French? Oui, oui, oui!
European cuisines have firmly established themselves in the global food scene – dishes inspired by the vibrant diet of the Mediterranean, the hearty fare of the Italians, or the beautiful pâtisserie of the French can be found the world over.
Yet, all too often the lesser-known European specialties are lost in the flurry of pizza, pasta, paella, and pastries! However, there is a lot we can learn by exploring the local gastronomy of other European areas. We’ve taken inspiration from recipes made by cooks around the world to compile a short list of must-do destinations to add to your recipe bucket list.
What Belgians lack in size, they certainly make up for with flavour! In fact, it’s been said that Belgian food is served in the quantity of German cookery, but with the quality of the French. Drawing strong culinary influences from their German and Dutch neighbours, the Belgians are revered for their mouth-watering menus that marry high-quality ingredients with rich, intense flavour.
They are also world famous for waffles, frites, and of course, chocolate. To get started, try this easy teacake, or if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, play around with their classic mussels-and-fries, or eels in green sauce.
Finally, a true hallmark of dining Belgian-style is to wash down your meal with a pint of beer. (But you don’t necessarily need to make that at home!)
Traditional Danish food was rustic and based around local ingredients that could be caught, collected, or grown in the countryside – uncomplicated foods such as rye bread, porridge, vegetables, and preserved fish or meat formed the majority of Viking sustenance. (It was hungry work, pillaging those villages!) Although the revival of New Nordic cooking in the mid-2000s transformed the cuisine into the refined, simple, and satisfying foodstuffs you’ll find today, the focus on seasonal and local produce remains.
Typically, plates and ingredients are described as ‘down to earth’– including plenty of leeks, potatoes, and onions, as well as other root vegetables. Give it a go with a traditional Danish Apple Pie.
Also, the Nordic nations are the biggest consumers of coffee on the planet, drinking on average up to 4 cups a day – this sets the stage for a strong coffee scene, which of course is reflected in their characteristic cooking practices. In true Danish custom, perhaps try that teacake with a coffee?
Contrary to popular belief, the Dutch cuisine is surprisingly diverse. As a world leader in agricultural exports, dairy, eggs, meat, and produce are in abundance. (So are tulips, but you can’t eat them.)
Simple, healthy eating has remained a hallmark of Dutch comestibles – locally-produced cheeses, unique seafood, and of course, many potato dishes are all staples in the Netherlands. There are also many traditional snacks and desserts that the Dutch are famed for – try our take on their Poffertjes, or mini pancakes to get started.
This of course, is just the beginning! European cuisine is beautiful, broad, and diverse – so, give your tastebuds a trip, broaden your horizons and be inspired by these cooks around the globe.
Bon Appetit! Or perhaps, in the spirit of the Danes, Velbekomme!