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European Food Guide: 5 Must-Try Iconic Regional Dishes

From the colder northern countries to beaches of the Mediterranean, European food encompasses classic, world-renowned cuisines.

There are also increasing forays into experimental culinary scenes everywhere, from the Scandinavian countries to Britain, Spain, and Greece.

Whether a stew, a sandwich, or a dessert, each agata country has its own iconic dishes and myriad different variations on them making for rich rewards for the gourmet traveler. Served from the pubs or Ireland to the bistros of France, you’ll find dozens of iconic regional dishes guaranteed to make the mouth water.

Boeuf Bourguignon, France

Rich beef, slow cooked in Burgundy wine alongside fresh vegetables and bacon, until it’s falling off the fork… there are few dishes that bring to mind the petite bistros of France than boeuf Bourguignon.

Served with slices of crusty baguette and a large glass of red, this is rustic French food at its best, with incredible ingredients handled with care and respect. A great alternative for those who aren’t fans of red meat is coq au vin—a remarkably similar dish with chicken or rooster replacing the beef.

Fish ’n’ Chips, England

It’s easy to think that fish ’n’ chips is the same meal around England, but there are a number of variations. The major change, of course, is the type of fish used.

Cod is the most popular option with the more flavorsome haddock coming a strong second, while rock salmon (dog fish), skate, pollock and other white flaky fish are also options.

The second biggest change comes from the frying fat used. While vegetable oils were all the rage for a while, the best “chippies” have now reverted to the more traditional beef dripping (fat rendered from roast beef) which again adds a unique flavor.

Souvlaki, Greece

The quintessential street food of Greece is another dish that comes in many forms. The word itself comes from the word souvla, or skewer, and refers to any meat or fish that is cubed, placed on bamboo skewers and grilled on an open fire.

They can be eaten by hand from the stick with a simple piece of bread, or wrapped in a soft pita bread with tomato, onion and tzatziki (yoghurt, cucumber, and garlic sauce). Pork is the most traditional type of meat but chicken, lamb, and even ground beef versions can also be found.

Pizza, Italy

While pizza can now be found the world over, it’s hard to imagine that this iconic European food originated only in the late 19th century when King Umberto I and Queen Margherita paid a visit to Naples.

Each region now has its own variation on the classic topped flatbread, but the best can still be found in the port city where pizza is said to have originated.

Not only is Naples home to the oldest pizzeria in the country, Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba, but it also hosts L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele, supposedly the best pizza in the world. This is a fact attested to by the long lines that form as the restaurant does not accept reservations and tables are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

Paella, Spain

Originating from Valencia, paella is the quintessential Spanish dish. Taking its name from the wide, shallow pan in which it is cooked on an open fire, the dish consists of short-grain rice, stock, wine or sherry, and vegetables, alongside herbs including saffron which gives the rice its deep yellow color.

Traditionally served with chicken or rabbit, paella de marisco is the seafood version, while diners who can’t decide and want the best of both worlds can opt for paella mixta (mixed paella).

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