes with its neighbour. But then there is Kacamak, which is a heavy dish consisting of mashed potatoes, corn flour and wheat, served with cheese and milk. A meal designed to keep you going all day long.
We have chosen to list Scotland here, instead of absorbing it under the United Kingdom. Mostly, we really wanted to feature Haggis, as it might be amongst one of the most unique meals in Europe. Haggis consists of a sheep’s or calf’s offal mixed with oatmeal, suet, seasoning and boiled in a bag, traditionally one made from the animal’s stomach.
England has been cooking this dish for a long time, and they do it well. Good old fashion Fish and Chips can be proudly called English. So head down to the coast on that one sunny day a year and enjoy some fish and chips, generally served with peas. Maybe even get a little wild and order it with mushy peas?
Skyr is a famous Icelandic soft cheese/yoghurt and although we understand it might not be considered a dish, it’s simply too tasty not to mention. Icelanders claim it to be a super-food so there is yet another reason to try it.
Borsch is often found in Russia and Poland, but it is Ukraine where this dish truly originates. Borsch is a soup made with beetroot and usually served with sour cream, which you can stir in if you prefer creamier soup. And it’s often sprinkled with dill… You know to make it “dill – licious”.
Moldova is among the least visited countries in Europe so we were hoping to find undiscovered food here. Mamaliga, the nations dish is a cornmeal porridge with a bread-like texture. It reminded us of Italian polenta.
Halloumi is a national pride of Cyprus. This semi-hard cheese is made using a mixture of goat, sheep and cow milk and it is exceptional. Generally it’s fried or grilled and then eaten hot. It tastes great on its own or served it alongside some grilled meats on the bbq or even inside a gyros.
Located in the heart of Mediterranean we were expecting Italian/Spanish flavours only to find the national dish to be fenkata – a rabbit stew. They have really nailed this dish. Divine!
- San Marino
We thought there was no chance of finding a dish that signifies San Marino, considering it’s location in the food heaven of Italy. We were wrong. Piadina does it. Ok, it is flat thin bread, but it can be filled with all the goodness of Italy…Think prosciutto, buffalo mozzarella and tomatoes that are out of this world.
A small country that has proudly introduced their own meal. Käsknöpfle is a pasta-like dish with melted cheese, sweet fried onions, butter and apple sauce. Simple, but it works.
The cuisine of Albania is strongly influenced by Italian, Slavic and Turkish flavours. We have been told to try Fergesë which is a dish of baked peppers, cheese, egg and sometimes meat. Scrumptious!
Regardless of the fact that Romania is more known for Dracula than its food, we kept our bellies full and our taste buds happy here. We have been served Ciorba – a simple but delicious sour soup. The sourness comes from lemon juice and yeast we have been told and the variation to include vegetables and meat. They also claim to fix your hangover after you had one too many shots of homemade plum brandy.
- Vatican City
Unfortunately, we were not able to come up with a unique dish for the smallest country in the world… but we had a pretty nice gelato nearby.
Banitsa is Bulgarian savoury cheese pie served as an appetiser or as a street snack. It is created by layering a mixture of whisked eggs and pieces of cheese between filo pastry, then baked in an oven. Try to get it when it’s just been cooked.
It wasn’t easy to find a special dish in Monaco. Everyone was more concerned about casinos, flash cars and shopping. Nonetheless, we have been advised to find barbagiuan – deep fried pastry stuffed with ricotta and spinach.
Have you tasted a specific dish in any of these countries? Is there anything on this list you are really excited to try?