Swedish meatballs, Belgian waffles, paella, pizza … Europe is stuffed full with good food and making a best-of is kind of impossible. But here we go, from classics to less well known delights, here are some of the things worth packing your bag, grabbing your passport, and jumping on a plane to try.
There are sandwiches and then there is the Francesinha, Portugal’s famous hangover food. This isn’t a grab and go situation but a serious sit-down, napkin-tucked-into-your-collar meal, so come to it hungry. Thick slices of toasted bread sit between layers of ham, sausage, cheese, and steak, more cheese is melted on top, a fried egg added and the whole thing smothered in a beer-infused tomato sauce. Oh, and it’s served with fries on the side.
Cinnamon buns in Scandinavia
Like a lot of the most popular food in the world, many people lay claim to the creation of the cinnamon buns you will find all over Scandinavia. Forget what you’ve tried at home or (whisper it) Ikea, a fresh cinnamon or cardamom bun from a Scandinavian bakery is a thing worth getting out of bed for.
Originally eaten by nomadic Turkish shepherds seven centuries ago the popularity of borek has spread throughout eastern and southern europe and you’ll find it being sold on the streets of Greece, Croatia, Albania, Slovenia and Bulgaria. Filo pastry is stuffed with cheese and spinach and twisted into a swirl shape that is perfect for breakfast or lunch.
Cacio e pepe
When a dish is made with only three ingredients they need to be the best quality in the world and for that we have to head to Italy. Cacio e pepe is regarded as one of the simplest and most satisfying Roman dishes- just spaghetti, aged Pecorino cheese and black pepper. A little pasta water is added to emulsify the cheese into a silky sauce that you will want to lick from the bowl. Antony Bourdain claimed this dish was not only the greatest food in Europe but “the greatest thing in the history of the world”
Pintxos in San Sebastian
The Lonely Planet has said eating pintxos in San Sebastian is the best eating experience in the whole world, so you’re going to want to check it out. Like tapas, pintxos are small dishes eaten in bars and served with beer, cider or wine. The best way to try them is to do a pintxos crawl, making your way through the narrow streets of this beautiful city stopping for a drink, a bite, then repeat until full.
Pizza in Napoli
Of course, we can’t write this without including pizza in Italy. Americans may have created their own versions of this classic but you have to head to Napoli to experience the truly, simple, best pizza in the world. Neapolitans are so passionate about it that the original recipe has a protected designation and only pizza made following strict guidelines can call itself Neopolitan pizza. The pizza must be shaped by hand and cannot be more than 3mm thick, and baked for only 60-90 seconds. Head to ristorante Sorbillo in Napoli and taste the results of this level of perfectionism.
The national dish of Georgia, Kachapuri is a boat-shaped soft bread filled with cheese, herbs and a runny egg. Georgians eat it for breakfast or dinner and it is traditionally served to welcome new friends to your home. Eat it like the locals and rip off a sturdy corner to mix the cheese, egg and butter into a gooey and delicious sauce.
Whilst France is known for its meat dishes and complicated haute cuisine this dish from Provence shows off the simple quality of some of the best vegetables in the world. Provence in summer is a place of dreams, a fertile land bathed in sun creating wine and produce unmatched in the world. Ratatouille combines tomatoes, eggplant, zuchinni, onions, herbs and plenty of olive oil. Accompany it with a bottle of rosé in a Provençal summer garden and be transported to heaven.
For those with a sweet tooth you must try a Stroopwafel from the Netherlands. Two waffle-like biscuits sandwiched between caramel syrup and eaten with coffee. Copy the local experts and balance a few on top of your coffee cup until the hot steam melts the caramel and you have to quickly eat it before moving onto the next one.
As you can see we haven’t even mentioned croissants, steak tartare, lasagne, paella or schnitzel…. The list of delicious food from Europe is endless so we recommend leaving room in your luggage for the extra baggy clothes you’ll need for your return flight.