A Tour Through Europe’s Culinary Diversity

It is a given that Europe is one of the most beautiful continents to visit. And a journey through the amazing continent should probably on everyone’s bucket list. Of course, a big part of that includes the wide range of food that Europe has to offer.

European cuisine is as diverse as the countries themselves. Modern European cuisine also takes from other cultures just as much it has influenced them. Despite their various differences, from the typical English breakfast to the Italian pastas and salads, to the French wine to the famous German beer, Europe has some features in its plate that distinguish it as a continent different from perhaps Asian cuisine or African cuisine.

European cuisine, also known as Western cuisine, for example, has more meat per serving of the food. It also puts a lot of emphasis on grape wines. Bread is a significant part of the European diet, the difference here being that risen-breads (which use yeast or raising agents) are consumed more than flat breads (like pasta, pizza, etc.) as compared to the East, where flat breads are consumed more, for example in Indian meals where the naan bread (a kind of flat bread) is a daily staple of most homes, although the potato has been rapidly accepted by the Europeans after the colonisation of the Americas, showing how various external influences shaped the cuisine.

Rice is also eaten widely, yet it does not make up a large part of the staple diet just like the flat breads. Salads and meat on the other hand, as mentioned before, are an integral part of the European staple diet and are consumed extensively. Unlike other parts of the world, formal European dining has distinct separate courses with a very strict order of what is to be eaten first and what follows. Whatever the course, the food always seems to have its own identity and tell the story of its origins. There are far too many to state, but some of the most well-known foods of Europe are as follows:

1. The famous wiener schnitzel is a well-known Austrian dish, said to have originated in Italy and introduced to Viennese culture in the 16th century A.D. The apple strudel is also one of Austria’s most well-known dishes.

2. No tour of Europe is complete without visiting Germany. Its cuisine is extremely shaped by its culture. When in Germany, it is imperative to try out some regional Deutsch Bier and its famous Sauerkraut. One could also take some time to enjoy their large range of jams, pastries and some savoury staples like Bratwursts.

3. When visiting France, it is easy to get lost in the beauty of the cobblestones, the Eiffel tower, the classic French maids and the smell of fresh French bread. Why not find a good restaurant and try some brandy or wine? Cheese and herbs are integral parts of French cuisine and can be paired with a variety of breads, meat and wine.

4. Moving towards English cuisine can be very exciting. England started trading spices with India centuries ago, and brought with it a large assortment of herbs and spices, which it has used in its various dishes. Apart from the well known English tea and muffin, one can also look forward to pastries, a variety of pies and tarts.

5. Spanish cuisine stands out vibrantly in European cuisine. In fact, European cuisine owes a lot of its diversity in food to Spanish and of course, Italian cuisines. It is full of flavour and rich in textures and fresh produce. Spanish food is a blend of Roman, Celtic and Greek food, whereas Italian food is more inspired by countries like Austria and France. Potatoes, rice, almonds, lentils, beans, herbs and spices give Spanish food its wholesomeness, along with the abundant use of tomatoes and red chillies and bell peppers that give the food its flavour.

Italian food also uses fresh produce with its blend of spices and herbs. It is usually very spicy due to the red and black peppers and the red and green bell peppers that are frequently used in their dishes. Lasagne, ravioli and pizza are some of the famous Italian dishes. Cheese is a significant part of Italian cuisine and is used for various dishes. And don’t forget about the Sicilian mafioso, equivilant to modern day debt collectors trying to break your phone’s ankles!

Europe in itself has a lot of variety in cuisine and culture, with age old culture and customs shaping it overtime as time progresses.