It’s no secret that Europe has some of the most delicious and unique foods in the world. Each country has its own food identity including both savoury and sweet. Each country you go to – no matter how close or far – has a completely different dish to try!
Below is a list of my top 10 favourite European foods…
What is it: Perogies are a polish style dumpling usually stuffed with vegetables, potatoes or meat. There are so many different flavours to try, and you have the option of having them steamed or fried either way they honestly melt in your mouth. My favourite type is steamed potato and bacon stuffed perogies, sprinkled with delicious crackling…
Origin: The origin of Perogies is widely disputed. However they either came from China through Italy from Marco Polo’s expeditions, or they were brought to Poland by Saint Hyacinth who brought them back from Kiev.
Where to try: I had my first ever Perogies at Gościniec, a restaurant in Warsaw. A plate of 10 perogies will set you back about €6 – a worthwhile investment if you ask me…
#2 Pasteis de Nata
What is it: Pasteis de Nata (or Pasteis de Belem) is a delicious Portuguese custard tart. A crispy pastry base and a sweet, creamy, melt-in-your-mouth custard are just some of the reasons why you need to try this custard tart. Served warm with icing sugar and cinnamon, two of these sickly sweet treats is definitely enough to tickle your tastebuds…
Origin: These Portuguese tarts were created before the 18th century by Catholic monks in Belém in Lisbon. The monks were originally based in France where these pastries could be found in local bakeries.
Where to try: I tried these delicious treats at Manteigaria, a popular bakery located in the centre of Lisbon. They only cost €1 a tart! Manteigaria serves them warm and gooey, with little sachets of icing sugar and cinnamon…
What is it: Currywurst is a German sausage dish, where a pork sausage is sliced into pieces and then topped with a delicious curry-ketchup sauce or curry powder. Sounds delicious, right? Well to top it off, this dish is served with a crusty bread roll or a side of chips!
Origin: Currywurst’s creation is thanks to Herta Heuwer. In Berlin in 1949, she got some ketchup and curry powder from British soldiers in Germany. She poured these mixed together over a pork sausage and voilà! Currywurst was created.
Where to try: You don’t have to go to a fancy restaurant in order to find currywurst, it can be found at almost every corner in Berlin. My favourite place to try currywurst is Moe-Grill a popular fast food chain found in most of Germany. For only €6 you can get a large currywurst, a crusty bread roll and a soft drink! It’s definitely a place you must try!
What is it: I feel like its pretty obvious what pizza is, but I’m specifically talking about Italian pizza here. Italian pizza is traditionally wood-fired and is eaten with a knife and fork in Italian restaurants. The most authentic type of pizza is Pizza Napoletana (Neopolitan Pizza) which can be found in Naples and is topped with tomatoes and mozzarella.
Origin: Pizza originated in Italy, specifically Raffaele Esposito from Naples is accredited to creating the first ever pizza pie. There’s also talk of pizza originally being brought to Italy as a type of flat bread by Marco Polo.
Where to try: Obviously pizza can be found not just all over Italy, but all over Europe. The most authentic place to try a pizza is Naples, where pizza originated from. There’s plenty of authentic pizza places in Naples, but I tried my first Italian pizza at Sorbillo a popular restaurant in the heart of Naples. We had to wait for a table, but it was definitely worth it!
#5 Belgian Fries
What is it: Once again, it’s pretty obvious what plain fries are. But Belgian fries are served in a unique way. Belgian fries are thick cut and fried twice for extra crispiness, and then loaded up into a large cone and smothered in any sauce of your choosing. They are by far the best fries I’ve ever tasted.
Origin: According to local legend, poor villages living in Belgium ate small fried fish that they caught in the river. During the winter months, the river would freeze over, so they would slice and fry potatoes much like they would fry the fish.
Where to try: Popular places to try Belgian Fries are scattered all over the cities of Belgium and other cities in Europe. The first Belgian fries I ever had were from Fritland, a fast food chain in Brussels packed with people. Make sure to try your fries with mayonnaise!
What is it: Febo is a very unique fast-food chain found all over Amsterdam and The Netherlands. The fast food restaurants are in an automatic format, where you have to insert money in a vending machine style in order to get your food of choice. The different types of food are behind small glass windows, next to the window is a coin slot where you can insert coins to open up the window and take out your food.
Origin: Febo was founded in 1941 in Amsterdam, instantly becoming popular with its automotive style.
Where/What to try: Febo can be found all over Amsterdam’s city centre. The fast-food chain consists of krokets, fries and also hamburgers. My favourite thing to try is the delicious, crispy krokets.
#7 Belgian Waffle
What is it: Belgian waffles are a type of waffle that has a lighter and crispier texture. They can be topped with a variety of toppings including ice cream, cream, berries, different types of chocolate and jam. The most popular type is waffles topped with Nutella.
Origin: Waffles were first sold as crispy, sweet treats in the Middle Ages, out front of churches in Belgium. They were then introduced to the world at the 1964 World Fair in New York by Maurice Vermersch.
Where to try: You can find stores selling Belgian Waffles on almost every corner of every Belgian city. The best waffle I ever tried was in Bruges at Chez Albert, who’s waffles are to die for! They come in a small paper tray, with a choice of topping and a fork. I tried mine with dark chocolate topping and it was absolutely delicious!
What is it: Paella is a Spanish rice dish consisting of seafood, vegetables, chicken or rabbit. It is an amazingly delicious dish which can be found all over different parts of Spain. The dish is cooked in a special type of deep pan Paella is originally from Valencia, and that is by far the best place to try it.
Origin: The invention of Paella is said to be attributed to servants that would take the leftovers from royal banquets, and cook them up to take home to there families. Paella became a popular dish in the mid-nineteen hundreds when it started to be served to labourers. The workers would get together at midday and combine rice and other leftovers, cooked over an open fire.
Where to try: You can find traditional paella all over Valencia in both cheap and expensive restaurants. However, I tried my first paella home-cooked at the hostel I was staying at in Valencia. It was packed with beans, and served with a rabbit leg – the dish was delicious!
What is it: Gelato is a type of Italian ice cream, which contains no eggs and more milk than classic ice cream. Gelato is also churned at a slower speed which makes it denser. It is also served not completely frozen, which makes it have a softer and silkier texture than ice cream. There’s only a narrow range of flavours that gelato can take, the traditional ones being vanilla, chocolate, hazelnut, pistachio, tiramisu and other fruit flavours.
Origin: Gelato was first introduced in the 16th century. No one really knows who or where gelato came from but most stories say that Bernardo Buontalenti, a man from Florence, impressed the court of Caterina Dei Medici with his new creation. Gelato could have originated from the mixture of snow and fruit juices in the east, that was brought to eastern Italy.
Where to try: Gelato is found almost everywhere in Italy. There’s plenty of authentic places to try, and its fun to try all of the different places in each city. My favourite gelato flavours are pistachio and dark chocolate, they are absolutely delicious!
#10 Moules Frites
What is it: Moules Frites is a French dish consisting of mussels in a creamy sauce and a side of crispy fries. The mussels and sauce are usually served in a large bowl with an extra bowl on the side to put the shells. Moules Frites is one of my favourite French dishes that I have ever tried!
Origin: Moules Frites actually originated in Belgium. In the 1700s, mussels were prepared in Belgian homes during wintertime when there was a shortage of fish. Mussels were a cheap alternative to fish and were quickly adopted as a dish in Belgium.
Where to try: Moules Frites can be found all over fancy and cheap restaurants in Belgium and France. I tried my first Moules Frites in ___ . They were one of the most delicious meals I had ever tried until a bird flew above me and decided to relieve itself all over my meal…