Every foodie would agree, there’s no better way to get the full European experience than chowing down on the local specialties in each and every country you visit. Of course, we have the typical tourist go-to meals to tick off the bucket list: pizza in Italy, crepes in France, waffles in Belgium… but let’s step up the game people! Find a traditional-looking restaurant and take a seat – here are a few deliciously authentic meals that you can’t pass up on your next Europe adventure.
Moussaka – Greece
It’s time to step away from the world-famous giros and souvlaki, and give something else on the menu a chance! Moussaka is often considered the national dish of Greece and once you taste it, you’ll see why. Think of it like a lasagne but without the pasta, and a tonne more flavour. It’s made with layers of eggplant and tomato, saucy ground meat (often lamb or beef), topped with Greek cheese, and baked to perfection. I’ll take two.
Tortilla de Patatas – Spain
This is a simple yet satisfying staple meal that you’ll find in any traditional restaurant in Spain. The tasty potato omelette is extremely popular with locals, but also the topic of heated debate; should it have onion, or no onion? Runny or dry? Order one and see what you get. Either way, we’re sure you’ll be happy with the result. Sometimes you’ll find smaller portions on tapas menus, and they’re great for sharing (or scoffing, no judgement here).
Wiener Schnitzel – Austria
Ok, this one is already well-known, but it’s so good it deserves another mention. If you go to Austria and don’t have a Wiener Schnitzel, did you even really travel? If you make a stop in Vienna, this is the place to try it out. The perfect schnitzel will have been thinned with a meat tenderiser, coated in flour, beaten eggs and breadcrumbs, and fried. You’ll be pleased with the size of them too – often they’re larger than your head. Served with a side of potato salad, you can’t go wrong with this one.
Halaszle (Fisherman’s Soup) – Hungary
If you’re a fan of spicy food and seafood, this one’s for you. If you didn’t think Hungary was typically known for its seafood you’d be right; but it’s a country of rivers and lakes, and the freshwater fish don’t go to waste in this popular broth. The bright red Fisherman’s Soup is prepared with carp, onions, and generous amounts of paprika to give it heat. You’ll usually be given some fresh white bread to go with it, to help mop up every last drop.
Francesinha – Portugal
If you’re going to have a sandwich, do it right. You’ll probably take one look at this massive meal and either laugh or drool; I’m not sure many people would have ever thought to try and include so much between two slices of bread. The Francesinha can be easily found in Porto, but not easily finished. Some call it “the gut buster” and you’re about to see why. A sandwich layered with pork, smoked sausage, bacon, a medium-rare beefsteak, topped with a fried egg and a tonne of cheesey sauce. If that wasn’t enough, it’s served with hot chips. This is the opposite of #cleaneating, but hey, you’re on holiday. Up for the challenge?
Hollandse Nieuwe Haring (Raw Herring) – Netherlands
Hey, keep an open mind here! Travel is all about new experiences, right? You can find this raw herring most commonly on the streets of Amsterdam, and it’s actually fresh and delicious. It’s served with sliced onions and pickle on the side, and it’s hugely popular with locals and brave tourists. Hint: apparently it’s traditionally eaten with a shot of a Dutch liquor called Jenever… I mean if the locals do it, it must be the way to go, right?
Raclette – Switzerland
The world is catching on to the heavenly Raclette. Though you’ll probably be able to find this cheesy goodness in many cities now as the trend spreads, it hails from the canton of Valais in southern Switzerland. The local cheese is grilled slowly until the top layer bubbles and melts, then is spread in generous layers over potatoes, onions, pickles, breads, mushrooms… That’s it, we’re moving to Switzerland.
Bigos – Poland
This hearty stew has been popular with Poles for centuries, and is usually enjoyed in the winter months to warm you up. Though the recipes differ from household to household, traditional Bigos will always have sauerkraut and some form of meat, like beef, pork, venison or veal. The English translation being “hunter’s stew”, this meal used to be pre-made and taken on long and exhausting hunting trips for energy. Luckily for you, you can skip that part.