The European Union: Bon appétit!

Saturday, July 8th, 2017 - 05:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination: | Category/Kategorie: Editorial, European Union, General, UNESCO World Heritage

While in the early part of the EU article series, the focus was on abstract, formal and sometimes somewhat dry topics, it now becomes cozy. Café d’Europe has already presented the most popular bakery products in the member states. This article is about what brings us all together: Food and drinks. As on all other topics, the member states are culinary very diverse (about 3,000 different varieties of bread, cheese, sausage, wine, beer each and a much, much higher number of different dishes). Therefore, let’s have a closer look at what is being eaten where. Bon appétit! :-)

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Wiener Schnitzel © Kobako/cc-by-sa-2.5

Wiener Schnitzel © Kobako/cc-by-sa-2.5

Austrian cuisine
Austrian cuisine is a style of cuisine native to Austria and composed of influences from throughout the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. Regional influences from Italian, Hungarian, Bohemian, German and the Balkan cuisine have had an effect on Austrian cooking, and in turn this fusion of styles was influential throughout the Empire. Austrian cuisine is most often associated with Viennese cuisine, but there are significant regional variations.

Snack food
For food consumed in between meals there are many types of open sandwiches called “belegte Brote”, or different kinds of sausage with mustard, ketchup and bread, as well as sliced sausage, Leberkäse rolls or Schnitzelsemmeln (rolls filled with schnitzel). Traditionally you can get a Wurstsemmel (a roll filled, usually, with Extrawurst a special kind of thinly sliced sausage, often with a slice of Cheese and a Pickle or Cornichon) at a Butcher or at the delicatessen counter in a supermarket. There are also other common yet informal delicacies that are typical of Austrian food. For example, the Bosna or Bosner (a spiced bratwurst in a hot dog roll), which is an integral part of the menu at Austria’s typical fast-food joint, the sausage stand (Würstelstand). Most Austrian sausages contain pork.

Lower Austria
In Lower Austria (Cuisine of Lower Austria), local delicacies such as Waldviertel poppies, Marchfeld asparagus and Wachau apricots are cultivated. Famous are the “Marillenknödel” small dumplings filled with apricots and warm butter-fried breadcrumbs on it. Their influence can be felt in the local cuisine, for example in poppy seed noodles Mohnnudeln. Game dishes are very common. Lower Austria is striking for the differences within its regional cuisine due to its size and the variety of its landscape.

Burgenland
Burgenland‘s cuisine has been influenced by Hungarian and Balkan cuisines owing to its former position within the Hungarian part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Dishes consist mainly of fish, chicken or pork. Potatoes are the most common side dish, for example, crushed potatoes with onions called “Greste Krumpian”(= Geröstete Kartoffeln coming from “geröstet”, roasted and the Hungarian term “krumpli” for potatoes). Because of Hungary’s Balkan influences, Burgenlandish dishes are often spicier than elsewhere in Austria, often indicated with the terms “Zigeuner…” (“Gypsy”) or “Serbisch…” (Serbian). Polenta is a popular side-dish within Burgenland’s Croatian minority. On St Martin’s Day (November 11) a Martinigans (St Martin’s goose) is often prepared, and carp is a typical Christmas dish.

Styria
In Styrian Buschenschanken (seasonal wine taverns), Verhackertes (a spread made from finely chopped raw bacon) is served. Schilcher, a very dry rosé, is the regional style of wine in West Styria. A typically Styrian delicacy is pumpkin seed oil, which lends itself particularly to salads on account of its nutty taste. Many varieties of pumpkin dish are also very popular. Heidensterz, resembling a dry, almost crumbly version of grits made from buckwheat flour, is a local dish enjoyed in cold weather (Styria cuisine).

Carinthia
Carinthia‘s many lakes mean that fish is a popular main course. Grain, dairy produce and meat are important ingredients in Carinthian cuisine. Carinthian Kasnudeln (noodle dough pockets filled with quark and mint) and smaller Schlickkrapfen (mainly with a meat filling) are well-known local delicacies. Klachlsuppe (pig’s trotter soup) and Reindling (yeast-dough pastry/cake filled with a mix of cinnamon, sugar and raisins) are also produced locally.

Upper Austria
Various types of dumpling are an important part of Upper Austrian cuisine, as they are in neighbouring Bavarian cuisine and Bohemian cuisine. Linzer Torte, a cake that includes ground almonds or nuts and redcurrant jam, is a popular dessert from the city of Linz, the capital of Upper Austria. “Linzeraugen” are fine, soft biscuits filled with redcurrant jam called “Ribiselmarmelade”, which has a sharp flavour.

Salzburg
Kasnocken (cheese dumplings) are a popular meal, as are freshwater fish, particularly trout, served in various ways. Salzburger Nockerl (a meringue-like dish) is a well-known local dessert (Dining: Eating out in Salzburg).

Tyrol
Tyrolean bacon and all sorts of dumplings including Speckknödel (dumplings with pieces of bacon) and Spinatknödel (made of spinach) are an important part of the local cuisine. Tyrolean cuisine is very simple because in earlier times Tyroleans were not very rich, farming on mountains and in valleys in the middle of the Alpine Region. Tyrolean food often contains milk, cheese, flour and lard.

Vorarlberg
The cuisine of Vorarlberg has been influenced by the Alemannic cuisine of neighbouring Switzerland and Swabia. Cheese and cheese products play a major role in the cuisine, with Käsknöpfle and Kässpätzle (egg noodles prepared with cheese) being popular dishes. Other delicacies include Krutspätzle (sauerkraut noodles), Käsdönnala (similar to a quiche), Schupfnudla (made from a dough mixing potato and flour), Frittatensuppe (pancake soup), Öpfelküachle (apple cake) and Funkaküachle (cake traditionally eaten on the first Sunday of Lent).

Coffee
Austria is credited in popular legend with introducing coffee to Europe after bags of coffee beans were left behind by the retreating Turkish army after the Battle of Vienna in 1683. Although the first coffeehouses had appeared in Europe some years earlier, the Viennese café tradition became an important part of the city’s identity. Coffee is served in a variety of styles, particularly in the Viennese cafés. An Austrian Mokka or kleiner Schwarzer is similar to espresso, but is extracted more slowly.

Wine
Wine is principally cultivated in the east of Austria. The most important wine-producing areas are in Lower Austria, Burgenland, Styria, and Vienna. The Green Veltliner grape provides some of Austria’s most notable white wines and Zweigelt is the most widely planted red wine grape. Southern Burgenland is a region that mainly grows red grapes while the “Seewinkel” area, east of the Lake Neusiedl has more mixed wine cultures but its specialty are the famous sweet wines. Wine is even grown within the city limits of Vienna – the only European capital where this is true – and some is even produced under the auspices of the city council. Young wine (i.e. wine produced from grapes of the most recent harvest whose alcoholic fermentation is not finished yet and is not separated yet from his yeast) is called Heuriger and gives its name to inns in Vienna and its surroundings, which serve Heuriger wine along with food. In Styria, Carinthia and Burgenland the Heuriger inns are known as Buschenschanken. Read more on Wikipedia Austrian cuisine.


Moules frites © Bloguer/cc-by-sa-4.0

Moules frites © Bloguer/cc-by-sa-4.0

Belgian cuisine
Belgian cuisine is widely varied with significant regional variations while also reflecting the cuisines of neighbouring France, Germany and the Netherlands. It is sometimes said that Belgian food is served in the quantity of German cuisine but with the quality of French food. Outside the country, Belgium is best known for its chocolate, waffles, fries and beer. Though Belgium has many distinctive national dishes, many internationally popular foods like hamburgers and spaghetti bolognese are also popular in Belgium, and most of what Belgians eat is also eaten in neighbouring countries. ‘Belgian cuisine’ therefore usually refers to dishes of Belgian origin, or those considered typically Belgian. Belgian cuisine traditionally prizes regional and seasonal ingredients. Ingredients typical in Belgian dishes include potatoes, leeks, grey shrimp, white asparagus, Belgian endives and local beer (UNESCO inscribed Belgian beer culture on their list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity in 2016), in addition to common European staples including meat, cheese and butter. Belgians typically eat three meals a day, with a light breakfast, medium or large-sized lunch and small dinner. Belgium has a plethora of dishes and products that are local to a specific area. Examples include waterzooi from Ghent, the couque biscuit from the town of Dinant, and tarte au riz from Verviers. While their local origins are acknowledged, most such dishes are enjoyed throughout Belgium.

Belgium is famed for its high quality chocolate and over 2,000 chocolatiers, both small and large. Belgium’s association with chocolate goes back as far as 1635 when the country was under Spanish occupation. By the mid 18th century, chocolate was extremely popular in upper and middle class circles, particularly in the form of hot chocolate, including with Charles-Alexander of Lorraine, the Austrian governor of the territory. From the early 20th century, the country was able to import large quantities of cocoa from its African colony, the Belgian Congo. Both the chocolate bar and praline are inventions of the Belgian chocolate industry. Today, chocolate is very popular in Belgium, with 172,000 tonnes produced each year, and widely exported. The composition of Belgian chocolate has been regulated by law since 1884. In order to prevent adulteration of the chocolate with low-quality fats from other sources, a minimum level of 35% pure cocoa was imposed. Adherence to traditional manufacturing techniques also serves to increase the quality of Belgian chocolate. In particular, vegetable-based fats are not used. Many firms produce chocolates by hand, which is laborious and explains the prevalence of small, independent chocolate outlets, which are popular with tourists. Famous chocolate companies, like Neuhaus and Guylian, strictly follow traditional (and sometimes secret) recipes for their products. Seafood pralines (pralines shaped like sea shells or fish) are popular with tourists and are sold all over Belgium.

Fries, deep-fried chipped potatoes, are very popular in Belgium, where they are thought to have originated. The earliest evidence of the dish comes from a book entitled Curiosités de la table dans les Pays-Bas-Belgiques written in 1781, which described how inhabitants of Namur, Dinant and Andenne around the Meuse River had eaten fried potatoes since around 1680. Though they are usually known as “French fries” in the United States, it is argued that American soldiers during the First World War erroneously believed that they were being served the dish in France. In Belgium, fries are sold at fast food stands or in dedicated fast-food restaurants called friteries, frietkot, or frituur (loosely: fry shack). They are often served with a variety of sauces and eaten either on their own or in the company of other snacks. Traditionally, they are served in a “cornet de frites” (French) or “puntzak” (Dutch), a cone-shaped white piece of cardboard then wrapped in a piece of paper, with the sauce on the top. Larger portions are often served in cardboard trays for practicality’s sake. Other street foods like frikandel, gehaktbal or croquette are sold alongside. In some cases, the fries are served in the form of a baguette sandwich along with their sauce and meat; this is known as a “mitraillette“. In areas with immigration, the same combination is also available in a wrap called a dürüm instead of on a baguette. The vast majority of Belgian households have a deep fryer, allowing them to make their own fries and other deep-fried foods at home. Supermarkets sell a range of liquid and solid animal- and plant-based fats for use in home deep fryers; beef fat is particularly prized.

Mayonnaise and ketchup are the sauces traditionally eaten with fries in Belgium. Friteries and other fast-food establishments tend to offer a number of different sauces for the fries and meats, including aioli and sauce Americaine but also much more elaborate varieties, including Béarnaise sauce. There are frequently over a dozen options, and most are mayonnaise-based.Occasionally warm sauces are offered by friteries, including Hollandaise sauce, sauce Provençale, Béarnaise sauce, or even a carbonade flamande. Most of the sauces are also readily available in supermarkets. The use of these sauces is not limited to fries; they are used on a variety of other dishes as well.

Jenever, also known as genièvre, genever, peket or Dutch gin, is the national spirit of Belgium from which gin evolved. While beer may be Belgium’s most famous alcoholic beverage, jenever has been the country’s traditional and national spirit for over 500 years. Jenever is a “Protected Product of Origin“, having received eleven different appellations or AOCs from the European Union, and can only be crafted in Belgium, the Netherlands and a few areas in France and Germany. Most of the jenever AOC’s are exclusive to Belgium making Belgian jenever (Belgian genever) one of the best-kept secrets in the liquor industry. For centuries jenever has been bottled in jugs handcrafted from clay. Its iconic shape is recognizable and unique to jenever. Traditionally the Belgians serve jenever in completely full shot glasses that have just been pulled from the freezer. The first step to drinking the jenever properly is to keep the glass on the table, bend down and take the first sip without holding the glass. Once this traditional first sip is completed one can drink the rest of the drink normally.

Appetizers

Savory dishes

Sweet dishes and desserts

Read more on Wikipedia Belgian cuisine.


Sunday roast - Roast beef, roast potatoes, carrots, broccoli, various other vegetables and Yorkshire pudding © flickr.com - Jeremy Keith/cc-by-2.0

Sunday roast – Roast beef, roast potatoes, carrots, broccoli, various other vegetables and Yorkshire pudding
© flickr.com – Jeremy Keith/cc-by-2.0

British cuisine
British cuisine is the specific set of cooking traditions and practices associated with the United Kingdom. British cuisine has been described as “unfussy dishes made with quality local ingredients, matched with simple sauces to accentuate flavour, rather than disguise it.” However, British cuisine has absorbed the cultural influence of those who have settled in Britain, producing many hybrid dishes, such as the Anglo-Indian chicken tikka masala. Celtic agriculture and animal breeding produced a wide variety of foodstuffs for indigenous Celts and Britons. Anglo-Saxon England developed meat and savoury herb stewing techniques before the practice became common in Europe. The Norman conquest introduced exotic spices into England in the Middle Ages. The British Empire facilitated a knowledge of India’s elaborate food tradition of “strong, penetrating spices and herbs”. Food rationing policies, put in place by the British government during wartime periods of the 20th century, are said to have been the stimulus for British cuisine’s poor international reputation. It has been claimed, contrary to popular belief, that people in southern England eat more garlic per head than the people of northern France. British cuisine has traditionally been limited in its international recognition to the full breakfast, fish and chips, and the Christmas dinner. Other British dishes include the Sunday roast, steak and kidney pie, shepherd’s pie, and bangers and mash. British cuisine has many regional varieties within the broader categories of English, Scottish and Welsh cuisine. Each has developed its own regional or local dishes, many of which are geographically indicated foods such as Cornish pasties, the Yorkshire pudding, Cumberland Sausage, Arbroath Smokie, and Welsh cakes.

Anglo-Indian cuisine
Some Anglo-Indian dishes (Balti) derive from traditional British cuisine, such as roast beef, modified by the addition of Indian-style spices, such as cloves and red chillies. Fish and meat are often cooked in curry form with Indian vegetables. Anglo-Indian food often involves use of coconut, yogurt, and almonds. Roasts and curries, rice dishes, and breads all have a distinctive flavour. Signs of curry’s popularity in Britain slowly became evident by the later 1960s and 1970s, when some establishments that originally catered almost exclusively to Indians gradually observed a diversifying clientele.

English cuisine
English cuisine encompasses the cooking styles, traditions and recipes associated with England. It has distinctive attributes of its own, but also shares much with wider British cuisine, partly through the importation of ingredients and ideas from North America, China, and India during the time of the British Empire and as a result of post-war immigration.

Northern Irish cuisine
The cuisine of Northern Ireland is largely similar to that of Ireland. In this region, the Ulster Fry is particularly popular.

Scottish cuisine
Scottish cuisine is the specific set of cooking traditions and practices associated with Scotland. It shares much with English cuisine, but has distinctive attributes and recipes of its own. Traditional Scottish dishes such as haggis and shortbread exist alongside international foodstuffs brought about by migration. Scotland is known for the high quality of its beef, lamb, potatoes, oats, and sea foods. In addition to foodstuffs, Scotland produces a variety of whiskies.

Welsh cuisine
Welsh cuisine has influenced, and been influenced by, other British cuisine. Although both beef and dairy cattle are raised widely, especially in Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire, Wales is best known for its sheep, and thus lamb is the meat traditionally associated with Welsh cooking.

Cuisines of overseas territories
Gibraltarian cuisine, Cayman Islands Cuisine, British Virgin Islands Cuisine, Bermudian cuisine, Falkland Islands Cuisine, Anguillian cuisine, Cuisine of Saint Helena, Pitcairn cuisine and Cuisine of Montserrat.


Bulgarian Kebap with Rice © Biso/cc-by-3.0

Bulgarian Kebap with Rice © Biso/cc-by-3.0

Bulgarian cuisine
Bulgarian cuisine is a representative of the cuisine of Southeastern Europe. It shares characteristics with the Balkans cuisines. Bulgarian cooking traditions are diverse because of geographical factors such as climatic conditions suitable for a variety of vegetables, herbs and fruit. Aside from the vast variety of local Bulgarian dishes, Bulgarian cuisine shares a number of dishes with the Russian, Italian, Greek cuisine and even Middle Eastern cuisines. Bulgarian food often incorporates salads as appetizers and is also noted for the prominence of dairy products, wines and other alcoholic drinks such as rakia. The cuisine also features a variety of soups, such as the cold soup tarator, and pastries, such as the filo dough based banitsa, pita and the various types of börek. Main courses are very typically water-based stews, either vegetarian or with lamb, goat meat, veal, chicken or pork. Deep-frying is not common, but grilling – especially different kinds of sausages – is very prominent. Pork is common, often mixed with veal or lamb, although fish and chicken are also widely used. While most cattle are bred for milk production rather than meat, veal is popular for grilling meats appetizers (meze) and in some main courses. As a substantial exporter of lamb, Bulgaria’s own consumption is notable, especially in the spring. Similarly to other Balkan cultures the per capita consumption of yogurt (Bulgarian: “sour milk”) among Bulgarians is traditionally higher than the rest of Europe. The country is notable as the historical namesake for Lactobacillus bulgaricus, a microorganism chiefly responsible for the local variety of the dairy product. Bulgarian cuisine shares a number of dishes with the Middle Eastern Cuisine as well as a limited number with the Indian, particularly Gujarat cuisine. The culinary exchange with the East started as early as the 7th century, when traders started bringing herbs and spices to the First Bulgarian Empire from India and Persia via the Roman and later Byzantine empires. This is evident from the wide popularity of dishes like moussaka, gyuvetch, kyufte and baklava, which are common in Middle Eastern cuisine today. White brine cheese called “sirene”, similar to feta, is also a popular ingredient used in salads and a variety of pastries. Holidays are often observed in conjecture with certain meals. On Christmas Eve, for instance, tradition requires vegetarian stuffed peppers and cabbage leaf sarmi, New Year’s Eve usually involves cabbage dishes, Nikulden (Day of St. Nicholas, December 6) fish (usually carp), while Gergyovden (Day of St. George, May 6) is typically celebrated with roast lamb. Read more on Wikipedia Bulgarian cuisine.


Lobster from Dalmatia © Jerzy Strzelecki/cc-by-3.0

Lobster from Dalmatia © Jerzy Strzelecki/cc-by-3.0

Croatian cuisine
Croatian cuisine is heterogeneous and is known as a cuisine of the regions, since every region of Croatia has its own distinct culinary tradition. Its roots date back to ancient times. The differences in the selection of foodstuffs and forms of cooking are most notable between those in mainland and those in coastal regions. Mainland cuisine is more characterized by the earlier Slavic and the more recent contacts with neighboring cultures, Hungarian and Turkish, using lard for cooking, and spices such as black pepper, paprika, and garlic. The coastal region bears the influences of the Greek and Roman cuisine, as well as of the later Mediterranean cuisine, in particular Italian (especially Venetian). Coastal cuisines use olive oil, and herbs and spices such as rosemary, sage, bay leaf, oregano, marjoram, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and lemon and orange rind. Peasant cooking traditions are based on imaginative variations of several basic ingredients (cereals, dairy products, meat, fish, vegetables) and cooking procedures (stewing, grilling, roasting, baking), while bourgeois cuisine involves more complicated procedures and use of selected herbs and spices. Charcuterie is part of Croatian tradition in all regions. Food and recipes from other former Yugoslav countries are also popular in Croatia. Croatian cuisine can be divided into a few regional cuisines (Istria, Dalmatia, Dubrovnik, Lika, Gorski Kotar, Zagorje, Međimurje, Podravina, Slavonija) which all have their specific cooking traditions, characteristic for the area and not necessarily well known in other parts of Croatia. Most dishes, however, can be found all across the country, with local variants. Pasta is one of the most popular food items in Croatian cuisine, especially in the region of Dalmatia. The so-called manistra na pome (pasta with tomato sauce) is a staple. The other popular sauces include creamy mushroom sauce, minced meat sauce and many others. Also, potato dough is popular, not only for making njoki (gnocchi), but also for making plum or cheese dumplings which are boiled, and then fried in breadcrumbs and butter. Also, salsa adds a bit of spice. Soup is an integral part of a meal in Croatia and no Sunday family meal or any special occasion will go without it. The most popular soups are broth based, with added pasta or semolina dumplings. They are usually light in order to leave space for the main course and dessert to follow. However, cream or roux based soups are also popular, and there are many local variations of traditional soups. In Dalmatia, one of the most loved ones is the fish soup with fish chunks, carrots and rice. Read more on Wikipedia Croatian cuisine.


Cypriot meze © flickr.com - Cyprus Tourism CH/cc-by-2.0

Cypriot meze © flickr.com – Cyprus Tourism CH/cc-by-2.0

Cypriot cuisine
Cypriot cuisine is the cuisine of Cyprus and is closely related to Greek and Turkish cuisine; it has also been influenced by Byzantine, French, Italian, Catalan, Ottoman and Middle Eastern cuisines. Frequently used ingredients are fresh vegetables such as zucchini, green peppers, okra, green beans, artichokes, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and grape leaves, and pulses such as beans (for fasolia), broad beans, peas, black-eyed beans, chick-peas and lentils. Pears, apples, grapes, oranges, Mandarin oranges, nectarines, mespila, blackberries, cherries, strawberries, figs, watermelon, melon, avocado, citrus, lemon, pistachio, almond, chestnut, walnut, hazelnut are some of the commonest of the fruits and nuts. The best-known spices and herbs include pepper, parsley, arugula, celery, fresh coriander (cilantro), thyme, and oregano. Traditionally, cumin and coriander seeds make up the main cooking aromas of the island. Mint is a very important herb in Cyprus. It grows abundantly, and locals use it for everything, particularly in dishes containing ground meat. For example, the Cypriot version of pastitsio (locally known as macaronia tou fournou) contains very little tomato and generous amounts of mint. The same is true of keftedes (meat balls, which are sometimes laced with mint to provide a contrast with the meat. Fresh coriander or cilantro (commonly known as kolyandro or kolliandros on the island) is another commonly used herb. It is often used in salads, olive breads, spinach pies (spanakopita) and other pastries. In some regions of the island it is also used to flavour hot dishes, particularly tomato-based ones, such as yiachnista. Meats grilled over charcoal are known as souvla, named after the skewers on which they are prepared. Most commonly these are souvlaki of pork or chicken and sheftalia, but grilled halloumi or hellim cheese, mushrooms and loukaniko (pork sausages) are also served. They are typically stuffed into a pita or wrapped in a thin flatbread, along with a salad of cabbage, parsley, and raw mild onions, tomatoes and sliced cucumber. Although less popular than souvlaki and sheftalia, Gyros is commonly eaten. Gyros is grilled meat slices instead of chunks, and the taste is made different by the salad or dressings added. It is made from various cuts of lamb, pork, or occasionally chicken, and very rarely beef. Pourgouri, the Cypriot name for bulgur, is the traditional carbohydrate other than bread. It is steamed with tomato and onion; a few strands of vermicelli pasta are often added to provide a texture contrast. Along with pourgouri, natural yogurt is a staple. Wheat and yogurt come together in the traditional peasant meal of tarhana/trahanas, a way of preserving milk in which the cracked wheat is steamed, mixed with sour milk, dried, and stored. Small amounts reheated in water or broth provide a nourishing and tasty meal, especially with added cubes of aged halloumi. Pourgouri is also used to make koupes, the Cypriot form of kibbeh, where the pourgouri is mixed with flour and water to form a dough, which is formed into a cigar shape. A hollow is made through the cigar and a mixture of minced meat, onions, parsley and cinnamon is packed. After sealing the meat mixture inside the cigar they are deep-fried before serving with lemon juice. For Greek Cypriots, there are many fasting days defined by the Orthodox Church, and though not everyone adheres, many do. On these days, effectively all animal products must not be consumed. Pulses are eaten instead, sometimes cooked in tomato sauce (yiahni in Greek) but more usually simply prepared and dressed with olive oil and lemon. On some days, even olive oil is not allowed. These meals often consist of raw onion, raw garlic, and dried red chili is munched along with these austere dishes to add a variety of taste, though this practice is dying out.

Seafood
Popular seafood dishes include calamari, octopus, cuttlefish, red mullet (parpouni/barbun), sea bass (lavraki/levrek), and gilt-head bream (çipura). Octopus, due to its peculiar taste and texture, is made into a stiffado (stew) with red wine, carrots, tomatoes, and onions. Calamari is either cut into rings and fried in batter or is stuffed whole with rice, cumin, cloves, sometimes adding mint to the stuffing, and then baked or grilled. Cuttlefish (soupies) may be cooked like calamari or like octopus in red wine with onions. It is sometimes prepared with spinach, but without adding garden peas, which are a popular accompaniment for cuttlefish in Turkey (specially in west and south coast), some parts of Greece, and Italy. Calamari, octopus, and cuttlefish commonly feature in meze, a spread of small dishes served as an extensive set of entrées. The most traditional fish is salt cod, which up until very recently was baked in the outdoor beehive ovens with potatoes and tomatoes in season. Gilt-head bream is popular because it is relatively inexpensive and like sea bass extensively farmed. Until recently, salted herrings bought whole out of wooden barrels were a staple food. They are still enjoyed, but not as much now, as fresh fish and meat are regular alternatives. Many fish restaurants also include in the fish meze a variety of different food which include fish, for example fish souffle and fish croquettes.

Vegetables
Cyprus potatoes are long and waxy with a unique taste, exported internationally. Locals love them baked in the oven, preferably the outdoor beehive fourni. Many Cypriots add salt, cumin, oregano, and some finely sliced onion. When they barbecue, some Cypriots put potatoes into foil and sit them in the charcoal to make them like jacket potatoes – served with butter or as a side dish to salad and meat. Salad vegetables are eaten at every meal, sometimes whole. More often, they are prepared chopped, sliced, and dressed with lemon and olive oil. In the summer, the usual salad is of celery leaves and stalks, parsley, coriander leaves, tomatoes, and cucumber. Summer purslane (glystridha) is very popular as are wild dandelion leaves. In the early spring, artichokes are in season. Cypriots eat the leaves by detaching and biting off the fleshy base. A common preparation for the stalks and the heart is braised with garden peas, with a little onion and perhaps a chopped tomato. Meat is sometimes added. Bamies (okra or ladies’ fingers) are baked in the oven with tomato and oil, and kounoupidhi (cauliflower) is also given this treatment. Cauliflower is also made into moungra, a sour pickle covered with a marinade of vinegar, yeast, and mustard seeds. It is also cooked in tomato sauce, onions and mince meat. Vazania/patlican (aubergines) can be prepared in a variety of ways, including stuffed and in moussaka. They are commonly fried and stewed slowly in oil, where the cooking time brings out the flavour and also allows them to shed the oil they have absorbed. Turkish Cypriots hollow them, fry them, stuff them with tomatoes and garlic or mince meat and tomato paste, cook them in the oven and garnish with parsley.

Meat
Prior to Cyprus’ urbanisation, Cypriots traditionally ate fresh meat on weekends. This was usually a boiled chicken, served with a starch (usually pasta or pourgouri) cooked in its juices. This would stretch the meat to enable the whole family to eat. Other fresh meat dishes were only enjoyed occasionally, sometimes en masse as a feast such as a wedding. Now, as people are better off and meat is widely available, traditional meat dishes are enjoyed frequently. Afelia, when well prepared, is a saute of pork, red wine, and coriander seeds. Psito is large chunks of meat and potatoes cooked in the oven. Plenty of fat is used in its preparation; traditionally, this would have been rendered pig fat, but now sunflower oil is used. Olive oil is used as a dressing for salads, vegetables, and pulses but is not used to cook meat dishes. Preserved pork is very popular, and before refrigeration, it was the main source of red meat available to Cypriots. Before refrigeration became widespread in the 19th century it was tradition to throw away the preserved pork in summertime. Cypriots also add red wine; therefore, there is a characteristic flavour to most of the charcuterie from the island. Lountza is made from the pork tenderloin. After the initial brining and marinading in wine, it is smoked. Although it can be aged, many prefer younger, milder lountza. It is often cooked over coals or fried with eggs to act as a sandwich filler or as part of a meze. Stronger than lountza and made from the leg, is chiromeri, which is similar to any smoked, air-dried ham from Southern Europe, although the wine flavour makes it characteristically Cypriot. In non-mountain areas, the same meat used for chiromeri is cut into strips along the muscle compartments and dried in the sun as basta. The shoulder of a freshly slaughtered animal is cut into chunks about the size of an almond along with a smaller quantity of chopped back fat, which are marinated in wine and brined, stuffed into intestines, and smoked as sausages (loukaniko). A traditional practice that is dying out fast is to render pig fat for use as a cooking medium and a preservative. Loukaniko and also chunks of fried salted pork meat and fat can be stored in earthenware jars submerged in the lard for a long time, even in the heat of the island. Lamb and goat meat is also preserved as samarella, made very salty to prevent the fatty lamb meat from going rancid. Very popular amongst both communities is preserved beef. The whole silversides and briskets are salted and spiced quite powerfully to make pastourma/bastirma. The same meat and some fat is chopped finely and made into pastourma-loukaniko sausages. Many Cypriots consider snails a delicacy. Snails are in season in late autumn, when the first good rains arrive after the hot summer. The most popular way to prepare snails is to barbecue them. Another popular variation is to cook them with onions, garlic and tomatoes. More controversially, the Cypriot dish of ambelopoulia, though strictly illegal, is still widely enjoyed.

Meze
Mezedes is a large selection of dishes with small helpings of varied foods, brought to the table as a progression of tastes and textures. The meal begins with black and green olives, tahini, skordalia (potato and garlic dip), humus, taramosalata (fish roe dip), and tzatziki/çaçık (ttalattouri in Cypriot), all served with chunks of fresh bread and a bowl of mixed salad. Some of the more unusual meze dishes include octopus in red wine, snails in tomato sauce, brains with pickled capers, samarella (salted dried meat), quails, pickled quail eggs, tongue, kappari pickles (capers), and moungra (pickled cauliflower). Bunches of greens, some raw, some dressed with lemon juice and salt, are a basic feature of the meze table. The meal continues with fish, grilled halloumi cheese, lountza (smoked pork tenderloin), keftedes (minced meatballs), sheftalia (pork rissoles), and loukaniko (pork sausages). Hot grilled meats – kebabs, lamb chops, chicken – may be served toward the end. The dessert is usually fresh fruit or glyka – traditional sugar-preserved fruits and nuts.

Desserts
Loukoumades (fried doughballs in syrup), loukoum, ravani, tulumba and baklava are well-known local desserts. There are also pastiș, cookies made of ground almonds, that are offered to guests at weddings. Flaounes are savoury Easter pastries that contain goats cheese (or a variety of cheeses), eggs, spices and herbs all wrapped in a yeast pastry, then brushed with egg yolk and dipped into sesame seeds. Cypriots also make many traditional sweets that are usually made of turunch/ bergamot, figs, tiny aubergines, fresh fleshy walnuts, watermelon or pumpkins processed akin to jam but without the over-cooking. The fruit is soaked for two weeks (depending upon the fruit) then boiled with sugar until the correct texture is obtained. Read more on Wikipedia Cypriot cuisine.


Traditional Bohemian platter © JIP/cc-by-sa-3.0

Traditional Bohemian platter © JIP/cc-by-sa-3.0

Bohemian cuisine (Czech Republic)
Czech cuisine has both influenced and been influenced by the cuisines of surrounding countries. Many of the cakes and pastries that are popular in Central Europe originated within the Czech lands. Contemporary Czech cuisine is more meat-based than in previous periods; the current abundance of farmable meat has enriched its presence in regional cuisine. Traditionally, meat has been reserved for once-weekly consumption, typically on weekends. The body of Czech meals typically consists of two or more courses; the first course is traditionally soup, the second course is the main dish, and the third course can include supplementary courses, such as dessert or compote (kompot). In Czech cuisine, thick soups and many kinds of sauces, both based on stewed or cooked vegetables and meats, often with cream, as well as baked meats with natural sauces (gravies), are popular dishes.

Side dishes
Dumplings (knedlíky) (steamed and sliced bread-like) are one of the mainstays of Czech cuisine and are typically served with meals. They can be either wheat or potato-based, and are sometimes made from a combination of wheat flour and dices made of stale bread or rolls. Puffed rice can be found in store-prepared mixtures. Smaller Czech dumplings are usually potato-based. When served as leftovers, sliced dumplings are sometimes pan-fried with eggs. Czech potato dumplings are often filled with smoked meat and served with spinach or sour cabbage. Fried onion and braised cabbage can be included as a side dish. There are many other side dishes, including noodles (nudle) and boiled or risotto rice (rýže or rizoto), which is sometimes served in the form of rice pudding (rýžový nákyp). Potatoes (brambory) are served boiled with salt, often with caraway seed and butter, pork fat or oil. Peeled and boiled potatoes are mixed into mashed potatoes (bramborová kaše). New potatoes are sometimes boiled in their skins, not peeled, from harvest time to new year. Because of the influence of foreign countries, potatoes are also fried, so French fries and croquettes are common in restaurants. Buckwheat (pohanka), pearl barley (kroupy) and millet grains (jáhly) are rarely served in restaurants. These are more commonly a home-cooked, healthier alternative. Pasta (těstoviny) is common, either baked, boiled, cooked with other ingredients or served as a salad. Pasta is available in different shapes and flavours. This is an influence of Italian and Asian cuisine. Rice and buckwheat noodles are not common, but are becoming more popular. Gluten-free pasta is also available, made from corn flour, corn starch or potatoes.

Breads and pastries
Bread (chléb or chleba) is traditionally sourdough baked from rye and wheat, and is flavoured with salt, caraway seed (kmín), onion, garlic, seeds, or pork crackling. It is eaten as an accompaniment to soups and dishes. It is also the material for Czech croutons and for topinky—slices of bread fried in a pan on both sides and rubbed with garlic. Rolls (rohlík), buns (žemle), and braided buns (houska) are the most common forms of bread eaten for breakfast; these are often topped with poppy seeds and salt or other seeds. A bun or a roll baked from bread dough is called a dalamánek. A sweet roll or loupák is a crescent-shaped roll made from sweetened dough containing milk. It is smeared with egg and sprinkled with poppy seeds before baking, giving it a golden-brown colour.

Soups
Soup (polévka, colloquially polívka) plays an important role in Czech cuisine. Soups commonly found in Czech restaurants are beef, chicken or vegetable broth with noodles—optionally served with liver or nutmeg dumplings; garlic soup (česnečka) with croutons—optionally served with minced sausage, raw egg, or cheese; and cabbage soup (zelňačka) made from sauerkraut—sometimes served with minced sausage. Kyselica is a Wallachian variety and contains sour cream, bacon, potatoes, eggs and sausage. Pea (hrachovka), bean (fazolová) and lentil soups (čočková polévka) are commonly cooked at home. Goulash soup (gulášovka) and dršťková are made from beef or pork tripe (dršťky) cut into small pieces and cooked with other ingredients; the meat can be substituted with oyster mushrooms. Potato soup (bramboračka) is made from potato, onion, carrot, root parsley and celeriac, spiced with caraway seed, garlic and marjoram. Fish soup (rybí polévka) made with carp is a traditional Christmas meal. Other common Czech soups are champignon or other mushroom soup (houbová polévka), tomato soup (rajská polévka), vegetable soup (zeleninová polévka), onion soup (cibulačka) and bread soup (chlebová polévka). Kulajda is a traditional South Bohemian soup containing water, cream, spices, mushrooms, egg (often a quail’s egg), dill and potatoes. It is typical in its thickness, white color and characteristic taste. The main ingredient is mushrooms, which gives it the dish’s scent. Kyselo is a regional specialty soup made from rye sourdough, mushrooms, caraway and fried onion.

Dishes
Traditional Czech dishes are made from animals, birds or fish bred in the surrounding areas. Pork is the most common meat, making up over half of all meat consumption. Beef, veal and chicken are also popular. Pigs are often a source of meals in the countryside, since pork has a relatively short production time, compared to beef. Jitrnice is the meat and offal of pork cut into tiny pieces, filled in a casing and closed with sticks. Meat from the neck, sides, lungs, spleen, and liver are cooked with white pastry, broth, salt, spices, garlic and sometimes onions. Klobása, known as Kielbasa in the United States, is a smoked meat sausage-like product made from minced meat. It is spicy and durable. Jelito is a pork meat sausage-like product containing pork blood and pearl barley or pastry pieces. Tlačenka is a meat or poultry product consisting of little pieces of meat in jelly/aspic from connective tissue boiled to mush, served with onion, vinegar and bread. Ovar is a simple meal from rather fatty pork meat (head or knuckle). These pieces of lower quality meat are boiled in salted water. Pork crackling (škvarky) and bacon (slanina) are also eaten. Read more on Wikipedia Czech cuisine.


Mixed fish platter © Wolfgang Sauber/cc-by-sa-3.0

Mixed fish platter © Wolfgang Sauber/cc-by-sa-3.0

Danish cuisine
Danish cuisine, originating from the peasant population’s own local produce, was enhanced by cooking techniques developed in the late 19th century and the wider availability of goods after the Industrial Revolution. The open sandwiches, known as smørrebrød, which in their basic form are the usual fare for lunch, can be considered a national speciality when prepared and decorated with a variety of fine ingredients. Hot meals are traditionally prepared from ground meats, such as frikadeller (meat balls) and medisterpølse, or from more substantial meat and fish dishes such as flæskesteg (roast pork with crackling) or kogt torsk (poached cod) with mustard sauce and trimmings. Denmark is known for its Carlsberg and Tuborg beers and for its akvavit and bitters, but amongst the Danes themselves imported wine has gained in popularity since the 1960s. Cooking in Denmark has always been inspired by foreign and continental practises and the use of imported tropical spices like cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and black pepper can be traced to the Danish cuisine of the Middle Ages and some even to the Vikings. In recent years, some Danish chefs have developed the New Danish cuisine, an innovative way of cooking based on high-quality local produce. This new philosophy and cuisine has attracted the attention of and been celebrated by the international gourmet community and contributed to the considerable number of highly acclaimed restaurants in Copenhagen and the province, with some of them awarded Michelin stars.

New Danish cuisine
Danish cuisine has also taken advantage of the possibilities inherent in traditional recipes, building on the use of local products and techniques that have not been fully exploited. Products such as rapeseed, oats, cheeses and older varieties of fruits are being rediscovered and prepared in new ways both by restaurants and at home as interest in organic foods continues to grow. The Nordic Council‘s agricultural and food ministers have supported these developments in the form of a manifesto designed to encourage the use of natural produce from the Nordic countries in the food production industry while promoting the “purity, freshness, simplicity and ethics” associated with the region’s cuisine.

Main meals
Most Danes have three regular meals a day, usually consisting of a cold breakfast with coffee or tea, a cold lunch at work and a hot dinner at home with the family. Some also have a snack in the middle of the afternoon or in the late evening. Meat, especially pork, is by far the most common ingredient of hot meals. It is usually accompanied by potatoes and sometimes by another vegetable such as carrots or lettuce. Most hot meals consist of only one course: starters are fairly rare but desserts such as ice cream or fruit are a little more frequent. Beer and wine are fairly common drinks at mealtimes but so are soft drinks, plain water and, to a lesser extent, milk and coffee. Many families follow the old traditions. Mothers and fathers cook together and teach their children how to cook. Meals form an important part of family life, allowing for socializing and contributing to the sense of the well-being and coziness known as hygge.

Breakfast
The basic Danish breakfast consists of coffee and rye bread, white bread, or rolls with cheese or jam. Bread at breakfast time most often comes in the form of a white loaf known as franskbrød (French bread), a baguette, or a variety of white or brown rolls (boller, birkes, rundstykker, håndværkere) or croissants. The bread is usually buttered and topped with soft or creamy cheese, sausage, pâté, cured cold meat or jam. On festive gatherings or when time permits, as on Sundays, for example, a variety of bread rolls can be included as well as wienerbrød, as Danish pastry is known in Denmark. Fruit juice, mostly orange or apple, and sometimes a bitter such as Gammel Dansk, may also be served, especially when breakfast is served to guests or on special occasions and celebrations like birthdays and anniversaries. In Danish hotels, soft-boiled eggs and cold meats are usually served for breakfast, too. On weekdays, various cereals such as corn flakes, muesli or rolled oats are often served for breakfast with just cold milk and sugar. Soured milk products are popular, too, and are served either plain or with cereals or fruit. The typical local soured milk product of ymer is topped with ymerdrys, a mixture of dried grated rye bread and brown sugar. Porridges such as oatmeal and a traditional local porridge called Øllebrød are also popular on work days. Øllebrød, a thin porridge cooked with bits of rye bread, hvidtøl, water, and sugar, and served with milk or sometimes whipped cream, is gaining in popularity as reflected on the breakfast menus of many cafés.

Lunch
Rather than eating at home, most Danes have a quick lunch at work or school either in the cafeteria, if there is one, or more often in the form of a packed lunch or madpakke prepared before they leave home. Lunch is usually a cold meal consisting of a few simply prepared pieces of smørrebrød (often referred to as håndmad, ie hand-food) with slices of cold meat, sliced sausage or hard boiled egg. Leverpostej, a liver pâté prepared from pig’s liver and lard, is also frequently used as a spread.

Dinner
For the average family, dinner is the one meal of the day where everyone can be gathered, due to the pressures of the modern life where both parents are likely to work, and the children are in school or pre-school institutions. Dinner usually consists of just one main course, often a meat dish with potatoes and a vegetable or salad. Starters are seldom served at home. If there is a dessert, it is likely to be ice cream or a fruit dish. Much more elaborate dinners are served on weekends, special occasions or when guests have been invited. Confusingly, the evening meal is sometimes called middag (midday) because hot meals were formerly served in the middle of the day. The variety of evening meals has developed as a result of the increasing availability of foods from supermarkets as well as the development and growth of the local food industry. As a result of American influence, there is now considerable interest in barbecues, salad buffets and ready-to-serve dishes. Italian-inspired preparations including pizza and pasta have also become common options. Meat is increasingly popular, pork still remaining the most frequently served. Cuts are often prepared in the frying pan and accompanied by brown gravy and potatoes.

Open sandwiches
Smørrebrød (originally smør og brød, meaning “butter and bread”) usually consists of a piece of buttered rye bread (rugbrød), a dense, dark brown bread. Pålæg (meaning put-on, actually “that which is laid on [the bread]”), the topping, then among others can refer to commercial or homemade cold cuts, pieces of meat or fish, cheese or spreads. More elaborate, finely decorated varieties have contributed to the international reputation of the Danish open sandwich or smørrebrød. A slice or two of pålæg is placed on the buttered bread and decorated with the right accompaniments to create a tasty and visually appealing food item. Read more on Wikipedia Danish cuisine.


Herring dish © Jpatokal/cc-by-sa-4.0

Herring dish © Jpatokal/cc-by-sa-4.0

Dutch cuisine
The country’s cuisine is shaped by its location in the fertile North Sea river delta of the European Plain, giving rise to fishing, farming (for crops and domesticated animals), and trading over sea (colonialism and the spice trade). Traditionally, Dutch cuisine is simple and straightforward, with many vegetables and little meat: breakfast and lunch are typically bread with toppings like cheese, while dinner is meat and potatoes, supplemented with seasonal vegetables. The diet contains many dairy products and was relatively high in carbohydrates and fat, reflecting the dietary needs of the laborers whose culture molded the country. Without many refinements, it is best described as rustic, though many holidays are celebrated with special foods. During the twentieth century, Dutch cuisine and diet changed. Influenced by the eating culture of its colonies (particularly the Dutch East Indies), it became more cosmopolitan and most international cuisines are represented in the major cities. Modern culinary writers distinguish between three general regional forms of Dutch cuisine.

Northeastern cuisine
The regions in the north and east of the Netherlands, roughly the provinces of Groningen, Friesland, Drenthe, Overijssel and Gelderland north of the great rivers make up north eastern Dutch cuisine. The region is the least populated area of the Netherlands. The late (18th century) introduction of large scale agriculture means that the cuisine is generally known for its many kinds of meats. The relative lack of farms allowed for an abundance of game and husbandry, though dishes near the coastal regions of Friesland, Groningen and the parts of Overijssel bordering the IJsselmeer also include a large amount of fish. The various dried sausages, belonging to the metworst-family of Dutch sausages, are found throughout the region and are highly prized for their often very strong taste. Most towns and various villages have their own variety of this sausage. The region also produces the traditional smoked sausages, of which (Gelderse) rookworst is the most renowned. These sausages traditionally have been smoked over wood chips, and are served after they have been boiled in water. The sausage contains a lot of fat and is very juicy. Larger sausages are often eaten alongside stamppot, hutspot or zuurkool (sauerkraut); whereas smaller ones are often eaten as a street food. The provinces are also home to rye bread (a kind of Pumpernickel) and many kinds of pastries and cookies. In contrast to southern Dutch cuisine, which tends to be soft and moist, the northeastern rye bread and pastries generally are of a hard texture, and the pasties are heavily spiced with ginger or succade or contain small bits of meat. Various kinds of Kruidkoek (such as Groninger koek), Fryske dúmkes and spekdikken (small savory pancakes cooked in a waffle iron) are considered typical. Each of the provinces of Gelderland, Overijssel and Groningen has a long-standing rye bread tradition, but rye bread from Friesland became well known because of its taste. Notable characteristics of Fries roggebrood (Frisian rye bread) is its long baking time (up to 20 hours), resulting in a sweet taste and a deep dark colour. In terms of alcoholic beverages, the region is renowned for its many bitters (such as Beerenburg) and other high-proof liquors rather than beer, which is, apart from Jenever, typical for the rest of the country. As a coastal region, Friesland is home to low-lying grasslands, and thus has a cheese production in common with the Western cuisine. Friese Nagelkaas (Friesian Clove) is a notable example.

Western cuisine
The provinces of North Holland, South Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht and the Gelderlandic region of Betuwe are the parts of the Netherlands which make up the region in which western Dutch cuisine is found. Due to the abundance of surface water and grassland, necessary to sustain dairy cattle, the area is known for its many dairy products, which includes prominent cheeses such as Gouda, Leyden (spiced cheese with cumin), Edam (traditionally in small spheres) as well as Leerdammer and Beemster. Zeeland and South Holland produce a lot of butter, which contains a larger amount of milkfat than most other European butter varieties. A by-product of the butter-making process, karnemelk (buttermilk), is also considered typical for this region. Seafood such as soused herring, mussels (called Zeeuwse Mossels, since all Dutch mussels for consumption are cleaned in Zeeland’s Oosterschelde), eels, oysters and shrimps are widely available and typical for the region. Kibbeling, once a local delicacy consisting of small chunks of battered white fish, has become a national fast food, just as lekkerbekje. Pastries in this area tend to be quite doughy, and often contain large amounts of sugar; either caramelised, powdered or crystallised. The oliebol (in its modern form) and Zeeuwse bolus are good examples. Cookies are also produced in great number and tend to contain a lot of butter and sugar, like stroopwafel, as well as a filling of some kind, mostly almond, like gevulde koek. Zaanstreek in North Holland is known for its chocolate industry, due to the development of the Dutch process chocolate In 1828 by Coenraad van Houten, that introduced the modern era of chocolate and was instrumental in the transformation of chocolate to its solid form which was up till than drank as a liquid. Zaanstreek is since the 16th century also known for its mayonnaise (for the Dutch a popular condiment to eat with French fries), and typical whole-grain mustards (popular to eat with bitterbal). The traditional alcoholic beverages of this region are beer (strong pale lager) and Jenever, a high proof juniper-flavored spirit, that came to be known in England as gin. A noted exception within the traditional Dutch alcoholic landscape, Advocaat, a rich and creamy liqueur made from eggs, sugar and brandy, is also native to this region.

Southern cuisine
Southern Dutch cuisine constitutes the cuisine of the Dutch provinces of North-Brabant and Limburg and the Flemish Region in Belgium. It is renowned for its many rich pastries, soups, stews and vegetable dishes and is often called Burgundian which is a Dutch idiom invoking the rich Burgundian court which ruled the Low Countries in the Middle Ages renowned for its splendor and great feasts. It is the only Dutch culinary region which developed an haute cuisine and it forms the base of most traditional Dutch restaurants including typical main courses served such as Biefstuk, Varkenshaas, Ossenhaas, these are premium cuts of meat, generally pork or beef, accompanied by a wide variety of sauces and potatoes which have been double fried in the traditional Dutch (or Belgian) manner. Stews, such as hachee, a stew of onions, beef and a thick gravy, contain a lot of flavour and require hours to prepare. Vegetable soups are made from richly flavored stock or bouillon and typically contain small meatballs alongside a wide variety of different vegetables. Asparagus and witlo(o)f are highly prized and traditionally eaten with cheese or ham. Pastries are abundant, often with rich fillings of cream, custard or fruits. Cakes, such as the Vlaai from Limburg and the Moorkop and Bossche Bol from Brabant, are typical pastries. Savoury pastries also occur, with the worstenbroodje (a roll with a sausage of ground beef, literally translates into sausage bread) being the most popular. The traditional alcoholic beverage of the region is beer. There are many local brands, ranging from Trappist to Kriek. 5 of the 11 International Trappist Association recognised breweries in the world, are located in the Southern Dutch cultural area. Beer, like wine in French cuisine, is also used in cooking; often in stews.

Colonial influences
Indonesian and Indo dishes became popular due to the arrival of former Dutch colonials and people of Eurasian descent into the Netherlands, especially after the independence of Indonesia from Dutch colonial rule in 1949. Countess van Limburg Stirum writes in her book The Art of Dutch Cooking (1962): “There exist countless Indonesian dishes, some of which take hours to prepare; but a few easy ones have become so popular that they can be regarded as ‘national dishes'”. She then provides recipes for nasi goreng (fried rice), pisang goreng (fried bananas), lumpia goreng (fried spring rolls), bami (fried noodles), satay (grilled skewered meat), satay sauce (peanut sauce), and sambal oelek (chilli paste). Of the Dutch-Indonesian fusion dishes the best known is the rijsttafel (“Rice table”), which is an elaborate meal consisting of many (up to several dozens) small dishes (hence filling “an entire table”). While popular in the Netherlands, Rijsttafel is now rare in Indonesia itself, while almost every town in the Netherlands has an Indonesian-Chinese restaurant. A popular fusion dish is friet saté or patatje pinda, French fries with satay sauce as condiment, served at snack bars. Surinamese cuisine is also popular in the Netherlands, especially in the bigger cities. Surinamese establishments commonly offer roti, a staple of the Hindustani community in Suriname, various Surinamese interpretations of Chinese Indonesian cuisine, as well as Surinamese sandwiches (Surinaamse broodjes).

International influences
Italian and American style pizzerias have become widespread. In recent decades, Arab and Turkish dishes have become increasingly popular as well, especially as a snack food. In larger towns and cities, small restaurants selling kebab, Shawarma and falafel can be found on virtually any street corner. Nowadays, food from every nook or corner of the world can be found throughout the country, especially in bigger towns and cities, including Greek, Thai, Japanese and even African cuisine. Read more on Wikipedia Dutch cuisine.


Pork with sauerkraut © Biso/cc-by-3.0

Pork with sauerkraut © Biso/cc-by-3.0

Estonian cuisine
Traditional Estonian cuisine has substantially been based on meat and potatoes, and on fish in coastal and lakeside areas, but now bears influence from many other cuisines, including a variety of international foods and dishes, with a number of contributions from the traditions of nearby countries. Scandinavian, German, Russian, Latvian, Lithuanian and other influences have played their part. The most typical foods in Estonia have been rye bread, pork, potatoes and dairy products. Estonian eating habits have historically been closely linked to the seasons. In terms of staples, Estonia belongs firmly to the beer, vodka, rye bread and pork “belt” of Europe.

Cold table
The first course in traditional Estonian cuisine is based on cold dishes—a selection of meats and sausages served with potato salad or rosolje, an Estonian signature dish, almost identical to Swedish sillsallad, based on beetroot, potatoes and herring. Small pastries called pirukad (“pirukas” in the singular)—a relative of the pirozhki—filled with meat, cabbage, carrots, rice and other fillings or mixtures are also popular, and are often served with bouillion. Herring is common among other fish as a part of the Estonian cold table. Smoked or marinated eel, crayfish dishes, and imported crabs and shrimps are considered delicacies. One of Estonia’s national dishes is räim (Baltic dwarf herring), along with sprats. Flounder, perch and pike-perch are also popular.

Soups
Soups may be eaten before the main course, but traditionally form the main meal and most often are made of meat or chicken stock mixed with a variety of vegetables. Soups are also blended with sour cream, milk and yogurt. A unique form of Estonian soup is leivasupp, which is a type of sweet soup that is made of black bread and apples, normally served with sour cream or whipped cream, often seasoned with cinnamon and sugar.

Main course
Black rye bread accompanies almost every savory food in Estonia. Instead of wishing “bon appetit”, Estonians are prone to say jätku leiba (“may your bread last”). Estonians continue to value their varieties of black rye-based bread. Estonia has not been a land of plenty. If a piece of bread was dropped on the floor, it was good form to pick it up, kiss it to show respect, and eat it.

Desserts
Specific desserts include kissel, curd snack and kama. Other common Estonian desserts are mannavaht (a cream made of semoline and juice or fruit), kohupiimakreem (creamy curd) or kompott. Rabarbari pies are also a favorite. Another popular dessert is kringle (Estonian: kringel), a sweet yeast bread often flavored with cardamom.

Drinks
A traditionally popular drink called kali, similar to Russian kvass, is becoming more popular again. Mead or mõdu, the drink that was most popular in ancient times, has almost completely disappeared. Nowadays, locally brewed beer is the number one choice to accompany food; different juices or simply water being the main non-alcoholic choice. Wine is widely drunk, and although it is still not as popular as beer, it is becoming all the more common. There are also Estonian fruit wines made of apples or different berries. Milk is also widely drunk by children as well as adults. Estonians are also proud of their vodka and other spirits, such as the herbal liquer Vana Tallinn. Two of Estonia’s oldest breweries are A. Le Coq, founded in 1807, and Saku Brewery, founded in 1820. Other dairy products besides milk (Estonian: piim) include keefir and also hapupiim and pett, which are variations on the theme of buttermilk.

Summer and spring
Traditionally in summer and spring, Estonians like to eat everything fresh—berries, herbs, vegetables and everything else that comes straight from the garden. Hunting and fishing were common in the history. Nowadays, they have remained as popular pastimes. It is popular to barbecue in the summer.

Winter and Christmas
During the winter months, jam, preserves and pickles are brought to the table. During the past, when the economy was largely agricultural, the gathering and conserving of fruits, mushrooms and vegetables for winter was essential. Today, gathering and conserving is less common because almost everything can be bought from stores, but preparing food for winter is still very popular in the countryside and continues to retain its charm for many, as opposed to the commercialization of eating habits. Upholding of traditions is important to many. Black pudding, head cheese, and sauerkraut with oven-roasted potatoes have been part of the traditional Estonian menu that nowadays are mostly Christmas specialties. Also, typical Christmas treats have been apples, Mandarin oranges and gingerbread.

Modern Estonian cuisine
Many influences have nudged modern Estonian eating into more diverse and open directions. Early influences that diversified the eating experience came through the Hanseatic League. Small Estonia has been conquered and ruled by many foreign powers, ranging from the Danes, Germans, Poles, and Swedes to the Russians. German nobles who colonized the Estonian countryside with hundreds of manors were modernizers over the centuries, and also acted as a transmission belt of Continental influences on Estonian cooking, although for a great many years, precious few of these influences trickled down to the impoverished Estonian peasants. Read more on Wikipedia Estonian cuisine.


Sautéed reindeer with mashed potatoes, liongonberry jam and pickles © Htm

Sautéed reindeer with mashed potatoes, liongonberry jam and pickles © Htm

Finnish cuisine
Finnish cuisine is notable for generally combining traditional country fare and haute cuisine with contemporary continental style cooking. Fish and meat (usually pork, beef or reindeer) play a prominent role in traditional Finnish dishes in some parts of the country, while the dishes elsewhere have traditionally included various vegetables and mushrooms. Evacuees from Karelia contributed to foods in other parts of Finland. Finnish foods often use wholemeal products (rye, barley, oats) and berries. Milk and its derivatives like buttermilk are commonly used as food, drink or in various recipes. Various turnips were common in traditional cooking, but were replaced with the potato after its introduction in the 18th century. In former times, the country’s harsh climate meant that fresh fruit and vegetables were largely unavailable for nine months of the year, leading to a heavy reliance on staple tubers (initially turnip, later potato), dark rye bread and fermented dairy products, occasionally enlivened with preserved fish and meat. Traditionally, very few spices other than salt were available, and fresh herbs like dill were limited to the summer months. Many Finnish traditional dishes are prepared by stewing them for a long time in an oven, which produces hearty but bland fare. Forests and lakes were historically a major source of food, and produce from forests currently accounts for the distinctive traits in Finnish cuisine. The simplicity of traditional Finnish food has been turned into an advantage by shifting the emphasis to freshness. Modern Finnish restaurateurs now blend high-quality Finnish products with continental cooking techniques. Internationalization brought imported goods. As pasta, pizza, kebab, and hamburgers were integrated into Finnish menus, they displaced some traditional everyday dishes like cabbage casserole or herring fillets, which some consider inferior. As of the 20th century, when the majority of Finnish women entered the workforce, many traditional dishes that require long preparation time are reserved for holidays. Finnish cuisine is very similar to Swedish cuisine. In fact, Swedish dishes like Janssons frestelse (janssoninkiusaus), pyttipannu, and gravlax are common in Finland. The overarching difference is the Finns’ preference for unsweetened foods. For example, while traditional Swedish rye bread includes plenty of syrup and spices, Finnish rye bread is unsweetened, even bitter. Finnish cuisine also bears some resemblance to German and Russian cuisines. Sausages and buttered bread (like Butterbrot), and kiisseli (kissel) and lihapiirakka (pirozhki) are similar to their respective German and Russian counterparts. Finnish recipes, however, tend to favour fresh ingredients over canned or pickled foods as fresh vegetables, fish, and meat are available throughout the year.

Meats from Finland
The most popular meats in Finland are pork, beef, chicken and duck. Approximately one third of this is eaten as sausage (makkara), which is mostly made from pork but often mixes in other meats as well. In addition to domesticated animals, there are long traditions of hunting and fishing in Finland. The hunters focus on deer, moose and bear, but small game such as hare, duck and grouse are popular. Approximately 70,000-80,000 moose are culled yearly producing significant amounts of meat. Due to very strict food hygiene regulations, moose meat is mainly consumed within households and is rarely obtainable in restaurants. Finnish restaurants are also accustomed to serving reindeer steak for special holidays.

Berries
Arctic wild berries are distinctively featured in Finnish cuisine with their strong flavor and high nutrient content. Traditionally, they were eaten fresh in summer and dried at other times of year. It is still quite common to go picking berries straight from the forests. Wild raspberries, bilberries and lingonberries (cowberries) are found in almost every part of Finland, while cloudberries, cranberries, arctic brambles and sea buckthorns grow in more limited areas. The intensely flavored wild strawberry (metsämansikka) is a seasonal delicacy decorating cakes, served alone, with cream, or with ice cream. Today, berries are no longer dried for winter consumption but usually frozen. They may be used as ingredients, or eaten on their own, for example, with porridge and sugar. Homemade berry juices and jams are common, especially among older people. While berries are most often used for desserts, they are also served with meat, especially the sour lingonberry relish. Bilberry kiisseli and pie, made from wild bilberries (Vaccinium myrtillus), are traditional Finnish desserts. Bilberries are frequently used in Finnish cuisine, both as an ingredient, such as bilberry pie, and also served with cream or ice cream. They are often used on top of viili and other yogurt-type dishes.

Fish
Lakes in Finland provide many opportunities for fishing and fish has always been an important protein source. Numerous methods of preparing fish are used, including frying, boiling, drying, salting, fermenting, cold smoking or simply slicing sea fish and eating it raw. Salmon is a popular choice, both as kylmäsavustettu lohi: cold smoked salmon, lox, or served raw with lemon juice as graavilohi. It is common to smoke any types of fish, like salmon, zander, pike, perch and Baltic herring. A popular dish among the Swedish-speaking population is smoked herring. There are many styles of pickled herring which is a common appetizer and also served around Midsummer accompanied by small potatoes called uusiperuna which literally means ‘new potato’, usually the first harvests of potato. Whitefish and vendace roe are Finnish delicacies served on top of a toast or with blinis. Crayfish can be found in many lakes and streams in Finland and, in August especially, the Swedish-speaking population often arranges parties centered around eating crayfish and drinking.

Mushrooms
Various species of mushrooms grow in abundance in Finnish forests and false morels start the season in spring and are used in creamy dishes. Chanterelles and ceps pop up after Midsummer and are popular in the whole country, while in eastern Finland almost all edible fungi are consumed, including milkcaps and russulas. Most of the mushroom recipes originate from Russia, since Finns used mushrooms in coloring fabrics rather than as food. Mushrooms are used in soups, sauces, stews, pie fillings, or simply fried in a pan with onions as a side dish. They are preserved for the winter by pickling or drying. Chanterelles are frequently featured in Finnish haute cuisine with their relatives winter chanterelles which often end the season. Just like berry picking, mushroom hunting is also a popular outdoor activity among Finns.

Bread
Dark and fiber-rich ruisleipä, rye bread is a staple of the Finnish diet. Breads are made from grains like barley, oat, rye and wheat, or by mixing different grits and flours. For example, sihtileipä is made of a combination of rye and wheat. There is also a variety of flat breads called rieska, like maitorieska (milk flatbread), ryynirieska with barley grits from Savonia, läskirieska (lard flatbread) a somewhat flat barley bread with pieces of lard from Western coast, and perunarieska (potato flatbread). In Kainuu, North Finland, the flatbreads are very flat and baked on naked flame. Näkkileipä, crisp rye bread, is also common. Famines caused by crop failures in the 19th century caused Finns to improvise pettuleipä or bark bread, bread made from rye flour and the soft phloem layer of pine bark, which was nutritious, but rock-hard and anything but tasty. It was eaten also during the Second World War, and the tradition of making this bread has had a minor come-back with claims of health benefits.

Porridges
The Finnish breakfast traditionally includes a substantial portion of porridge. Rolled oats, rye or multi-grain porridge are most common. However, there are other options such as the milk-based mannapuuro (semolina-milk porridge) and helmipuuro (starch grain-milk porridge). Porridges are often eaten with milk, sugar, butter or berry kiisseli. The Christmas season introduces milk-based rice porridge (riisipuuro), sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar and often topped with prune kiisseli (luumukiisseli).

Beverages
Water and coffee are the most common drinks in Finland, but during meals milk and sour milk (piimä, a fermented milk) are popular too, even among adults. Coffee is often drunk several times a day and served everywhere, and tea is available in most homes. There are several types of home-brewed alcoholic beverages, sima (mead), sahti (traditional beer) and kilju (sugar wine, a notorious drink traditionally fermented without flavoring). An illegally distilled ‘moonshine’ spirit is named pontikka. Spirits brands include Koskenkorva (vodka-like clear spirit) and a salmiakki flavored shot Salmiakkikossu, Jaloviina, Finlandia Vodka, and Marskin ryyppy (Marshal Mannerheim’s shot). Around Christmas time a type of mulled wine called glögi is served, also often as a non-alcoholic version. Many berries are used to season liqueurs, e.g. cloudberry liqueur and there are wines produced from red and black currants. A national specialty would be multiple brands of flavored hard ciders (as in Sweden) and long drink mixes with the pet name lonkero, which was originally a gin and grapefruit soda long drink. The Finnish beer scene is dominated by pale lagers. The most popular local brands are Koff, Lapin Kulta, Karjala, Olvi and Karhu and their taste is rather similar to the Danish counterparts like Carlsberg and Tuborg; soft and a bit sweet. Non-alcoholic beer has also become a popular alternative during recent years. Kotikalja (similar to Russian kvass) is the traditional small beer. Kotikalja is a malty, sugar-containing sweet beer fermented only for carbonation, thus its alcohol content is low enough (<1.2%) to be served as a soft drink. Hops are often absent. Fresh kotikalja is unfiltered, cloudy and cannot be stored. A Finnish beer specialty is sahti, a traditional ale flavoured with juniper berries. Read more on Wikipedia Finnish cuisine.


Cheese, wine and bread © Joe deSousa

Cheese, wine and bread © Joe deSousa

French cuisine
In the 14th century Guillaume Tirel, a court chef known as “Taillevent”, wrote Le Viandier, one of the earliest recipe collections of medieval France. During that time, French cuisine was heavily influenced by Italian cuisine. In the 17th century, chefs François Pierre La Varenne and Marie-Antoine Carême spearheaded movements that shifted French cooking away from its foreign influences and developed France’s own indigenous style. Cheese and wine are a major part of the cuisine. They play different roles regionally and nationally, with many variations and appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) (regulated appellation) laws. French cuisine was codified in the 20th century by Auguste Escoffier to become the modern haute cuisine; Escoffier, however, left out much of the local culinary character to be found in the regions of France and was considered difficult to execute by home cooks. Gastro-tourism and the Guide Michelin helped to acquaint people with the rich bourgeois and peasant cuisine of the French countryside starting in the 20th century. Gascon cuisine has also had great influence over the cuisine in the southwest of France. Many dishes that were once regional have proliferated in variations across the country. Knowledge of French cooking has contributed significantly to Western cuisines. Its criteria are used widely in Western cookery school boards and culinary education. In November 2010, French gastronomy was added by the UNESCO to its lists of the world’s “intangible cultural heritage“. There are many dishes that are considered part of French national cuisine today. A meal often consists of three courses, hors d’œuvre or entrée (introductory course, sometimes soup), plat principal (main course), fromage (cheese course) or dessert, sometimes with a salad offered before the cheese or dessert. French regional cuisine is characterized by its extreme diversity and style. Traditionally, each region of France has its own distinctive cuisine.

Paris and Île-de-France
Paris and Île-de-France are central regions where almost anything from the country is available, as all train lines meet in the city. Over 9,000 restaurants exist in Paris and almost any cuisine can be obtained here. High-quality Michelin Guide-rated restaurants proliferate here (Discover cuisine of Ile de France).

Champagne, Lorraine, and Alsace
Game and ham are popular in Champagne (Food in Champagne-Ardenne), as well as the special sparkling wine simply known as Champagne. Fine fruit preserves are known from Lorraine (Discover the cuisine of Lorraine) as well as the quiche Lorraine. Alsace (Alsatian cuisine) is influenced by the Alemannic food culture; as such, beers made in the area are similar to the style of bordering Germany. Dishes like choucroute (the French word for sauerkraut) are also popular. Many “Eaux de Vie” (alcoholic distillation) also called schnaps is from this region, due to a wide variety of local fruits (cherry, raspberry, pear, grapes) and especially prunes (mirabelle, plum).

Nord Pas-de-Calais, Picardy, Normandy, and Brittany
The coastline supplies many crustaceans, sea bass, monkfish and herring. Normandy (Normandy’s specialities) has top quality seafood, such as scallops and sole, while Brittany (Food in Brittany) has a supply of lobster, crayfish and mussels. Normandy is home to a large population of apple trees; apples are often used in dishes, as well as cider and Calvados. The northern areas of this region, especially Nord Pas-de-Calais (The gastronomy of Nord Pas-de-Calais), grow ample amounts of wheat, sugar beets and chicory. Thick stews are found often in these northern areas as well. The produce of these northern regions is also considered some of the best in the country, including cauliflower and artichokes. Buckwheat grows widely in Brittany as well and is used in the region’s galettes, called jalet, which is where this dish originated. Picardy (Discover the cuisine of Picardy) is a wheat-growing region with a rich yet simple gastronomic tradition.

Loire Valley and central France
High-quality fruits come from the Loire Valley (Discover the cuisine of Centre-Loire Valley) and central France (Food in Central France), including cherries grown for the liqueur Guignolet and the ‘Belle Angevine’ pears. The strawberries and melons are also of high quality. Fish are seen in the cuisine, often served with a beurre blanc sauce, as well as wild game, lamb, calves, Charolais cattle, Géline fowl, and high-quality goat cheeses. Young vegetables are used often in the cuisine, as are the specialty mushrooms of the region, champignons de Paris. Vinegars from Orléans are a specialty ingredient used as well.

Burgundy and Franche-Comté
Burgundy (Burgundy Cuisine) and Franche-Comté (Food specialities in Franche-Comte) are known for their wines. Pike, perch, crayfish, snails, game, redcurrants, blackcurrants are from both Burgundy and Franche-Comté. Amongst savorous specialties accounted in the Cuisine franc-comtoise from the Franche-Comté region are Croûte aux morilles, Poulet à la Comtoise, trout, smoked meats and cheeses such as Mont d’Or, Comté and Morbier which are at the palate best eaten hot or cold, the exquisite Coq au vin jaune and the special dessert gâteau de ménage. Charolais beef, poultry from Bresse, sea snail, honey cake, Chaource and Epoisses cheese are specialties of the local cuisine of Burgundy. Dijon mustard is also a specialty of Burgundy cuisine. Crème de cassis is a popular liquor made from the blackcurrants. Oil are used in the cooking here, types include nut oils and rapeseed oil.

Lyon-Rhône-Alpes
Fruit and young vegetables are popular in the cuisine from the Rhône valley. Poultry from Bresse, guinea fowls from Drôme and fish from the Dombes lakes and mountain in Rhône-Alpes (Discover the cuisine of the Rhône-Alpes) streams are key to the cuisine as well. Lyon (Lyonnaise cuisine) and Savoy supply high quality sausages while the Alpine regions supply their specialty cheeses like Beaufort, Abondance, Reblochon, Tomme and Vacherin. Mères lyonnaises are a particular type of restaurateur relegated to this region that are the regions bistro. Celebrated chefs from this region include Fernand Point, Paul Bocuse, the Troisgros brothers and Alain Chapel. The Chartreuse Mountains are in this region, and the liquor Chartreuse is produced by the Grande Chartreuse monks.

Poitou-Charentes and Limousin
Oysters come from the Oléron-Marennes basin, while mussels come from the Bay of Aiguillon. High-quality produce comes from the region’s hinterland, especially goat cheese. This region and in the Vendée is grazing ground for Parthenaise cattle, while poultry is raised in Challans. The region of Poitou-Charentes (A Gastronomic Guide to Poitou-Charentes) purportedly produces the best butter and cream in France. Cognac is also made in the region along the Charente River. Limousin (Limousin food specialties) is home to the high-quality Limousin cattle, as well as high quality sheep. The woodlands offer game and high-quality mushrooms. The southern area around Brive draws its cooking influence from Périgord and Auvergne to produce a robust cuisine.

Bordeaux, Périgord, Gascony, and Basque country
Bordeaux (About Local Cuisine in Bordeaux) is known for its wine, with certain areas offering specialty grapes for wine-making. Fishing is popular in the region for the cuisine, sea fishing in the Bay of Biscay (French Basque CountryBasque cuisine), trapping in the Garonne and stream fishing in the Pyrenees. The Pyrenees also support top quality lamb, such as the “Agneau de Pauillac”, as well as high quality sheep cheeses. Beef cattle in the region include the Blonde d’Aquitaine, Boeuf de Chalosse, Boeuf Gras de Bazas, and Garonnaise. High quality free-range chicken, turkey, pigeon, capon, goose and duck prevail in the region as well. Gascony (Cuisine of Gascony) and Périgord cuisines (The Cuisine of the Périgord) includes high quality patés, terrines, confits and magrets. This is one of the regions notable for its production of foie gras or fattened goose or duck liver. The cuisine of the region is often heavy and farm based. Armagnac is also from this region, as are high quality prunes from Agen.

Toulouse, Quercy, and Aveyron
Gers, a department of France, is within this region and has high quality poultry, while La Montagne Noire and Lacaune area offers high quality hams and dry sausages. White corn is planted heavily in the area both for use in fattening the ducks and geese for foie gras and for the production of millas, a cornmeal porridge. Haricot beans are also grown in this area, which are central to the dish cassoulet. The finest sausage in France is commonly acknowledged to be the saucisse de Toulouse, which also finds its way into their version of cassoulet of Toulouse (Food specialties of Toulouse). The Cahors area produces a high quality specialty “black wine” as well as high-quality truffles and mushrooms. This region also produces milk-fed lamb. Unpasteurized ewe‘s milk is used to produce the Roquefort in Aveyron (A Guide To Aveyron Food & Drink), while in Laguiole is producing unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese. The Salers cattle produce quality milk for cheese, as well as beef and veal products. The volcanic soils create flinty cheeses and superb lentils. Mineral waters are produced in high volume in this region as well. Cabécou cheese is from Rocamadour, a medieval settlement erected directly on a cliff, in the rich countryside of Causses du Quercy (Quercy and Gastronomy and Wines in the Lot Valley). This area is one of the region’s oldest milk producers; it has chalky soil, marked by history and human activity, and is favourable for the raising of goats.

Roussillon, Languedoc, and Cévennes
Restaurants are popular in the area known as Le Midi. Oysters come from the Etang de Thau, to be served in the restaurants of Bouzigues, Meze, and Sète. Mussels are commonly seen here in addition to fish specialties of Sète, Bourride, Tielles and Rouille de seiche. In the Languedoc jambon cru, sometimes known as jambon de montagne is produced. High quality Roquefort comes from the brebis (sheep) on the Larzac plateau. The Les Cévennes area offers mushrooms, chestnuts, berries, honey, lamb, game, sausages, pâtés and goat cheeses. Catalan influence can be seen in the cuisine here with dishes like brandade made from a purée of dried cod wrapped in mangold leaves. Snails are plentiful and are prepared in a specific Catalan style known as a cargolade. Wild boar can be found in the more mountainous regions of the Midi (Cuisine of Languedoc-Roussillon and Cuisine of the Cevennes).

Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur
The Provence (Provencal cuisine) and Côte d’Azur region (Discover the cuisine of the French Riviera) is rich in quality citrus, vegetables, fruits, and herbs; the region is one of the largest suppliers of all these ingredients in France. The region also produces the largest amount of olives, and creates superb olive oil. Lavender is used in many dishes found in Haute Provence. Other important herbs in the cuisine include thyme, sage, rosemary, basil, savory, fennel, marjoram, tarragon, oregano, and bay leaf. Honey is a prized ingredient in the region. Seafood proliferates throughout the coastal area and is heavily represented in the cuisine. Goat cheeses, air-dried sausages, lamb, beef, and chicken are popular here. Garlic* and anchovies are used in many of the region’s sauces, as in Poulet Provençal, which uses white wine, tomatoes, herbs, and sometimes anchovies, and Pastis is found everywhere that alcohol is served. The cuisine uses a large amount of vegetables for lighter preparations. Truffles are commonly seen in Provence during the winter. Thirteen desserts in Provence are the traditional Christmas dessert, e.g. quince cheese, biscuits, almonds, nougat, apple, and fougasse. Rice is grown in the Camargue (Recipes from the Camargue), which is the northernmost rice growing area in Europe, with Camargue red rice being a specialty. Anibal Camous, a Marseillais (Marsaille’s cuisine is heavily influences by Spanish, Italian and North African cuisines) who lived to be 104, maintained that it was by eating garlic daily that he kept his “youth” and brilliance. When his eighty-year-old son died, the father mourned: “I always told him he wouldn’t live long, poor boy. He ate too little garlic!” (cited by chef Philippe Gion).

Corsica
Goats and sheep proliferate on the island of Corsica (Cuisine of Corsica), and lamb are used to prepare dishes such as “stufato”, ragouts and roasts. Cheeses are also produced, with “brocciu” being the most popular. Chestnuts, growing in the Castagniccia forest, are used to produce flour, which is used in turn to make bread, cakes and polenta. The forest provides acorns used to feed the pigs and boars that provide much of the protein for the island’s cuisine. Fresh fish and seafood are common. The island’s pork is used to make fine hams, sausage and other unique items including coppa (dried rib cut), lonzu (dried pork fillet), figatella, salumu (a dried sausage) salcietta, Panzetta, bacon, figatellu (smoked and dried liverwurst) and prisuttu (farmer’s ham). Clementines (which hold an AOC designation), lemons, nectarines and figs are grown there. Candied citron is used in nougats, while and the aforementioned brocciu and chestnuts are also used in desserts. Corsica offers a variety of wines and fruit liqueurs, including Cap Corse, Patrimonio, Cédratine, Bonapartine, liqueur de myrte, vins de fruit, Rappu, and eau-de-vie de châtaigne. The cuisine of Corsica is mainly based on the products of the island, and due to historical and geographical reasons has much in common with the Italian cuisine, and marginally with those of Nice and of Provence.

French Guiana
French Guianan cuisine (Awara broth) is a blend of the different cultures that have settled in French Guiana. Creole and Chinese restaurants are common in major cities such as Cayenne, Kourou and Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni. Many indigenous animal species such as caiman and tapir are used in spiced stews.

Specialties by season
French cuisine varies according to the season. In summer, salads and fruit dishes are popular because they are refreshing and produce is inexpensive and abundant. Greengrocers prefer to sell their fruit and vegetables at lower prices if needed, rather than see them rot in the heat. At the end of summer, mushrooms become plentiful and appear in stews throughout France. The hunting season begins in September and runs through February. Game of all kinds is eaten, often in elaborate dishes that celebrate the success of the hunt. Shellfish are at their peak when winter turns to spring, and oysters appear in restaurants in large quantities. With the advent of deep-freeze and the air-conditioned hypermarché, these seasonal variations are less marked than hitherto, but they are still observed, in some cases due to legal restrictions. Crayfish, for example, have a short season and it is illegal to catch them out of season. Moreover, they do not freeze well.

Christmas
A typical French Christmas dish is turkey with chestnuts. Other common dishes are smoked salmon, oysters, caviar and foie gras. The Yule log is a very French tradition during Christmas. Chocolate and cakes also occupy a prominent place for Christmas in France. This cuisine is normally accompanied by Champagne. Tradition says that thirteen desserts complete the Christmas meal in reference to the twelve apostles and Christ. Read more on Wikivoyage French cuisine and Wikipedia French cuisine.


Plaice with bacon © Xocolatl

Plaice with bacon © Xocolatl

German cuisine
The cuisine of Germany has evolved as a national cuisine through centuries of social and political change with variations from region to region. Some regions of Germany, like Bavaria and neighbouring Swabia, share dishes with Austrian and parts of Swiss cuisine. The Michelin Guide of 2015 awarded eleven restaurants in Germany three stars, the highest designation, while 38 more received two stars and 233 one star. German restaurants have become the world’s second-most decorated after France.

Spices and condiments
With the exception of mustard for sausages, German dishes are rarely hot and spicy; the most popular herbs are traditionally parsley, thyme, laurel, chives, black pepper (used in small amounts), juniper berries, nutmeg, and caraway. Cardamom, anise seed, and cinnamon are often used in sweet cakes or beverages associated with Christmas time, and sometimes in the preparation of sausages, but are otherwise rare in German meals. Other herbs and spices, such as basil, sage, oregano, and hot chili peppers, have become popular since the early 80´s. Fresh dill is very common in a green salad or fish fillet. Mustard (Senf) is a very common accompaniment to sausages and can vary in strength, the most common version being Mittelscharf (medium hot), which is somewhere between traditional English and French mustards in strength. Düsseldorf, similar to French’s Deli Mustard with a taste that is very different from Dijon, and the surrounding area are known for its particularly spicy mustard, which is used both as a table condiment and in local dishes such as Senfrostbraten (pot roast with mustard). In the southern parts of the country, a sweet variety of mustard is made which is almost exclusively served with the Bavarian speciality Weißwurst. German mustard is usually considerably less acidic than American varieties. Horseradish is commonly used as a condiment either on its own served as a paste, enriched with cream (Sahnemeerrettich), or combined with mustard. In some regions of Germany, it is used with meats and sausages where mustard would otherwise be used. Garlic was long frowned upon for causing halitosis, so has never played a large role in traditional German cuisine, but has risen in popularity in recent decades due to the influence of French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, and Turkish cuisines. Bear’s garlic, a rediscovered spice from earlier centuries, has become quite popular again since the 1990s.

Swabia
In comparison to the more French-influenced Baden cuisine, Swabian cuisine is rather simple and down-to-earth. It is native to Swabia, which comprises great parts of Wurttemberg and the Bavarian part of Swabia, as well as the Allgäu which has parts lying in Austria. Of very essential importance are egg noodle products in many variations, e.g. Spätzle or Maultaschen. Also typical are substantial soups and stews.

Baden
Due to the physiogeographically situation, the Upper Rhine Plain with Germany’s warmest climate, fruitful volcanic soils, already in the Roman period used medicinal springs and spas with very good infrastructural features, the proximity to France and Switzerland Baden had better prerequisites to develop a high quality gastronomy than Wurttemberg or Bavaria. Special plant crops such as tobacco, wine, fruit and horticulture are of supranational importance and offer the inhabitants and visitors a diverse and wide selection of local products. Asparagus and chestnuts are as skillfully used in the kitchen as tripe and escargot and a variety of fruity desserts and pastries is provided for the traditional German “Kaffee und Kuchen” (lit. “coffee and cake”, similar to the British tea time). Nationwide this region features the highest density of star-rated restaurants, similar to the neighbouring region Alsace which does the same for France. Considering these important gastronomical traditions it may be surprising how small the amount of dishes is that are really specifically and distinctively from Baden. First of all it does evince great regional differences and many basic recipes and ingredients were adapted and modified from neighbouring countries. This happened with an ease that is much greater as in other German regional cuisines and as one of the greatest influences came from the French cuisine, the cuisine of Baden is lighter than the cuisines of e.g. Swabia, the Palatinate or Bavaria which feature heartier dishes and have a peasant background.

Bavaria
The Bavarian dukes, especially the Wittelsbach family, developed Bavarian cuisine and refined it to be presentable to the royal court. This cuisine has belonged to wealthy households, especially in cities, since the 19th century. The (old) Bavarian cuisine is closely connected to Czech cuisine and Austrian cuisine (especially from Tyrol and Salzburg), mainly through the Wittelsbach and Habsburg families. Already in the beginning, Bavarians were closely connected to their neighbours in Austria through linguistic, cultural and political similarities, which also reflected on the cuisine. A characteristic Bavarian cuisine was further developed by both groups, with a distinct similarity to Franconian and Swabian cuisine. A Bavarian speciality is the Brotzeit (open sandwich), a savoury snack, which would originally be eaten between breakfast and lunch. Bavaria is a part of Southeastern Germany, including the city of Munich and spreading to board with the countries Austria and the Czech Republic. The region is located at higher elevations, and is known for yielding beet and potato crops and also for the production of fine beers.

Franconian cuisine
Franconian Cuisine is an umbrella term for all dishes with a specific regional identity belonging to the region of Franconia, with many similarities to Bavarian cuisine and Swabian cuisine. It is often included in the Bavarian cuisine, since most parts of Franconia belong to Bavaria today. There are several franconian food items, which are also famous beyond the borders of Franconia, such as Nürnberger Lebkuchen, Bratwurst or the wines of Franconia. Franconia is also famous for its beer and harbours the highest density of breweries in the world.

Hesse
Hessian cuisine is based on centuries-old recipes, and forms a major part of the Hesse identity. Reflecting Hesse’s central location within Germany, Hessian cuisine fuses north German and south German cooking, with heavy influence from Bavarian cuisine and Rhenish Hesse. Sour tastes dominate the cuisine, with wines and ciders, sauerkraut and handkäse with onions and vinegar popular.

Palatinate
The Palatine cuisine of the Palatinate region is essentially determined by regional dishes that have become popular throughout the whole region and even beyond. The traditional Palatine cuisine is in parts very hearty and substantial mainly because the recipes were developed by the physically hard-working population or in times of poverty. In comparison to other regional German cuisines its dishes are also hotter and spicier. A typical spice used for sausage and potatoes is marjoram. Palatinate is part of Rhineland-Palatinate. It’s cuisine is part of the North Rhine Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate cuisine

Lower Saxony
Lower Saxon cuisine covers a range of regional, North German culinary traditions from the region correspondingly broadly to the state of Lower Saxony, which in many cases are very similar to one another, for example cuisine from the areas of Oldenburg, Brunswick, or East Frisia. It is mainly indigenous and in some cases very hearty. The most common accompaniment is potato, which is prepared in a variety of ways, especially as Salzkartoffel or boiled potatoes. A popular vegetable, very typical of the area, is kale or Grünkohl, known regionally, especially in Bremen and Brunswick Land as Braunkohl. Asparagus is eaten as a great delicacy in the state of Lower Saxony. It is grown mainly around the towns and cities of Burgdorf, Nienburg, Brunswick and in the Oldenburg Münsterland as well as the southern part of the Lüneburg Heath and on the Stade Geest.

Hamburg
Due to its century-old history as a harbour town, the traditional cuisine of Hamburg is very diversified and sapid as ingredients’ supply was safe. Until the 20th century, it was predominantly characterized by the extensive choice of different kinds of fish from the river Elbe and the quick access to both the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, both being roughly 100 kilometers away from the city center. The neighboring regions did supply the city state with fresh vegetables, fruit came mainly from a region called Altes Land just southwest of Hamburg and until industrialization, the neighbourhood of Wilhelmsburg was considered the ‘milk isle’ of Hamburg. International trade made spices and exotic nutrition items from Asia and South America available since the 16th century which were soon incorporated into civic kitchens. On this basis, the cuisine of Hamburg developed its characteristics nowadays due to the supraregional harmonization of the Northern German and Scandinavian cuisine. Due to its high economic importance Hamburg, does feature many internationally recognized gourmet restaurants.

Schleswig-Holstein
The Schleswig-Holstein cuisine of Schleswig-Holstein forms part of the German cuisine in which the different influences of the regions Lower Saxony and Friesland and of Denmark are perceptible. The proximity to the sea and the harsh climate play a great role and determine which ingredients are available.

Mecklenburg
Mecklenburg cuisine is typically northeast German. Many dishes in the region today, whilst retaining their original characteristics, frequently add new facets, whilst old dishes are being rediscovered and combined with current recipes. Mecklenburg food has traditionally been considered as rather down-to-earth and hearty. It reflects, on the one hand, the simple life of the region of Mecklenburg, long dominated by agriculture, and on the other hand, its long Baltic coastline and the abundance of its inland waters. In addition, its vast forests produce a wealth of game. Potatoes, known locally as Tüften, play a particularly important role in the region also, as evinced by the existence of a potato museum (the Vorpommersches Kartoffelmuseum) in neighbouring West Pomerania), and a variety of cooking methods are used to prepare them. Other staples are kale, known as Grünkohl and a sweet-and-sour flavour produced, for example, by using dried fruit. Although Mecklenburg and Western Pomerania have both had long, independent histories, the similarity in living conditions and landscapes in both regions has resulted in both populations having similar eating habits.

Pomerania
Pomeranian cuisine generally refers to dishes typical of the area that once formed the historic Province of Pomerania in northeast Germany and which included Stettin (now Szczecin) and Further Pomerania. It is characterised by ingredients produced by Pomeranian farms, such as swede (Wruken) and sugar beet, by poultry rearing, which has produced the famous Pomeranian goose, by the wealth of fish in the Baltic Sea, rivers and inland lakes of the Pomeranian Lake District, and the abundance of quarry in Pomeranian forests. Pomeranian cuisine is hearty. Several foodstuffs have a particularly important role to play here in the region: potatoes, known as Tüften, prepared in various ways and whose significance is evinced by the existence of a West Pomeranian Potato Museum (Vorpommersches Kartoffelmuseum), Grünkohl and sweet and sour dishes produced, for example, by baking fruit. Pomeranian farmers were self-sufficient: crops were stored until the following harvest, meat products were preserved in the smoke store of the home, or in the smokeries of larger villages such as Schlawin. Fruit, vegetables, lard and Gänseflomen were preserved by bottling in jars. Syrup was made from the sugar beet itself.

Brandenburg
The cuisine of Brandenburg is considered rather down-to-earth compared to other cuisines. Because many people in Brandenburg have Slavonic roots, the cuisine is very much influenced by their habits and customs, such as is the case in Mecklenburg and Pomerania. Due to the numerous greater and smaller inland lakes in Brandenburg its cuisine features much fish. Particularly pike, zander, eel and carp are very popular and are ingredients in many dishes. A very typical fashion of preparation is the combination with Spreewaldsauce. Potato is an essential ingredient in the cuisine of Brandenburg since Frederick the Great encouraged its breakthrough through a royal decree. It is so important that some tourist activities are built around the potato and its importance for the population in Brandenburg, for example the tourist association of Fläming offers a “culinary potato tour” where the participants are guided to several inns which have innovative recipes containing potato on their menu.

Berlin
The cuisine of Berlin is a simple, rustic kitchen, which places more value on the taste and saturation than on refinement. It is characterized by the cooking traditions of the immigrants from Silesia, Bohemia, East Prussia, Pomerania and Mecklenburg as well as the Huguenots from France, apart from the traditional ingredients used in Brandenburg cuisine. The Prussian-Protestant cuisine in Berlin integrated these influences through simplification. Complex preparations and refined condiments are alien to her. Typical ingredients are pork, goose and fish such as carp, eel and pike, cabbage, legumes such as peas, lentils and beans as well as beets, cucumbers and potatoes. It’s like the city itself: A mix out of everything.

Thuringia
One-third of Thuringia is covered in forest, and is considered to be one of the best game-hunting regions in the country. Anyone holding a valid hunting license and a local hunting permit for the area may hunt for game such as red deer, roe deer, wild boar, rabbit, duck, and mouflon (mountain sheep). Pheasant and capercaillie are protected game species that may not be hunted. The wooded areas also contain a wide variety of edible mushrooms, such as chestnut mushrooms, porcini, and chanterelles, along with wild berries, such as blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, and blackberries, which are all traditional accompaniments to game dishes. The most famous foods from Thuringia are Thuringian sausages and Thuringian dumplings. The state is also known for its sausages; steamed, scaled, and cured varieties are all prepared. Popular varieties include Thüringer Mettwurst (a spreadable cured sausage), Feldkieker (a cured, air-dried sausage dried up to eight months), Thüringer Leberwurst (a steamed pork and liver sausage), Thüringer Rotwurst (a steamed blood sausage packed in a bladder or other natural casing) and Mett (minced pork).

Ore Mountains
Cuisine in the Ore Mountains was dominated for centuries by the changing economic circumstances of the mining, handicraft and forestry industries, as well as the fortunes of home-based crafts. This is reflected, on the one hand, in the simplicity of cooking ingredients, the art of improvisation and creativity of the Ore Mountain housewife, and, on the other hand, in the very rich cuisine of the manor houses. For example the lords of Schönberg, who had the closest relations with the court at Dresden, demonstrated their prosperity at the dining table. They also benefited from long-distance trade, thanks to the strategic location of their strongholds in Sayda and Purschenstein, which were situated on the so-called Salt Road. Thus they were able to enjoy the exotic spices and culinary expertise that arrived in coaches and from which their kitchens also benefited. Traditionally very common are various forms of potato pancake (Kartoffelpuffer) which may be served as sweet or savoury main courses as well as an accompaniment to meat. At Christmas, which is especially richly celebrated in the Ore Mountains, many households still make Neinerlaa. The ingredients vary from region to region, sometimes even from village to village. In any case, on Christmas Eve nine elements are served, for example, bratwurst, sauerkraut and lentils, each element supposedly having a special significance for the coming year. For example, dumplings stand for wealth and celery for fertility

Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt
In general the cuisine is very hearty and features many peculiarities of central Germany such as a great variety of sauces which accompany the main dish and the fashion to serve Klöße” or Knödel as a side dish instead of potatoes, pasta or rice. Also much freshwater fish is used in Saxon cuisine, particularly carp and trout as is the case throughout Eastern Europe. The rich history of the region did and still does influence the cuisine. In the blossoming and growing cities of Dresden and Leipzig an extravagant style of cuisine is cherished (one may only think of the crab as an ingredient in the famous Leipziger Allerlei). Other regions where the people had to work really hard to yield some harvest and were really poor like in the Ore Mountains peasant dishes play a major role and famous dishes originating there are e.g. potatoes with Quark, potato soup or potato with bread and linseed oil. Also in the region Vogtland there were many peasants but they were wealthier and that’s why in this region the Sunday roast is a tradition that is nowadays still lived up to. Cereal grain cultivation occupies 62% of the cultivated land in Saxony-Anhalt. Wheat, barley, oats, and rye are grown, with the rye being grown near Borde, where it is used to make Burger Knäckebrot, a flatbread produced there since 1931. Another 10% of the cultivated area is planted in sugar beets for conversion to sugar, popularized after the 19th century, when the region had an economic boom (The Cuisine of Saxony-Anhalt).

Beverages
Beer is very common throughout all parts of Germany, with many local and regional breweries producing a wide variety of beers. The pale lager pilsener, a style developed in the mid-19th century, is predominant in most parts of the country today, whereas wheat beer (Weißbier/Weizen) and other types of lager are common, especially in Bavaria. A number of regions have local specialties, many of which, like Weißbier, are more traditionally brewed ales. Among these are Altbier, a dark beer available around Düsseldorf and the lower Rhine, Kölsch, a similar style, but light in color, in the Cologne area, and the low-alcohol Berliner Weiße, a sour beer made in Berlin that is often mixed with raspberry or woodruff syrup. Since the reunification of 1990, Schwarzbier, which was common in East Germany, but could hardly be found in West Germany, has become increasingly popular in Germany as a whole. Beer may also be mixed with other beverages such as pils or lager and carbonated lemonade: Radler (lit: cyclist), Alsterwasser (lit: water from the river Alster). Since a beer tax law was changed in 1993, many breweries served this trend of mixing beer with other drinks by selling bottles of pre-mixed beverages. Examples are Bibob (by Köstritzer), Veltins V+, Mixery (by Karlsberg), Dimix (by Diebels) and Cab (by Krombacher). Wine is also popular throughout the country. German wine comes predominantly from the areas along the upper and middle Rhine and its tributaries. Riesling and Silvaner are among the best-known varieties of white wine, while Spätburgunder and Dornfelder are important German red wines. The sweet German wines sold in English-speaking countries seem mostly to cater to the foreign market, as they are rare in Germany. Korn, a German spirit made from malt (wheat, rye or barley), is consumed predominantly in the middle and northern parts of Germany. Obstler, on the other hand, distilled from apples and pears (Obstler), plums, cherries (Kirschwasser), or mirabelle plums, is preferred in the southern parts. The term Schnaps refers to both kinds of hard liquors. All cold drinks in bars and restaurants are sold in glasses with a calibration mark (Eichstrich) that is frequently checked by the Eichamt (~ Bureau of Weights and Measures) to ensure the guest is getting as much as is offered in the menu.

Desserts
A wide variety of cakes and tarts are served throughout the country, most commonly made with fresh fruit. Apples, plums, strawberries, and cherries are used regularly in cakes. Cheesecake is also very popular, often made with quark. Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (Black Forest cake, made with cherries) is probably the most well-known example of a wide variety of typically German tortes filled with whipped or butter cream. German doughnuts (which have no hole) are usually balls of yeast dough with jam or other fillings, and are known as Berliner, Pfannkuchen (only in Berlin and Eastern Germany), Kreppel or Krapfen, depending on the region. Eierkuchen or Pfannkuchen are large (usually around 20–24 cm in diameter), and relatively thin (~5mm) pancakes, comparable to the French crêpes. They are served covered with sugar, jam or syrup. Salty variants with cheese, ground meat or bacon exist as well as variants with apple slices baked in (called Apfelpfannkuchen, literally for apple pancakes), but they are usually considered to be main dishes rather than desserts. In some regions, Eierkuchen are filled and then wrapped; in others, they are cut into small pieces and arranged in a heap (called Kaiserschmarrn, often including raisins baked in). The word Pfannkuchen means pancake in most parts of Germany. A popular dessert in northern Germany is Rote Grütze, red fruit pudding, which is made with black and red currants, raspberries and sometimes strawberries or cherries cooked in juice with corn starch as a thickener. It is traditionally served with cream, but also is served with vanilla sauce, milk or whipped cream. Rhabarbergrütze (rhubarb pudding) and Grüne Grütze (gooseberry fruit pudding) are variations of the Rote Grütze. A similar dish, Obstkaltschale, may also be found all around Germany. Ice cream and sorbets are also very popular. Italian-run ice cream parlours were the first large wave of foreign-run eateries in Germany, becoming widespread in the 1920s. Spaghettieis, which resembles spaghetti, tomato sauce, and ground cheese on a plate, is a popular ice cream dessert (List of German desserts).

International influences
The first wave of foreigners coming to Germany specifically to sell their food specialties were ice cream makers from northern Italy, who started to arrive in noticeable numbers during the late 1920s. With the post-World War II contacts with Allied occupation troops, and especially with the influx of more and more foreign workers that began during the second half of the 1950s, many foreign dishes have been adopted into German cuisine — Italian dishes, such as spaghetti and pizza, have become staples of the German diet. The pizza is Germany’s favourite fast food. Turkish immigrants have introduced Turkish foods to Germany, notably döner kebab. Chinese, Vietnamese, Greek and Balkan restaurants are also widespread. Before 1990, the cuisine from Eastern Germany (1949-1990) was influenced by Russian, Polish, Bulgarian and other countries of the Communist bloc. East Germans traveled abroad to these countries on holiday, and soldiers coming to East Germany from these countries brought their dishes with them. A typical dish that came to the East German kitchen this way is Soljanka. Indian, Vietnamese, Thai, Kurdish, Arab, Middle-Eastern, and other Asian cuisines are rapidly gaining in popularity since the early 2000s. Until the late 1990s many of the more expensive restaurants served mostly French inspired dishes for decades. Since the end of the 1990s, they have been shifting to a more refined form of German cuisine. Read more on Wikipedia German cuisine.


Pikilia, an assortment of Greek appetizers © KF

Pikilia, an assortment of Greek appetizers © KF

Greek cuisine
Greek cuisine is a Mediterranean cuisine. Contemporary Greek cookery makes wide use of vegetables, olive oil, grains, fish, wine, and meat (white and red, including lamb, poultry, rabbit and pork). Other important ingredients include olives, cheese, eggplant, zucchini, lemon juice, vegetables, herbs, bread and yoghurt. The most commonly used grain is wheat; barley is also used. Common dessert ingredients include nuts, honey, fruits, and filo pastry. Distinct from the mainstream regional cuisines are: Cuisine of the Aegean islands (including Kykladitiki, from Kyklades), Arcadian cuisine, Cuisine of the Ionian islands, Ipirotiki (Epirotic cuisine), Kritiki (Cretan cuisine), Kypriaki (Cypriot cuisine), Makedoniki (Macedonian cuisine), Mikrasiatiki, from the Greek refugees of Asia Minor, including Politiki, from the tradition of the Greeks of Constantinople and Pontiaki, found anywhere there are Pontians (Greek immigrants from the Black Sea region)

Overview
The most characteristic and ancient element of Greek cuisine is olive oil, which is used in most dishes. It is produced from the olive trees prominent throughout the region, and adds to the distinctive taste of Greek food. The olives are also widely eaten. The basic grain in Greece is wheat, though barley is also grown. Important vegetables include tomato, aubergine (eggplant), potato, green beans, okra, green peppers, and onions. Honey in Greece is mainly honey from the nectar of fruit trees and citrus trees: lemon, orange, bigarade (bitter orange) trees, thyme honey, and pine honey. Mastic (aromatic, ivory coloured resin) is grown on the Aegean island of Chios. Greek cuisine uses some flavorings more often than other Mediterranean cuisines do, namely: oregano, mint, garlic, onion, dill and bay laurel leaves. Other common herbs and spices include basil, thyme and fennel seed. Parsley is also used as a garnish on some dishes. Many Greek recipes, especially in the northern parts of the country, use “sweet” spices in combination with meat, for example cinnamon, whole spice and cloves in stews. The climate and terrain has tended to favour the breeding of goats and sheep over cattle, and thus beef dishes are uncommon. Fish dishes are common in coastal regions and on the islands. A great variety of cheese types are used in Greek cuisine, including Feta, Kasseri, Kefalotyri, Graviera, Anthotyros, Manouri, Metsovone, Ladotyri (cheese with olive oil), Kalathaki (a specialty from the island of Limnos), Katiki-Tsalafouti (both creamy cheeses, suitable for spreads) and Mizithra. Too much refinement is generally considered to be against the hearty spirit of the Greek cuisine, though recent trends among Greek culinary circles tend to favour a somewhat more refined approach. Dining out is common in Greece, and has been for quite some time. The Taverna and Estiatorio are widespread, serving home cooking at affordable prices to both locals and tourists. Recently, fast food has become more widespread, with local chains such as Goody’s springing up, though most McDonald’s have closed. Locals still largely eat Greek cuisine. In addition, some traditional Greek foods, especially souvlaki, gyros, pita such as tyropita and spanakopita (respectively, cheese and spinach pie) are often served in fast food style.

Origins
Greece has an ancient culinary tradition dating back several millennia, and over the centuries Greek cuisine has evolved and absorbed numerous influences and influenced many cuisines itself. Some dishes can be traced back to ancient Greece: lentil soup, fasolada, retsina (white or rosé wine flavored with pine resin) and pasteli (candy bar with sesame seeds baked with honey); some to the Hellenistic and Roman periods: loukaniko (dried pork sausage); and Byzantium: feta cheese, avgotaraho (cured fish roe) and paximadi (traditional hard bread baked from corn, barley and rye). There are also many ancient and Byzantine dishes which are no longer consumed: porridge as the main staple, fish sauce, and salt water mixed into wine. Many dishes are part of the larger tradition of Greek cuisine: moussaka, tzatziki, yuvarlakia, keftethes, boureki, and so on. Read more on Wikipedia Greek cuisine.


Hungarian Goulash © flickr.com - bucklava/cc-by-2.0

Hungarian Goulash © flickr.com – bucklava/cc-by-2.0

Hungarian cuisine
Traditional Hungarian dishes are primarily based on meats, seasonal vegetables, fruits, fresh bread, dairy products and cheeses. Hungarians are especially passionate about their stews, roasted pork, breads, pastries, beef, poultry, lamb, and game, as well as the paprika, a quintessential spice and pepper used prominently in many Hungarian dishes. The mixing of different varieties of meats is a traditional feature of Hungarian cuisine. Goulash, stuffed peppers, cabbage rolls, and Fatányéros (Hungarian mixed grill on a wooden platter) are all dishes that can combine beef and pork, and sometimes mutton. Goulash (Hungarian: gulyásleves) is essentially a soup-like stew using meat with bones, paprika, caraway, vegetables (typically carrots and parsley root), other spices, and potatoes or various tiny dumplings or pasta (such as csipetke) simmered with the meat. Other famous Hungarian meat stews include paprikás, a thicker stew with meat simmered in thick, creamy, paprika-flavored gravy, and pörkölt, a flavorful Hungarian stew with boneless meat (usually beef or pork), onion, and sweet paprika powder, both served with nokedli or galuska (small dumplings). In old-fashioned dishes, fruits such as plums and apricots are cooked with meat or in piquant sauces/stuffings for game, roasts and other cuts. Various kinds of noodles, dumplings, potatoes, and rice are commonly served as a side dish. Hungarian dry sausages (kolbász) and winter salami are also an integral part of Hungarian cuisine. Other characteristics of Hungarian cuisine are the soups, casseroles, desserts, and pastries and stuffed crêpes (palacsinta), with fierce rivalries between regional variations on the same dish (such as the Hungarian hot fish soup called fisherman’s soup or halászlé, cooked differently on the banks of Hungary’s two main rivers: the Danube and the Tisza), palacsinta (pancakes served flambéed in dark chocolate sauce filled with ground walnuts) and Dobos Cake (layered sponge cake, with chocolate buttercream filling and topped with a thin slice of caramel). Two remarkable elements of Hungarian cuisine that are hardly noticed by locals, but usually elicit much enthusiasm from foreigners, are the different forms of vegetable stews called főzelék as well as cold fruit soups, such as cold sour cherry soup (Hungarian: hideg meggyleves). Hungarian cuisine uses a large variety of cheeses, but the most common are túró (a type of quark), cream cheeses, ewe-cheese (juhturó), Emmentaler, Edam and the Hungarian cheeses Trappista, Pálpusztai, and Pannonia cheese.

Meals
People usually have a large breakfast. Hungarian breakfast generally is an open sandwich with fresh bread or a toast, butter, cheese or different cream cheeses, túró cheese or körözött (Liptauer cheese spread), cold cuts such as ham, véres hurka (similar to black pudding), liver pâté (called májkrém or kenőmájas), bacon, salami, beef tongue, mortadella, disznósajt (head cheese), sausages such as kabanos, beerwurst or different Hungarian sausages or kolbász. Even eggs, (fried, scrambled or boiled), French toast called bundáskenyér and vegetables (including peppers, bell peppers, tomatoes, radish, scallion and cucumber) are part of the Hungarian breakfast. Sometimes breakfast is a cup of milk, tea or coffee with pastries, a bun, a kifli or a strudel with jam or honey, or cereal, such as muesli and perhaps fruit. Children can have rice pudding (tejberizs) or Semolina Cream (tejbegríz) for breakfast topped with cocoa powder and sugar or with fruit syrup. Hot drinks are preferred for breakfast. Villásreggeli (literally breakfast with fork) is a more luxurious big breakfast given on special occasions or holidays. Often guests are invited. Deviled eggs, cold steak, cold salads, salmon-omelet, pancakes, a spicy cheese spread made with sheep milk cheese called körözött, caviar, foie gras, fruit salads, compote, fruit yogurts, fruit juices, champagne and pastries, cakes and cookies may be served. Lunch is the major meal of the day, usually with several courses. Cold or hot appetizers may be served sometimes (for example fish, egg or liver), then soup. Soup is followed by a main dish. The main dish is a dish including meat and salad, which precedes the dessert. Fruit may follow. In Hungary, pancakes (or rather, crepes) are served as a main dish, not for breakfast. Salad is always served with meat dishes, made of lettuce with tomatoes, cucumbers and onions or a simple thin sliced cucumber salad in vinaigrette. Salads such as Salade Olivier or potato salad are made of boiled potatoes, vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, mushrooms, fried or boiled meat or fish, in vinaigrette, aspic or mayonnaise. These salads are eaten as appetizers or even as a main course. Some people and children eat a light meal in the afternoon, called uzsonna, usually an open sandwich, pastry, slice of cake or fruit. Dinner is a far less significant meal than lunch. It may be similar to breakfast, usually an open sandwich, yogurt or virsli (hot dog sausage) with a bun, more seldom a cake, pancakes (palacsinta), and it consists of only one course. Some people and children eat a light meal in the afternoon, called uzsonna, usually an open sandwich, pastry, slice of cake or fruit. Dinner is a far less significant meal than lunch. It may be similar to breakfast, usually an open sandwich, yogurt or virsli (hot dog sausage) with a bun, more seldom a cake, pancakes (palacsinta), and it consists of only one course.

Special occasions
For Christmas, Hungarians have a fish soup called halászlé. Other dishes may be served, such as roast goose, roast turkey or roast duck, cabbage rolls (töltött káposzta). Pastry roll filled with walnut or poppy seed called (bejgli) is a usual Christmas food, and candies and sweets used to decorate the Christmas tree, such as szaloncukor are eaten during all Christmas, when everybody picks them and eats them directly from the tree. On New Year’s Eve (Szilveszter), Hungarians traditionally celebrate with virsli (Vienna sausage, and lentil soup. On New Year’s Day, it is common to eat either lentil soup or korhelyleves, a meaty sauerkraut soup said to cure hangovers. Easter (Húsvét) meals have few specialties, though some Hungarians (especially in Szabolcs County) make a special sweet yellow cheese, Sárga túró, made with quark (túró) and eggs. Read more on Wikipedia Hungarian cuisine.


Irish breakfast © O'Dea/cc-by-sa-3.0

Irish breakfast © O’Dea/cc-by-sa-3.0

Irish cuisine
It has evolved from centuries of social and political change, and the mixing of the different cultures on Éire, predominantly the English and Irish. The cuisine is founded upon the crops and animals farmed in its temperate climate. The development of Irish cuisine was negatively impacted by the English conquest of the early 17th century, which impoverished the masses by taking their land away and making the food supply provide for England and its armed forces. The English also replaced more sophisticated types of native cuisine with English norms. Consequently, the potato, after its widespread adoption in the 18th century, became just about the only food the poor could afford (which was the vast majority of the population). As a result, the potato is often associated with Ireland and “Irish potato” has come to mean any dense, white potato with a low starch content. Many elements of Irish cuisine were lost or abandoned during that time, with the loss being particularly acute between the Great Famine of the mid 19th century and the mid 20th century. By the 21st century, much of Irish cuisine was being revived. Representative modern Irish dishes include Irish stew (made with lamb, mutton, or goat), shepherd’s pie (meat and vegetables, topped with potato), bacon and cabbage (with potatoes), boxty (potato pancake), coddle (sausage, bacon, and potato), and colcannon (mashed potato, kale or cabbage, and butter).

Modern era
In the 21st century, the usual modern selection of foods common to Western culture has been adopted in Ireland. Common meals include pizza, curry, Chinese food, Thai food, and lately, some West African dishes and East European (especially Polish) dishes have been making an appearance, as ingredients for these and other cuisines have become more widely available. In tandem with these developments, the last quarter of the 20th century saw the emergence of a new Irish cuisine based on traditional ingredients handled in new ways. This cuisine is based on fresh vegetables, fish (especially salmon and trout), oysters, mussels and other shellfish, traditional soda bread, the wide range of cheeses that are now being made across the country, and, of course, the potato. Traditional dishes, such as Irish stew, coddle, the Irish breakfast, and potato bread have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity. Chef and food writer Myrtle Allen – an early protagonist of such attitudes and methods – went on to play a crucial role in their development and promotion. Schools like the Ballymaloe Cookery School have emerged to cater for the associated increased interest in cooking. Fish and chips take-away is popular. The first fish and chips were sold in Dublin in the 1880s by an Italian immigrant from San Donato Val di Comino, Giuseppe Cervi. His wife Palma would ask customers ‘Uno di questa, uno di quella?’ This phrase (meaning ‘one of this, one of the other’) entered the vernacular in Dublin as ‘one and one’, which is still a common way of referring to fish and chips in the city. In much of Ulster (especially Northern Ireland and County Donegal), fish and chips are usually known as a ‘fish supper’. The proliferation of fast food has led to increasing public health problems, including obesity, where it was reported that as many as 327,000 Irish children are now obese or overweight and in response the Irish Government is now considering introducing a “Fast Food Tax”. Government efforts to combat obesity have also included television advertising campaigns and education programmes in schools.

Seafood
The eating of seafood, despite Irelands enormous coastline, is not as common as in other maritime countries. Irish people eat well below the European average of seafood. It appears that it may have been more common in the past, but declined markedly in the last few centuries. There may be various reasons for this. Irish owned shipping was severely restricted under English governance from the late 16th century on. Ireland was traditionally a cattle based economy and fish was associated with religious fasting. It was the traditional food of fast on Fridays, in common with other Catholic countries. Also, seafood and particularly shellfish became associated with the poor and the shame of colonisation. Seafood remained an important part of the diet in coastal cities like Galway and Dublin. In Dublin the fish seller is celebrated in the traditional folk song “Molly Malone“, and in Galway the international Galway Oyster Festival is held every September. An example of a modern Irish shellfish dish is Dublin Lawyer (lobster cooked in whiskey and cream). Salmon and cod are perhaps the two most common types of fish eaten. Carrageen moss and dulse (both types of red algae) are commonly used in Irish seafood dishes. Seaweed, by contrast, has always been an important part of the Irish diet and remains to some extent popular today. Two popular forms are Dillisk (Palmaria palmata) and Carageen moss or Irish moss (Chondrus crispus, Mastocarpus stellatus), also eaten in the Caribbean. Read more on Wikipedia Irish cuisine.


© ElfQrin/cc-by-sa-4.0

© ElfQrin/cc-by-sa-4.0

Italian cuisine
Italian cuisine is food typical of or originating from Italy. It has developed through centuries of social and political changes, with roots stretching to antiquity. Significant changes occurred with the discovery of the New World and the introduction of potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers and maize, now central to the cuisine but not introduced in quantity until the 18th century. Italian cuisine is noted for its regional diversity, especially between the north and the south of the Italian peninsula. It offers an abundance of taste, and is one of the most popular in the world. It influenced several cuisines around the world chiefly that of the United States. Italian cuisine is characterized by its simplicity, with many dishes having only four to eight ingredients. Italian cooks rely chiefly on the quality of the ingredients rather than on elaborate preparation. Ingredients and dishes vary by region. Many dishes that were once regional, have proliferated with variations throughout the country. Together with the governments of Spain, Greece and Morocco, the Italian government has asked UNESCO to include the Mediterranean cuisine in the list of the Intangible cultural heritage. In November 2010, this application was approved and expanded in 2013 by the countries of Croatia, Portugal and Cyprus. Each area has its own specialties, primarily at a regional level, but also at provincial level. The differences can come from a bordering country (such as France or Austria), whether a region is close to the sea or the mountains, and economics. Italian cuisine is also seasonal with priority placed on the use of fresh produce.

Abruzzo and Molise
Pasta, meat and vegetables are central to the cuisine of Abruzzo and Molise. Chili peppers (peperoncini) are typical of Abruzzo, where they are called diavoletti (“little devils”) for their spicy heat. Due to the long history of shepherding in Abruzzo and Molise, lamb dishes are common. Lamb is often used with pasta. Mushrooms (usually wild mushrooms), rosemary, and garlic are also extensively used in Abruzzese cuisine. Best-known is the extra virgin olive oil produced in the local farms on the hills of the region, marked by the quality level DOP and considered one of the best in the country. Renowned wines like Montepulciano DOCG and Trebbiano d’Abruzzo DOC are considered amongst the world’s finest wines. In 2012 a bottle of Trebbiano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane ranked #1 in the top 50 Italian wine award. Centerbe (“Hundred Herbs”) is a strong (72% alcohol), spicy herbal liqueur drunk by the locals. Another liqueur is genziana, a soft distillate of gentian roots. The best-known dish from Abruzzo is arrosticini, little pieces of castrated lamb on a wooden stick and cooked on coals. The chitarra (literally “guitar”) is a fine stringed tool that pasta dough is pressed through for cutting. In the province of Teramo, famous local dishes include the virtù soup (made with legumes, vegetables and pork meat); the timballo (pasta sheets filled with meat, vegetables or rice); and the mazzarelle (lamb intestines filled with garlic, marjoram, lettuce, and various spices). The popularity of saffron, grown in the province of L’Aquila, has waned in recent years. The most famous dish of Molise is cavatelli, a long shaped, handmade maccheroni-type pasta made of flour, semolina and water, often served with meat sauce, broccoli or mushrooms. Pizzelle cookies are a common dessert, especially around Christmas.

Basilicata
The cuisine of Basilicata is mostly based on inexpensive ingredients and deeply anchored in rural traditions. Pork is an integral part of the regional cuisine, often made into sausages or roasted on a spit. Famous dry sausages from the region are lucanica and soppressata. Wild boar, mutton and lamb are also popular. Pasta sauces are generally based on meats or vegetables. Spicy peperoncini is largely used, as well as the so-called “peperoni cruschi” (crunchy peppers). The region produces cheeses like the Pecorino di Filiano PDO, Canestrato di Moliterno PGI, Pallone di Gravina and Paddraccio and olive oils like the Vulture PDO. Basilicata is known for spaghetti-like pasta troccoli and capunti, a thick and short oval pasta whose shape is often compared to that of an open empty pea pod. Capunti are usually served with a hearty vegetable tomato sauce or various meat sauces. Among the traditional dishes are lagane e ceci, also known as piatto del brigante (brigand’s dish), pasta prepared with chick peas and peeled tomatoes; rafanata, a type of omelette with horseradish; ciaudedda, a vegetable stew with artichokes, potatoes, broad beans and pancetta; and the baccalà alla lucana, one of the few recipes made with fish. Desserts include taralli dolci, made with sugar glaze and scented with anise; and calzoncelli, fried pastries filled with a cream of chestnuts and chocolate. The most famous wine of the region is the Aglianico del Vulture DOCG, others include Matera DOC, Terre dell’Alta Val d’Agri and Grottino di Roccanova. Basilicata is also known for its mineral waters which are sold widely in Italy. The springs are mostly located in the volcanic basin of the Vulture area.

Calabria
In Calabria, a history of French rule under the House of Anjou and Napoleon, along with Spanish influence, affected the language and culinary skills as seen in the naming of things such as cake, gatò, from the French gateau. Seafood includes swordfish, shrimp, lobster, sea urchin and squid. Macaroni-type pasta is widely used in regional dishes, often served with goat, beef or pork sauce and salty ricotta. Main courses include Frìttuli (prepared by boiling pork rind, meat and trimmings in pork fat), different varieties of spicy sausages (like Nduja and Capicola), goat and land snails. Melon and watermelon are traditionally served in a chilled fruit salad or wrapped in ham. Calabrian wines include Greco di Bianco, Bivongi, Cirò, Dominici, Lamezia, Melissa, Pollino, Sant’Anna di Isola Capo Rizzuto, San Vito di Luzzi, Savuto, Scavigna, Verbicaro. Another famous dish that has a Calabrese background is its famous Calabrese pizza. This pizza has a Neapolitan-based structure with fresh tomato sauce and a cheese base. However, what makes this type of pizza unique from others is its spicy, but rather tasty flavor. Some of the ingredients included in a Calabrese pizza are: thinly sliced hot soppressata, hot capicola, hot peppers and fresh mozzarella. A Calabrese style pizza has become a well known menu item in many Italian restaurants around the world.

Campania
Campania extensively produces tomatoes, peppers, spring onions, potatoes, artichokes, fennel, lemons and oranges which all take on the flavor of volcanic soil. The Gulf of Naples offers fish and seafood. Campania is one of the largest producers and consumers of pasta in Italy, especially spaghetti. In the regional cuisine, pasta is prepared in various styles that can feature tomato sauce, cheese, clams and shellfish. Spaghetti alla puttanesca is a popular dish made with olives, tomatoes, anchovies, capers, chili peppers and garlic. The region is well-known also for its mozzarella production (especially from the milk of water buffalo) that’s used in a variety of dishes, including parmigiana (shallow fried eggplant slices layered with cheese and tomato sauce, then baked). Desserts include struffoli (deep fried balls of dough) ricotta-based pastiera and sfogliatelle, and rum-dipped babà. Originating in Neapolitan cuisine, pizza has become popular in many different parts of the world. Pizza is an oven-baked, flat, disc-shaped bread typically topped with a tomato sauce, cheese (usually mozzarella) and various toppings depending on the culture. Since the original pizza, several other types of pizzas have evolved. Since Naples was the capital of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies, its cuisine took much from the culinary traditions of all the Campania region, reaching a balance between dishes based on rural ingredients (pasta, vegetables, cheese) and seafood dishes (fish, crustaceans, mollusks). A vast variety of recipes is influenced by the local aristocratic cuisine, like timballo and the sartù di riso, pasta or rice dishes with very elaborate preparation, while the dishes coming from the popular traditions contain inexpensive but nutritionally healthy ingredients, like pasta with beans and other pasta dishes with vegetables. Famous regional wines are Aglianico (Taurasi), Fiano, Falanghina, and Greco di Tufo.

Emilia-Romagna
Emilia-Romagna is known for its egg and filled pasta made with soft wheat flour. The Romagna subregion is known as well for pasta dishes like cappelletti, garganelli, strozzapreti, sfoglia lorda and tortelli alla lastra or very peculiar cheese like squacquerone, piada snacks are famous worldwide. In the Emilia subregion, except Piacenza which is heavily influenced by the cuisines of Lombardy, rice is eaten to a lesser extent. Polenta, a maize-based dish, is common both in Emilia and Romagna. Bologna and Modena are notable for pasta dishes like tortellini, lasagne, gramigna and tagliatelle which are found also in many other parts of the region in different declinations. The celebrated balsamic vinegar is made only in the Emilian cities of Modena and Reggio Emilia, following legally binding traditional procedures. Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is produced in Reggio Emilia, Parma, Modena and Bologna and is much used in cooking, while Grana Padano variety is produced in Piacenza. Although the Adriatic coast is a major fishing area (well known for its eels and clams), the region is more famous for its meat products, especially pork-based, that include: Parma’s prosciutto, culatello and Felino salami, Piacenza’s pancetta, coppa and salami, Bologna’s mortadella and salame rosa, Modena’s zampone, cotechino and cappello del prete and Ferrara‘s salama da sugo. Piacenza is also known for some dishes prepared with horse and donkey meat. Regional desserts include zuppa inglese (custard-based dessert made with sponge cake and Alchermes liqueur) and panpepato (Christmas cake made with pepper, chocolate, spices, and almonds).

Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Friuli-Venezia Giulia conserved, in its cuisine, the historical links with Austria-Hungary. Udine and Pordenone, in the western part of Friuli, are known for their traditional San Daniele del Friuli ham, Montasio cheese, and Frico cheese. Other typical dishes are pitina (meatballs made of smoked meats), game, and various types of gnocchi and polenta. The majority of the eastern regional dishes are heavily influenced by Austrian, Hungarian, Slovene and Croatian cuisines: typical dishes include Istrian Stew (soup of beans, sauerkraut, potatoes, bacon and spare ribs), Vienna sausages, goulash, ćevapi, apple strudel, gugelhupf. Pork can be spicy and is often prepared over an open hearth called a fogolar. Collio Goriziano, Friuli Isonzo, Colli Orientali del Friuli and Ramandolo are well-known DOC regional wines.

Liguria
Liguria is known for herbs and vegetables as well as seafood in its cuisine. Savory pies are popular, mixing greens and artichokes along with cheeses, milk curds and eggs. Onions and olive oil are used. Because of a lack of land suitable for wheat, the Ligurians use chickpeas in farinata and polenta-like panissa. The former is served plain or topped with onions, artichokes, sausage, cheese or young anchovies. Hilly districts use chestnuts as a source of carbohydrates. Ligurian pastas include corzetti from the Polcevera valley, pansoti, a triangular shaped ravioli filled with vegetables, piccagge, pasta ribbons made with a small amount of egg and served with artichoke sauce or pesto sauce, trenette, made from whole wheat flour cut into long strips and served with pesto, boiled beans and potatoes, and trofie, a Ligurian gnocchi made from whole grain flour and boiled potatoes, made into a spiral shape and often tossed in pesto. Many Ligurians emigrated to Argentina in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, influencing the cuisine of this country (which otherwise dominated by meat and dairy products which the narrow Ligurian hinterland would have not allowed).

Lazio
Pasta dishes based on the use of guanciale (unsmoked bacon prepared with pig’s jowl or cheeks) are often found in Lazio, such as pasta alla carbonara, and pasta all’amatriciana. Another pasta dish of the region is arrabbiata, with spicy tomato sauce. The regional cuisine widely use offal, resulting in dishes like the entrail-based rigatoni with pajata sauce and coda alla vaccinara. Iconic of Lazio is cheese made from ewes’ milk (Pecorino Romano), porchetta (savory, fatty, and moist boneless pork roast) and Frascati white wine. The influence of the ancient Jewish community can be noticed in the Roman cuisine’s traditional carciofi alla giudia.

Lombardy
The regional cuisine of Lombardy is heavily based upon ingredients like maize, rice, beef, pork, butter, and lard. Rice dishes are very popular in this region, often found in soups as well as risotto. The best-known version is risotto alla milanese, flavoured with saffron and typically served with many typical Milanese main courses, such as ossobuco alla milanese (cross-cut veal shanks braised with vegetables, white wine and broth) and cotoletta alla milanese (a fried cutlet similar to Wiener schnitzel, but cooked “bone-in”). Other regional specialities include cassoeula (a typical winter dish prepared with cabbage and pork), Cremona‘s Mostarda (rich condiment made with candied fruit and a mustard flavoured syrup), Valtellina‘s Bresaola (air-dried salted beef) and Pizzoccheri (a flat ribbon pasta, made with 80% buckwheat flour and 20% wheat flour cooked along with greens, cubed potatoes and layered with pieces of Valtellina Casera cheese) and Mantua‘s tortelli di zucca (ravioli with pumpkin filling) accompanied by melted butter and followed by turkey stuffed with chicken or other stewed meats. Regional cheeses include Robiola, Crescenza, Taleggio, Gorgonzola and Grana Padano (the plains of central and southern Lombardy allow intensive cattle-raising). Polenta is generally common across the region. Regional desserts include the famous panettone Christmas cake (sweet bread with candied orange, citron, and lemon zest, as well as raisins, which are added dry and not soaked).

Marche
On the coast of Marche, fish and seafood are produced. Inland, wild and domestic pigs are used for sausages and hams. These hams are not thinly sliced, but cut into bite-sized chunks. Suckling pig, chicken and fish are often stuffed with rosemary or fennel fronds and garlic before being roasted or placed on the spit. Ascoli Piceno, Marche’s southernmost province, is well known for Olive all’ascolana, (stoned olives stuffed with several minced meats, egg and Parmesan, then fried). Another well-known Marche product are the Maccheroncini di Campofilone, from little town of Campofilone, a kind of hand-made pasta made only of hard grain flour and eggs, cut so thin that melts in the mouth (The Food and Cuisine of Marche).

Piedmont
Between the Alps and the Po valley, with a large number of different ecosystems, this region offers the most refined and varied cuisine of the Italian peninsula. Point of union of traditional Italian and French cuisine, Piedmont is the Italian region with the largest number of cheeses Protected Geographical Status and wines Denominazione di origine controllata. It is also the region where both Slow Food association and the most prestigious school of Italian cooking, the University of Gastronomic Sciences, were founded. Piedmont is a region where gathering nuts, mushrooms, cardoons and hunting and fishing takes place. Truffles, garlic, seasonal vegetables, cheese and rice are all used. Wines from the Nebbiolo grape such as Barolo and Barbaresco are produced as well as wines from the Barbera grape, fine sparkling wines, and the sweet, lightly sparkling, Moscato d’Asti The region is also famous for its Vermouth and Ratafia production. Castelmagno is a prized cheese of the region. Piedmont is also famous for the quality of its Carrù beef (particularly famous for its fair of the “Bue Grasso”, Fat Ox), hence the tradition of eating raw meat seasoned with garlic oil, lemon and salt the famous Carpaccio, the famous Brasato al vino, wine stew made from marinated beef, and boiled beef served with various sauces. The food most typical of the Piedmont tradition are its traditional agnolotti (pasta folded over with a roast beef meat and vegetable stuffing), Panissa (a typical dish of Vercelli, a kind of risotto with Arborio rice or Maratelli rice, the typical kind of Saluggia beans, onion, Barbera wine, lard, salami, salt and pepper), taglierini (thinner version of tagliatelle), bagna cauda (sauce of garlic, anchovies, olive oil and butter) and bicerin (hot drink made of coffee, chocolate and whole milk). Finally Piedmont is one of the Italian capitals of pastry and chocolate in particular, with products like Nutella, gianduiotto and marron glacé that are famous worldwide.

Puglia (Apulia)
Apulia is a massive food producer: major production includes wheat, tomatoes, zucchini, broccoli, bell peppers, potatoes, spinach, eggplants, cauliflower, fennel, endive, chickpeas, lentils, beans and cheese (like the traditional caciocavallo cheese). Apulia is also the largest producer of olive oil in Italy. The sea offers abundant fish and seafood that are extensively used in the regional cuisine, especially oysters, and mussels. Goat and lamb are occasionally used. The region is known for pasta made from durum wheat and traditional pasta dishes featuring orecchiette-type pasta, often served with tomato sauce, potatoes, mussels or cime di rapa. Pasta with cherry tomatoes and arugula is also popular. Regional desserts include zeppola, doughnuts usually topped with powdered sugar and filled with custard, jelly, cannoli-style pastry cream or a butter-and-honey mixture. For Christmas, Apulians make a very traditional rose shape pastry called Cartellate. These are fried and dipped in Vin Cotto which is a reduction of wine or in some cases of fig juice.

Sardinia
Suckling pig and wild boar are roasted on the spit or boiled in stews of beans and vegetables, thickened with bread. Herbs such as mint and myrtle are widely used in the regional cuisine. Sardinia also has many special types of bread, made dry, which keeps longer than high-moisture breads. Also baked are carasau bread civraxiu, coccoi pinatus, a highly decorative bread, and pistoccu made with flour and water only, originally meant for herders, but often served at home with tomatoes, basil, oregano, garlic and a strong cheese. Rock lobster, scampi, squid, tuna, sardines are the predominant seafoods. Casu marzu is a very strong cheese produced in Sardinia, but is of questionable legality due to hygiene concerns.

Sicily
Sicily shows traces of all the cultures which established themselves on the island over the last two millennia. Although its cuisine undoubtably has a predominantly Italian base, Sicilian food also has Spanish, Greek and Arab influences. Dionysus is said to have introduced wine to the region: a trace of historical influence from Ancient Greece. The ancient Romans introduced lavish dishes based on goose. The Byzantines favored sweet and sour flavors and the Arabs brought sugar, citrus, rice, spinach, and saffron. The Normans and Hohenstaufens had a fondness for meat dishes. The Spanish introduced items from the New World including chocolate, maize, turkey and tomatoes. Much of the island’s cuisine encourages the use of fresh vegetables such as eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes, and fish such as tuna, sea bream, sea bass, cuttlefish, and swordfish. In Trapani, in the extreme western corner of the island, North African influences are clear in the use of various couscous based dishes, usually combined with fish. mint is used extensively in cooking unlike the rest of Italy. Traditional specialties from Sicily include arancini (a form of deep-fried rice croquettes), pasta alla Norma, caponata, pani ca meusa, and a host of desserts and sweets such as cannoli, granita, and cassata). Typical of Sicily is Marsala, a red, fortified wine similar to Port and largely exported.

Trentino-Alto Adige
Before the Council of Trent in the middle of the 16th century, the region was known for the simplicity of its peasant cuisine. When the prelates of the Catholic Church established there, they brought the art of fine cooking with them. Later, also influences from Venice and the Austrian Habsburg Empire came in. The Trentino subregion produces various types of sausages, polenta, yogurt, cheese, potato cake, funnel cake and freshwater fish. In the Südtirol (Alto Adige) subregion, due to the German-speaking majority population, strong Austrian and Slavic influences prevail. The most renowned local product is traditional speck juniper-flavored ham which, as Speck Alto Adige PGI, is regulated by the European Union under the protected geographical indication (PGI) status. Goulash, knödel, apple strudel, kaiserschmarrn, krapfen, rösti, spätzle and rye bread are regular dishes, along with potatoes, dumpling, homemade sauerkraut, and lard. The territory of Bolzano is also reputed for its Müller-Thurgau white wines (The Food and Cuisine of Trentino Alto Adige).

Tuscany
Simplicity is central to the Tuscan cuisine. Legumes, bread, cheese, vegetables, mushrooms and fresh fruit are used. A good example would be ribollita, a notable Tuscan soup whose name literally means “reboiled”. Like most Tuscan cuisine, the soup has peasant origins. It was originally made by reheating (i.e. reboiling) the leftover minestrone or vegetable soup from the previous day. There are many variations but the main ingredients always include leftover bread, cannellini beans and inexpensive vegetables such as carrot, cabbage, beans, silverbeet, cavolo nero (Tuscan kale), onion and olive oil. A regional Tuscan pasta known as pici resembles thick, grainy-surfaced spaghetti, and is often rolled by hand. White truffles from San Miniato appear in October and November. High-quality beef, used for the traditional Florentine steak, come from the Chianina cattle breed of the Chiana Valley and the Maremmana from Maremma. Pork is also produced. The region is well-known also for its rich game, especially wild boar, hare, fallow deer, roe deer and pheasant that often are used to prepare pappardelle dishes. Regional desserts include panforte (prepared with honey, fruits and nuts), ricciarelli (biscuits made using an almond base with sugar, honey and egg white), and cavallucci (cookies made with almonds, candied fruits, coriander, flour, honey). Well-known regional wines include Brunello di Montalcino, Carmignano, Chianti, Morellino di Scansano, Parrina, Sassicaia, Vernaccia di San Gimignano.

Umbria
Many Umbrian dishes are prepared by boiling or roasting with local olive oil and herbs. Vegetable dishes are popular in the spring and summer, while fall and winter sees meat from hunting and black truffles from Norcia. Meat dishes include the traditional wild boar sausages, pheasants, geese, pigeons, frogs, snails. Castelluccio is known for its lentils, Spoleto and Monteleone are known for spelt. Freshwater fish include lasca, trout, freshwater perch, grayling, eel, barbel, whitefish, and tench. Orvieto and Sagrantino di Montefalco are important regional wines (The Food and Cuisine of Umbria).

Valle d’Aosta
In the Aosta Valley, bread-thickened soups are customary as well as cheese fondue, chestnuts, potatoes, rice. Polenta is a staple along with rye bread, smoked bacon, Motsetta (cured chamois meat) and game from the mountains and forests. Butter and cream are important in stewed, roasted and braised dishes. Typical regional products include Fontina cheese, Vallée d’Aoste Lard d’Arnad, red wines and Génépi Artemisia-based liqueur (The Food and Cuisine of The Aosta Valley).

Veneto
Venice and many surrounding parts of Veneto are known for risotto, a dish whose ingredients can highly vary upon different areas, as fish and seafood being added closer to the coast and pumpkin, asparagus, radicchio and frogs’ legs appearing further away from the Adriatic. Made from finely ground maize meal, polenta is a traditional, rural food typical of Veneto and most of Northern Italy. It may find its way into stirred dishes and baked dishes and can be served with various cheese, stockfish or meat dishes. Some polenta dishes includes porcini, rapini, or other vegetables or meats, such as small song-birds in the case of the Venetian and Lombardy dish polenta e osei, or sausages. In some areas of Veneto it can be also made of a particular variety of cornmeal, named biancoperla, so that the colour of polenta is white and not yellow (the so-called polenta bianca). Beans, peas and other legumes are seen in these areas with pasta e fagioli (beans and pasta) and risi e bisi (rice and peas). Veneto features heavy dishes using exotic spices and sauces. Ingredients such as stockfish or simple marinated anchovies are found here as well. Less fish and more meat is eaten away from the coast. Other typical products are sausages such as Soppressa Vicentina, garlic salami, Piave cheese and Asiago cheese. High quality vegetables are prized, such as red radicchio from Treviso and white asparagus from Bassano del Grappa. Perhaps the most popular dish of Venice is fegato alla veneziana, thinly-sliced veal liver sauteed with onions. Squid and cuttlefish are common ingredients, as is squid ink, called nero di seppia. Regional desserts include tiramisu (made of biscuits dipped in coffee, layered with a whipped mixture of egg yolks and mascarpone, and flavored with liquor and cocoa), baicoli (biscuits made with butter and vanilla) and nougat. The most celebrated Veneto wines include Bardolino, Prosecco, Soave, Amarone and Valpolicella DOC wines.

Desserts
From the Italian perspective, cookies and candy belong to the same category of sweets. Traditional candies include candied fruits, torrone, and nut brittles, all of which are still popular in the modern era. In medieval times, northern Italy became so famous for the quality of its stiff fruit pastes (similar to marmalade or conserves, except stiff enough to mold into shapes) that “Paste of Genoa” became a generic name for high-quality fruit conserves. ilver-coated almond dragées, which are called confetti, are thrown at weddings. The idea of including a romantic note with candy may have begun with Italian dragées, no later than the early 19th century, and is carried on with the multilingual love notes included in boxes of Italy’s most famous chocolate, Baci by Perugina in Milan. The most significant chocolate style is a combination of hazelnuts and milk chocolate, which is featured in gianduja pastes like Nutella, as well as Perugnia’s Baci and many other chocolate confections Italian desserts, Italian dishes—Desserts and pastry and Sicilian cuisine—Desserts and sweets).

Drinks
Italian style coffee (caffè), also known as espresso, is made from a blend of coffee beans. Espresso beans are roasted medium to medium dark in the north, and darker as you move south. Espresso is usually served in a demitasse cup. Caffè macchiato is topped with a bit of steamed milk or foam; ristretto is made with less water, and is stronger; cappuccino is mixed or topped with steamed, mostly frothy, milk. It is generally considered a morning beverage, and usually is not taken after a meal; caffelatte is equal parts espresso and steamed milk, similar to café au lait, and is typically served in a large cup. Latte macchiato (spotted milk) is a glass of warm milk with a bit of coffee and caffè corretto is “corrected” with a few drops of an alcoholic beverage such as grappa or brandy. The bicerin is also an Italian coffee, from Turin. It is a mixture of cappuccino and traditional hot chocolate, as it consists of a mix of coffee and drinking chocolate, and with a small addition of milk. It is quite thick, and often whipped cream/foam with chocolate powder and sugar is added on top. Italy produces the largest amount of wine in the world and is both the largest exporter and consumer of wine. Only about a quarter of this wine is put into bottles for individual sale. Two-thirds is bulk wine used for blending in France and Germany. The wine distilled into spirits in Italy exceeds the production of wine in the entirety of the New World. There are twenty separate wine regions. There are also several other popular alcoholic drinks in Italy. Limoncello, a traditional lemon liqueur from Sicily and Southern Italy (Sorrento, Amalfi and the Gulf of Naples) in general, is one of the most common. Made from lemon, it is an extremely strong drink which is usually consumed in very small proportions, in small glasses or cups. Amaro Sicilianos are common Sicilian digestifs, made with herbs, which are usually drunk after heavy meals. Mirto, an herbal distillate made from the berries (red mirto) and leaves (white mirto) of the myrtle bush, is popular in Sardinia and other regions. Another well-known digestif is Amaro Lucano from Basilicata. Grappa is the typical alcoholic drink of northern Italy, generally associated with the culture of the Alps and of the Po Valley. The most famous grappas are distilled in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Veneto, Piedmont and Trentino. The three most notable and recognizable Italian aperitifs are Martini, Vermouth and Campari. A sparkling drink which is becoming internationally popular as a less expensive substitute for French champagne is prosecco, from the Veneto region. Read more on Wikivoyage Italian cuisine and Wikipedia Italian cuisine.


Latvian dinner © flickr.com - aigarius/cc-by-2.0

Latvian dinner © flickr.com – aigarius/cc-by-2.0

Latvian cuisine
Latvian cuisine typically consists of agricultural products, with meat featuring in most main meal dishes. Fish is commonly consumed due to Latvia’s location on the east coast of the Baltic Sea. Latvian cuisine has been influenced by other countries of the Baltic rim. Common ingredients in Latvian recipes are found locally, such as potatoes, wheat, barley, cabbage, onions, eggs and pork. The Latvian cuisine is markedly seasonal – due to pronounced four seasons in the climate of Latvia, each time of the year has its own distinctive products, tastes and flavors. Latvian food is generally quite fatty, and uses few spices.

Meals
Contemporary Latvians usually eat three meals a day. Breakfast is normally light and usually consists of sandwiches or an omelette, with a drink, often milk. Lunch is eaten from noon to 3 p.m. and tends to be the main meal of the day; as such it can include a variety of foods, and sometimes also soup as an entrée and a dessert. Supper is the last meal of the day, with some choosing to eat another large meal. Consumption of ready-made or frozen meals is now common.

Common foods and dishes
Latvian cuisine is typical of the Baltic region and, in general, of northern countries. The food is high in butter and fat while staying low in spices except for black pepper, dill or grains/seeds, such as caraway seeds. Latvian cuisine originated from the peasant culture and is strongly based on crops that grow in Latvia’s maritime, temperate climate. Rye or wheat, oats, peas, beets, cabbage, pork products and potatoes are the staples. Meat features in most main meal dishes. But fish also is commonly consumed due to Latvia’s location on the east coast of the Baltic Sea: smoked and raw fish are quite common. Latvian cuisine offers plenty of varieties of bread and milk products, which are an important part of the cuisine. A lot of popular dishes in contemporary Latvia come directly from other countries, at times as a result of their historical domination. For example dishes adopted from Soviet cuisine include siļķe kažokā (herring and beetroot salad), various dumplings, šašliks (shashlik) and many others. The most popular alcoholic beverage is beer. A national liquor is Riga Black Balsam.

Milk products
Latvia is much richer in milk products than other Western countries. Biezpiens (cottage cheese), skābais krējums (sour cream), rūgušpiens (soured milk) and a lot of varieties of cheeses with different flavors are available. A cheese similar to smoked gouda, but softer, is the cheapest and, arguably, tastiest variety. There are various tastes available for purchase in most grocery stores. A Latvian specialty is the biezpiena sieriņš, which is pressed cottage cheese with a sweet taste (the most popular manufacturers of the snack are Kārums and Baltais). A traditional Latvian cheese is Jāņu siers (caraway cheese); this is traditionally served during the celebration of Jāņi or midsummer.

Soups
Soups are commonly made with vegetables and broth or milk. Noodle soup, beet soup, sorrel soup and nettle soup are also consumed by Latvians. A traditional Latvian dessert is maizes zupa (literally “bread soup”), which is the sweet soup made from rye bread, whipped cream and fruits.

Breads
Rupjmaize is a dark bread made from rye, and is considered a national staple. Pīrādziņi are buns filled with bacon and onion. Kliņģeris is a sweet pretzel-shaped bread that is usually served as a dessert on special occasions, such as name day. Sklandrausis (or sklandu rausis) is traditional dish in Latvian cuisine which has a Livonian origin; it’s a sweet pie, made of rye dough and filled with potato and carrot paste and seasoned with caraway.

Mushrooms
Latvia has ancient traditions involving edible mushrooms. Picking wild mushrooms is very popular in autumn. Modern as well as traditional mushroom preparation is very popular. There are around 4100 mushroom species in Latvia, 1100 of those are cup mushrooms. About ¼ of these are edible. The most popular edible ones are various Boletus and Cantharellus. Read more on Wikipedia Latvian cuisine.


Fish dish in Klaipėda © flickr.com - Anders Rune Jensen/cc-by-sa-2.0

Fish dish in Klaipėda © flickr.com – Anders Rune Jensen/cc-by-sa-2.0

Lithuanian cuisine
Lithuanian cuisine features products suited to the cool and moist northern climate of Lithuania: barley, potatoes, rye, beets, greens, berries, and mushrooms are locally grown, and dairy products are one of its specialties. Since it shares its climate and agricultural practices with Northern Europe, Lithuanian cuisine has much in common with its Baltic neighbors and, in general, northern countries. It also shares some traditions with Polish and Ukrainian that date back to the grand duchy times. Also, Hungarian, German, and Georgian cuisines as well as Ashkenazi cuisine. Nevertheless, it has its own distinguishing features, which were formed by a variety of influences during the country’s long, difficult and interesting history. German traditions have had a big influence on Lithuanian cuisine, introducing pork and potato dishes, such as potato pudding (kugelis or kugel) and intestines stuffed with mashed potato (vėdarai), as well as the baroque tree cake known as Šakotis. Despite the apparent richness of the cuisine, Lithuania has a very low prevalence of obesity.

Bread
Traditionally, the centerpiece of Lithuanian cuisine is dark rye bread (ruginė duona) which is used more often than light wheat breads. The dough is usually based on a sourdough starter, and includes some wheat flour to lighten the finished product. Rye bread is often eaten as an open-faced sandwich, buttered or spread with cheese . It is sometimes flavored with caraway, or with some onion. Some varieties of Lithuanian bread contain whole seeds of rye and wheat; this type of bread is referred to as grūdėtoji, i.e. “seeded” bread. Two types of bagel, Riestainis, and Džiuvėsis, are produced here, also.

Vegetables and spices
The most commonly used vegetable in Lithuanian recipes is the potato; in its simplest forms, it is boiled, baked, or sauteed, often garnished with dill, but a tremendous variety of potato recipes exist. Potatoes were introduced into Lithuania in the late 18th century, were found to prosper in its climate, and soon became indispensable. Cucumbers, dill pickles, radishes and greens are quite popular. Beets (burokai) are grown more widely than in other areas of the world, and are often used for making borscht and side dishes. Cabbage is another popular vegetable, used as a basis for soups, or wrapped around fillings (balandėliai). Tomatoes are now available year-round in stores, but those home-grown in family greenhouses are still considered superior. Lithuanian herbs and seasonings include mustard seed, dill (krapai), caraway seed (kmynai), garlic, bay leaf, juniper berries, and fruit essences. Vanilla and pepper were scarce during the Soviet era, but were welcomed back after independence. The cuisine is relatively mild.

Berries and mushrooms
One of the prides of Lithuanian cuisine is its wide use of wild berries and mushrooms. Mushrooming is a popular pastime from mid-summer to autumn. As a staple, mushrooms are usually harvested in the forest; occasionally they are purchased at roadside markets, especially on the road in the Dzūkija region from Druskininkai to Vilnius; the purchasing of mushrooms in shops is rare. Despite its status as a delicacy, mushrooms are thought of by many Lithuanians as hard to digest. Baravykas is the most valued and sought-after species; the primary usages are drying and marinating. Dried baravykas has a strong pleasant scent and is used as seasoning in soups and sauces. Voveraitė is often used fresh as a seasoning in soups or sauteed. Most common dish of this mushroom is voveraitė sauteed with chopped bulb onions and potatoes. Gudukas, arguably the most locally abundant of edible mushrooms due to its lower popularity, is usually marinated. Other edible mushrooms, such as lepšė, raudonviršis or raudonikis (literally, “red-topped”), makavykas, šilbaravykis, are more rare, but are also gathered and may be used in the same ways as baravykas. Wild berries are also gathered or, even more frequently than mushrooms, purchased at roadside markets or shops. Bilberries and lingonberries are the two most abundant species of wild berries. Cranberries are valued, but their cultivation is limited to certain boggy areas, such as those adjacent to Čepkeliai Marsh. Sour cranberry or lingonberry jam and sweet bilberry jam are all considered excellent sauces for pancakes. Lingonberry jam is occasionally used as a dressing for fried chicken or turkey or as a sauce for other savory dishes. Fresh bilberries may be put into a cold milk soup. Wild strawberries are relatively scarce and are usually gathered for immediate consumption.

Fruit
Apples, plums, and pears, which grow well in Lithuania, are the most commonly used fruit. Because they cannot tolerate frost, tropical fruit such as citrus, bananas, and pineapples must be imported, and hence were used less often in the past; however, these fruits are now becoming more typical and are widely consumed. During the autumn harvest, fruit is often simmered and spiced to create fruit stews (kompots). Gooseberries (agrastai) and currants (serbentai) are widely cultivated; they are sweetened, made into jams and baked goods, and provide a piquant touch to desserts.

Meat
The most frequently used meat is pork, followed by beef, lamb, chicken, rabbit, duck and goose; for immediate consumption it is often grilled, or dusted with breadcrumbs and sauteed, in a dish similar to schnitzel. For bigger gatherings, oven roasts are prepared. The need for meat preservation no longer presents the urgency that it did during the Soviet occupation or previous times of trouble, but many favorite techniques survive, include brining, salting, drying and smoking. There are many varieties of smoked pork, including ham and a soft sausage with a large-grained filling; these are served as a main course or thinly sliced in sandwiches.

Fish
Fish, such as pike or perch, are often baked whole or stuffed, or made into gefilte fish. Herring is marinated, baked, fried, or served in aspic. Smoked fish such as eel or bream are popular entrees and appetizers in areas near the Baltic Sea, especially in Neringa. Crayfish are also popular and are usually eaten in the summertime.

Beer
Lithuania is not very well known for its beer, but it is one of the few countries in Europe to have an independent beer tradition in which breweries do not simply brew beers in styles developed elsewhere. Traditional farmhouse brewing has survived into the present day in Lithuania, and during Soviet times such brewing started to be expanded to a larger scale. After independence this process gathered speed, and soon there were more than 200 breweries in the country. Many of these have since gone out of business, but Lithuania still has about 80 breweries, of which perhaps 60-70 produce beers in styles unknown in the rest of the world. Some of these are very close to the traditional brews made by farmers, while others have developed out of that tradition as a consequence of the growth of the traditional brewers into reasonably large regional breweries. The microbrewery scene in Lithuania has been growing in later years, with a number of bars focusing on these beers popping up in Vilnius and also in other parts of the country. Locals beers have started to attract international attention after beer bloggers discovered the country, inspiring a major feature article in Beer Connoiseur magazine, prompting the New York Times to list Lithuania as one of the 42 places to visit in 2013 on the strength of the village beers. Read more on Wikipedia Lithuanian cuisine.


Judd mat Gaardebounen - Smoked Collar of Pork with Broad Beans © flickr com - UnorthodoxY/cc-by-sa-2.0

Judd mat Gaardebounen – Smoked Collar of Pork with Broad Beans © flickr com – UnorthodoxY/cc-by-sa-2.0

Luxembourg cuisine
Luxembourgish cuisine reflects Luxembourg’s position between the Latin and Germanic countries, influenced by the cuisines of neighbouring France, Belgium and Germany. Recently, it has been influenced by the country’s few Italian and Portuguese immigrants. As in Germany, most traditional everyday Luxembourg dishes are of peasant origin, in contrast to the more sophisticated peasant French fare.

Food
Luxembourg has many delicacies. In addition to French pâtisseries, cake and fruit pies, local pastries include the Bretzel, a Lent speciality; Quetscheflued, a zwetschge tart; verwurelt Gedanken or Verwurelter, small sugar-coated doughnuts; and Äppelklatzen, apples en croûte. Luxembourg’s cheese speciality is Kachkéis or Cancoillotte, a soft cheese spread. Fish from the local rivers such as trout, pike, and crayfish are the basis for dishes such as F’rell am Rèisleck (trout in Riesling sauce), Hiecht mat Kraiderzooss (pike in green sauce) and Kriibsen (crayfish), usually prepared in a Riesling sauce. Another favourite is Fritür or Friture de la Moselle, small fried fish from the River Moselle, accompanied by a local Moselle white wine. Meat dishes include cold Éisleker Ham, literally Oesling ham, from the mountainous north of the country, first marinated for a couple of weeks and then smoked for several days. It is usually served thinly sliced with chipped potatoes and salad. Perhaps the most traditional of all Luxembourg meat dishes is Judd mat Gaardebounen, smoked collar of pork with broad beans. The pork is soaked overnight, then boiled with vegetables and spices. Served in copious slices together with the beans and boiled potatoes, it is considered to be the national dish of Luxembourg. Hong am Rèisleck, similar to the French Coq au Riesling, consists of browned chicken pieces simmered in white wine with vegetables, spices and mushrooms. Huesenziwwi or Civet de lièvre is a jugged hare dish served during the hunting season. Other dishes include liver dumplings (quenelle) with sauerkraut and boiled potatoes, Träipen (black pudding) with apple sauce, sausages with mashed potatoes and horseradish, and green bean soup (Bouneschlupp). French cuisine is featured prominently on many menus, as well as certain dishes from Germany and Belgium.

Wine and beer
Wine, mostly dry white wine, and sparkling wine is produced in Luxembourg, along the north bank of the Moselle, which has a winemaking history dating back to the Romans. The main varieties are Riesling, Pinot gris, Pinot blanc, Chardonnay, Auxerrois, Gewürztraminer, Rivaner, Elbling, Pinot noir, and Crémant de Luxembourg. The Marque Nationale, on the rear of every bottle of Luxembourg wine, confirms its origin and states its quality level. Beer, which is quite a popular drink in Luxembourg, is produced locally at three large breweries as well as in a couple of smaller establishments. Most of the beer brewed in Luxembourg is lager but there are also a number of special beers as well as beers without alcohol and Christmas beer in December. The main brands of beer are Bofferding, who also produce Battin; Mousel and Diekirch, who share the same brewery in Diekirch; and Simon. Since the 2000s there has been a resurgence of local microbreweries creating craft beer such as, Beierhaascht, Ourdaller and Grand Brewing. Read more on Wikipedia Luxembourg cuisine.


Octopus salad © Justlettersandnumbers/cc-by-sa-4.0

Octopus salad © Justlettersandnumbers/cc-by-sa-4.0

Maltese cuisine
Maltese cuisine reflects Maltese history, it shows strong Sicilian and English influences as well as Spanish, French, Maghrebin, Provençal, and other Mediterranean cuisines. Having to import most of its foodstuffs, being positioned along important trade routes, and having to cater for the resident foreign powers who ruled the islands, opened Maltese cuisine to outside influences. The traditional Maltese stewed rabbit (fenek) is often identified as the national dish.

History
Malta’s history and geography had an important influence on its cuisine. Having to import most of its foodstuffs, being positioned along important trade routes, and having to cater for the resident foreign powers who ruled the islands, opened Maltese cuisine to outside influences from very early on. Foreign dishes and tastes were absorbed, transformed and adapted. Italian (specifically Sicilian), Middle Eastern and Arabic foods exerted a strong influence, but the presence in Malta of the Knights of St John and, more recently, the British brought elements from further afield. The Knights hailed from many European countries; particularly, France, Italy and Spain. They brought influences from these countries. Aljotta, for example, a fish broth with plenty of garlic, herbs, and tomatoes, is the Maltese adaptation of bouillabaisse. The Knights’ contacts and wealth brought also food from the New World; it has been suggested that Malta may have been one of the first countries in Europe (after Spain) where chocolate was first tasted. The British military presence meant a market of a garrison and their families and, later, mass tourism from the UK. British food products, condiments and sauces like English mustard, Bovril, HP Sauce and Worcestershire sauce are still a subtle but pervasive presence in Maltese cooking. Other imports were only nominal. While the Maltese word “aljoli” is likely to be a loan word, the Maltese version of the sauce does not include any egg as in aioli; instead it is based on herbs, olives, anchovies and olive oil. Similarly, while the Maltese word “taġen” is related to “tajine” in Maltese the word refers exclusively to a metal frying pan.

Cuisine and identity
There are a number of junctures in which development in Maltese cuisine related to issues of identity. The most significant example is the traditional Maltese stuffat tal-fenek (stewed rabbit), often identified as the national dish, quite possibly started off as a form of symbolic resistance to the hunting restrictions imposed by the Knights of St John. The dish was to become popular after the lifting of restrictions in the late 18th century (and by which time the indigenous breed had multiplied and prices dropped) and the domestication of rabbits, a technique which could have been imported from France thanks to the French Knights. The popularity of pork and its presence in various dishes could be attributed to Malta being on the edge of the Christian world. Consuming a food which is taboo in the Muslim culinary culture could have been a way of self-identification by distinguishing oneself from the other. In addition to pork dishes (such as grilled pork cuts or stuffed flank) and the exclusive predominance of pork in indigenous Maltese sausages, adding some pork to dishes such as kawlata (a vegetable soup) and ross il-forn (baked rice) has been common practice in the Maltese vernacular cuisine for centuries.

Regional
Despite Malta’s small size there are some regional variations. This is especially the case with Gozo. This is evidenced in some names such as the Gozitan cheeselet (ġbejna t’Għawdex) and ftira Għawdxija, flatbread topped or filled with potatoes or ġbejniet with eggs, grated cheese, tomatoes, anchovies, olives, ricotta and Maltese sausage as other possible ingredients. Other Gozitan variants include the use of ingredients. Gozitan cheeselets, for example, are used as filling for ravioli instead of the usual ricotta.

Seasonal
The strongest seasonal variations are seen in desserts and sweets. Prinjolata, kwareżimal, karamelli tal-ħarrub, ftira tar-Randan, figolla and qagħaq tal-għasel are all examples of sweets associated with a particular season. Because Catholic fasting during Lent involved mostly meats and dairy products, fish such as Lampuki were a popular dish during this period as were stewed snails (Maltese: bebbux), stuffed artichokes (Maltese: qaqoċċ mimli) and fritters (Maltese: sfineġ) of ġbejna, vegetables or fish (particularly whitebait and salted cod). During the Holy Week bakers also bake a large bagel typically studded with some almonds on top called qagħqa tal-appostli (lit. apostles’ bagel). Usually coinciding with the spring, there are also seasonal variations to certain dishes at the time of Lent as in, for example, adding fresh broad beans to dishes such as kusksu (a vegetable and pasta dish). During the month of November għadam tal-mejtin (lit. bones of the dead, in Italian: ossa dei morti) are prepared. These are similar to figolla but made in the shape of a bone. Read more on Wikipedia Maltese cuisine.


Bigos served in a bread bowl © JIP/cc-by-sa-3.0

Bigos served in a bread bowl © JIP/cc-by-sa-3.0

Polish cuisine
Polish cuisine is a style of cooking and food preparation originating in or widely popular in Poland. Polish cuisine has evolved over the centuries to become very eclectic due to Poland’s history. Polish cuisine shares many similarities with other Slavic countries, especially Czech, Slovak and Ruthenian. It has also been widely influenced by other Central European cuisines, namely German, Austrian and Hungarian cuisines as well as Jewish, French, Turkish and Italian culinary traditions. It is rich in meat, especially pork, chicken and beef (depending on the region), winter vegetables (cabbage in the dish bigos), spices, and herbs. It is also characteristic in its use of various kinds of noodles the most notable of which are kluski as well as cereals (grains) such as kasha. Generally speaking, Polish cuisine is hearty and uses a lot of cream and eggs. The traditional dishes are often demanding in preparation. Many Poles allow themselves a generous amount of time to serve and enjoy their festive meals, especially Christmas eve dinner (Wigilia) or Easter breakfast which could take a number of days to prepare in their entirety.

The Polish national dishes are bigos, pierogi, kiełbasa, kotlet schabowy (pork loin breaded cutlet), gołąbki (type of cabbage roll), zrazy (type of roulade), roast, sour cucumber soup, mushroom soup (quite different from the North American cream of mushroom), tomato soup, rosół (variety of meat broth), żurek (sour rye soup), flaki (variety of tripe soup), and barszcz among others.

The main meal might be eaten about 2 p.m. or later. It is larger than the North American lunch. It might be composed of three courses especially among the traditionalists, starting with a soup like a popular rosół and tomato soup or more festive barszcz (beet borscht) or żurek (sour rye meal mash), followed perhaps in a restaurant by an appetizer such as herring (prepared in either cream, oil, or in aspic); or other cured meats and vegetable salads. The main course usually includes a serving of meat, such as roast or kotlet schabowy (breaded pork cutlet), or chicken. Vegetables, currently replaced by leafy green salads, were not very long ago most commonly served as surówka – shredded root vegetables with lemon and sugar (carrot, celeriac, seared beetroot) or sauerkraut. The side dishes are usually boiled potatoes, rice or more traditionally kasza (cereals). Meals often conclude with a dessert such as makowiec, a poppy seed pastry, or drożdżówka, a type of yeast cake. Other Polish specialities include chłodnik (a chilled beet or fruit soup for hot days), golonka (pork knuckles cooked with vegetables), kołduny (meat dumplings), zrazy (stuffed slices of beef), salceson and flaki (tripe). Read more on Wikipedia Polish cuisine.


Grilled Sardines © flickr.com - Michael Coghlan/cc-by-sa-2.0

Grilled Sardines © flickr.com – Michael Coghlan/cc-by-sa-2.0

Portuguese cuisine
Despite being relatively restricted to an Atlantic sustenance, Portuguese cuisine has many Mediterranean influences. Portuguese cuisine is famous for seafood. The influence of Portugal’s former colonial possessions is also notable, especially in the wide variety of spices used. These spices include piri piri (small, fiery chili peppers) and black pepper, as well as cinnamon, vanilla and saffron. Olive oil is one of the bases of Portuguese cuisine, which is used both for cooking and flavouring meals. Garlic is widely used, as are herbs, such as bay leaf and parsley.

Fish and seafood
Portugal is a seafaring nation with a well-developed fishing industry and this is reflected in the amount of fish and seafood eaten. The country has Europe’s highest fish consumption per capita and is among the top four in the world for this indicator. Fish is served grilled, boiled (including poached and simmered), fried or deep-fried, stewed (often in clay pot cooking), roasted, or even steamed. Foremost amongst these is bacalhau (cod), which is the type of fish most consumed in Portugal. It is said that there are more than 365 ways to cook cod, one for every day of the year. Cod is almost always used dried and salted, because the Portuguese fishing tradition in the North Atlantic developed before the invention of refrigeration—therefore it needs to be soaked in water or sometimes milk before cooking. The simpler fish dishes are often flavoured with virgin olive oil and white wine vinegar. Portugal has been fishing and trading cod since the 15th century, and this cod trade accounts for its ubiquity in the cuisine. Other popular seafood includes fresh sardines (especially when grilled as sardinhas assadas), octopus, squid, cuttlefish, crabs, shrimp and prawns, lobster, spiny lobster, and many other crustaceans, such as barnacles and goose barnacles, hake, horse mackerel (scad), lamprey, sea bass, scabbard (especially in Madeira), and a great variety of other fish and shellfish, as well as molluscs, such as clams, mussels, oysters, periwinkles, and scallops. Caldeirada is a stew consisting of a variety of fish and shellfish with potatoes, tomatoes and onions. Sardines used to be preserved in brine for sale in rural areas. Later, sardine canneries developed all along the Portuguese coast. Ray fish is dried in the sun in Northern Portugal. Canned tuna is widely available in Continental Portugal. Tuna used to be plentiful in the waters of the Algarve. They were trapped in fixed nets when they passed the Portuguese southern coast to spawn in the Mediterranean, and again when they returned to the Atlantic. Portuguese writer Raul Brandão, in his book Os Pescadores, describes how the tuna was hooked from the raised net into the boats, and how the fishermen would amuse themselves riding the larger fish around the net. Fresh tuna, however, is usually eaten in Madeira and the Algarve, where tuna steaks are an important item in local cuisine. Canned sardines or tuna, served with boiled potatoes, black-eyed peas, and hard-boiled eggs, constitute a convenient meal when there is no time to prepare anything more elaborate.

Meat and poultry
Eating meat and poultry on a daily basis was historically a privilege of the upper classes. Pork and beef are the most common meats in the country. Meat was a staple at the nobleman’s table during the Middle Ages. A Portuguese Renaissance chronicler, Garcia de Resende, describes how an entrée at a royal banquet was composed of a whole roasted ox garnished with a circle of chickens. A common Portuguese dish, mainly eaten in winter, is cozido à portuguesa, which somewhat parallels the French pot au feu or the New England boiled dinner. Its composition depends on the cook’s imagination and budget. A really lavish cozido may include beef, pork, salt pork, several types of enchidos (such as cured chouriço, morcela e chouriço de sangue, linguiça, farinheira, etc.), pig’s feet, cured ham, potatoes, carrots, turnips, chickpeas, cabbage and rice. This would originally have been a favourite food of the affluent farmer, which later reached the tables of the urban bourgeoisie and typical restaurants. Tripas à moda do Porto (tripe with white beans) is said to have originated in the 14th century, when the Castilians laid siege to Lisbon and blockaded the Tagus entrance. The Portuguese chronicler Fernão Lopes dramatically recounts how starvation spread all over the city. Food prices rose astronomically, and small boys would go to the former wheat market place in search of a few grains on the ground, which they would eagerly put in their mouths when found. Old and sick people, as well as prostitutes, or in short anybody who would not be able to aid in the city’s defence, were sent out to the Castilian camp, only to be returned to Lisbon by the invaders. It was at this point that the citizens of Porto decided to organize a supply fleet that managed to slip through the river blockade. Apparently, since all available meat was sent to the capital for a while, Porto residents were limited to tripe and other organs. Others claim that it was only in 1415 that Porto deprived itself of meat to supply the expedition that conquered the city of Ceuta, in North Africa. Whatever the truth may be, since at least the 17th century, people from Porto have been known as tripeiros or tripe eaters. Another Portuguese dish with tripe is Dobrada. Nowadays, the Porto region is equally known for the toasted sandwich known as a francesinha (little French). In Alto Alentejo (North Alentejo), there is a very typical dish made with lungs, blood and liver, of either pork or lamb. It’s an Easter dish, but can be seen in every season of the year. Basically, the blood is boiled and cut into little pieces as the other parts, then the secret ingredients are added. In the end, cover the plate with bread that will soak with the liquid, some people also put mint and a slice of orange as decoration. Many other meat dishes feature in Portuguese cuisine. In the Bairrada area, a famous dish is Leitão à Bairrada (roasted suckling pig). Nearby, another dish, chanfana (goat slowly cooked in wine) is claimed by two towns, Miranda do Corvo (“Capital da Chanfana”) and Vila Nova de Poiares (“Capital Universal da Chanfana”). Carne de porco à alentejana, fried pork with clams, is a popular dish with a misleading name as it originated in the Algarve, not in Alentejo. Alcatra, beef marinated in red wine and garlic, then roasted, is a tradition of Terceira Island in the Azores. The Portuguese steak, bife, is a slice of fried beef or pork served in a wine-based sauce with fried potatoes, rice, or salad. To add a few more calories to this dish, an egg, sunny-side up, may be placed on top of the meat, in which case the dish acquires a new name, bife (com um ovo) a cavalo (steak with an egg on horseback). This dish is sometimes referred to as bitoque, to demonstrate the idea that the meat only “touches” the grill twice, meaning that it does not grill for too long before being served, resulting in a rare to medium-rare cut of meat. Another variation of bife is bife a casa (house steak), which may resemble the bife a cavalo or may feature embellishments, such as asparagus. Iscas (fried liver) were a favourite request in old Lisbon taverns. Sometimes, they were called iscas com elas, the elas referring to sautéed potatoes. Small beef or pork steaks in a roll (pregos or bifanas, respectively) are popular snacks, often served at beer halls with a large mug of beer. In modern days, however, when time and economy demand their toll, a prego or bifana, eaten at a snack bar counter, may constitute the lunch of a white collar worker. Espetada (meat on a skewer) is very popular in Madeira. Poultry, easily raised around a peasant’s home, was at first considered quality food. Turkeys were only eaten for Christmas or on special occasions, such as wedding receptions or banquets. Up until the 1930s, the farmers from the outskirts of Lisbon would come around Christmas time to bring herds of turkeys to the city streets for sale. Before being killed, a stiff dose of brandy was forced down the birds’ throats to make the meat more tender and tasty, and hopefully to ensure a happy state of mind when the time would come for the use of a sharp knife. Poor people ate chicken almost only when they were sick. Nowadays, mass production in poultry farms makes these meats accessible to all classes. Thus bifes de Peru, turkey steaks, have become an addition to Portuguese tables.

Vegetables and starches
Vegetables that are popular in Portuguese cookery include tomatoes, cabbage, and onions. There are many starchy dishes, such as feijoada, a rich bean stew with beef and pork, and açorda, a thick bread-based casserole generally flavoured with garlic, parsley, and coriander or seafood. Many dishes are served with salads usually made from tomato, lettuce, and onion flavoured with olive oil and vinegar. Potatoes and rice are also extremely common in Portuguese cuisine. Soups made from a variety of vegetables are commonly available, one of the most popular being caldo verde, made from potato purée, thinly sliced kale, and slices of chouriço.

Cheese
There are a wide variety of Portuguese cheeses, made from cow’s, goat’s or sheep’s milk. Usually these are very strongly flavoured and fragrant. Traditional Portuguese cuisine does not include cheese in its recipes, so it is usually eaten on its own before or after the main dishes. In the Azores, there is a type of cheese made from cow’s milk with a spicy taste, the Queijo São Jorge. Other well known cheeses with protected designation of origin, such as Queijo de Azeitão, Queijo de Castelo Branco and the Queijo da Serra da Estrela, which is very strong in flavour, can be eaten soft or more matured. Serra da Estrela is handmade from fresh sheep’s milk and thistle-derived rennet. The one in the photo, the Queijo mestiço de Tolosa, is the only Portuguese cheese with protected geographical indication and it is made in the civil parish of Tolosa, in the small village of Nisa, Portalegre District, Alto Alentejo. In the Nisa area, Queijo de Nisa is the local variation.

Wines
Wine (red, white and “green”) is the traditional Portuguese drink, the Rosé variety being popular in non-Portuguese markets and not particularly common in Portugal itself. Vinho Verde, termed “green” wine, is not green in colour, but a specific kind of wine, which can be red, white or rosé, and is only produced in the northwest (Minho province). The term “green wine” does not refer to the colour of the drink, but to the fact that this wine needs to be drunk “young”. A green wine should be consumed as a new wine while a “maduro” wine usually can be consumed after a period of ageing. Green wines are only produced in the north of Portugal and are usually slightly sparkling. Port wine is a fortified wine of distinct flavour produced in Douro, which is normally served with desserts. Vinho da Madeira, is a regional wine produced in >Madeiraaguardente, literally “burning water”), which are very strong tasting. Typical liqueurs, such as Licor Beirão and Ginjinha, are very popular alcoholic beverages in Portugal. In the south, particularly the Algarve, a distilled spirit called medronho, which is made from the fruit of the Strawberry tree is made.

Pastries and desserts
Many of the country’s typical pastries were created in the Middle Ages monasteries by nuns and monks and sold as a means of supplementing their incomes. The main ingredient for these pastries was egg yolks. It is a common belief that the medieval nuns used vast quantities of egg whites to stiffen their habits, and developed endless dessert recipes to use all the surplus yolks. However, it is also known that Portugal had a big egg production, mainly between the 18th and 19th centuries, and that most of the egg whites were exported to be used as a purifier in white wine production or to iron suits. The excess quantity of yolks, combined with plenty of sugar coming from the Portuguese colonies, was the inspiration for the creation of recipes made from egg yolk. The names of these desserts are usually related to monastic life and to the Catholic faith. Examples are, among others, barriga de freira (nun’s belly), papos de anjo (angel’s chests), and toucinho do céu (bacon from heaven). Other common ingredients in Portuguese convent confectionery are almonds, doce de chila/gila (made from squash), wafer paper, and candied egg threads called fios de ovos. Rich egg-based desserts are very popular in Portugal and are often seasoned with spices, such as cinnamon and vanilla. The most popular are leite-creme (a dessert consisting of an egg custard-base topped with a layer of hard caramel), arroz doce (a typical and popular rice pudding), and pudim flã (a caramel custard; in Brazil, it is known as pudim de leite condensado). A dessert called aletria, similar to arroz doce, but made with a kind of vermicelli instead of rice, is also very popular. They are also omni-present as traditional home desserts in Brazil and other Portuguese-influenced countries. Cakes and pastries are also very popular in Portugal. Most towns have a local specialty, usually egg or cream-based pastry. Originally from Lisbon, but popular nationwide, as well as among the diaspora, are pastéis de nata. These are small, extremely rich custard tarts. Other very popular pastries found in most cafés, bakeries and pastry shops across the country are the Bola de Berlim, the Pão-de-ló, the Bolo de Arroz, and the Tentúgal pastries.

Influences on world cuisine
Portugal formerly had a large empire and the cuisine has been influenced in both directions. Portuguese influences are strongly evident in Brazilian cuisine, which features its own versions of Portuguese dishes, such as feijoada and caldeirada (fish stew). Other Portuguese influences can be tasted in the Chinese territory of Macau (Macanese cuisine) and in the Indian province of Goa, where Goan dishes, such as vindalho (a spicy curry), show the pairing of vinegar and garlic. The Persian orange, grown widely in southern Europe since the 11th century, was bitter. Sweet oranges were brought from India to Europe in the 15th century by Portuguese traders. Some Southeast Indo-European languages name the orange after Portugal, which was formerly its main source of imports. The Portuguese imported spices, such as cinnamon, now liberally used in its traditional desserts, from Asia. Furthermore, the Portuguese “canja de galinha“, a chicken soup made with rice, is a popular food therapy for the sick, which shares similarities with the Asian congee, used in the same way, suggesting it may have come from the East. Tea was made fashionable in Britain in the 1660s after the marriage of King Charles II to the Portuguese princess Catherine of Braganza, who brought her liking for tea, originally from the colony of Macau, to the court. In 1543, Portuguese trade ships reached Japan and introduced refined sugar, valued there as a luxury good. Japanese lords enjoyed Portuguese confectionery so much it was remodelled in the now traditional Japanese kompeito (candy), kasutera (sponge cake), and keiran somen (the Japanese version of Portuguese “fios de ovos“; this dish is also popular in Thai cuisine under the name “kanom foy tong”), creating the Nanban-gashi, or “New-Style Wagashi“. During this Nanban trade period, tempura was introduced to Japan by early Portuguese missionaries. All over the world, Portuguese immigrants influenced the cuisine of their new “homelands”, such as Hawaii and parts of New England. Pão doce (Portuguese sweet bread), malasadas, sopa de feijão (bean soup), and Portuguese sausages (such as linguiça and chouriço) are eaten regularly in the Hawaiian islands by families of all ethnicities. Similarly, the “papo seco” is a Portuguese bread roll with an open texture, which has become a staple of cafés in Jersey, where there is a substantial Portuguese community. In Australia, variants of “Portuguese-style” chicken, sold principally in fast food outlets, has become extremely popular in the last two decades. Offerings include conventional chicken dishes and a variety of chicken and beef burgers. In some cases, such as “Portuguese chicken sandwiches”, the dishes offered bear only a loose connection to Portuguese cuisine, usually only the use of “Piri-piri sauce” (a Portuguese sauce made with piri piri, which are small, fiery chili peppers), and the connection is made simply as a marketing technique. The Portuguese had a major influence on African cuisine. They are responsible for introducing corn in the African continent.

Madeira wine and early American history
The 18th century was the “golden age” for Madeira. The wine’s popularity extended from the American colonies and Brazil in the New World to Great Britain, Russia, and Northern Africa. The American colonies, in particular, were enthusiastic customers, consuming as much as a quarter of all wine produced on the island each year. Madeira was an important wine in the history of the United States of America. No wine-quality grapes could be grown among the 13 colonies, so imports were needed, with a great focus on Madeira. One of the major events on the road to revolution in which Madeira played a key role was the British seizure of John Hancock’s sloop the Liberty on May 9, 1768. Hancock’s boat was seized after he had unloaded a cargo of 25 casks (3,150 gallons) of Madeira, and a dispute arose over import duties. The seizure of the Liberty caused riots to erupt among the people of Boston. Madeira was a favorite of Thomas Jefferson, and it was used to toast the Declaration of Independence. George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams are also said to have appreciated the qualities of Madeira. The wine was mentioned in Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography. On one occasion, Adams wrote to his wife, Abigail, of the great quantities of Madeira he consumed while a Massachusetts delegate to the Continental Congress. A bottle of Madeira was used by visiting Captain James Server to christen the USS Constitution in 1797. Chief Justice John Marshall was also known to appreciate Madeira, as well as his cohorts on the early U.S. Supreme Court. Read more on Wikipedia Portuguese cuisine.


Sarma and Mamaliga © Themightyquill/cc-by-sa-2.5

Sarma and Mamaliga © Themightyquill/cc-by-sa-2.5

Romanian cuisine
Romanian cuisine is a diverse blend of different dishes from several traditions with which it has come into contact, but it also maintains its own character. It has been greatly influenced by Ottoman cuisine, while it also includes influences from the cuisines of other neighbours, including German, Serbian, Bulgarian, and Hungarian cuisine. There are quite a few different types of dishes, which are sometimes included under a generic term; for example, the category ciorbă includes a wide range of soups with a characteristic sour taste. These may be meat and vegetable soups, tripe (ciorbă de burtă) and calf foot soups, or fish soups, all of which are soured by lemon juice, sauerkraut juice, vinegar, or borș (traditionally made from bran). The category țuică (plum brandy) is a generic name for a strong alcoholic spirit in Romania, while in other countries, every flavour has a different name.

Description
Romanian recipes bear the same influences as the rest of Romanian culture. The Turks brought meatballs (perișoare in a meatball soup), from the Greeks there is musaca, from the Austrians there is the șnițel, and the list could continue. The Romanians share many foods with the Balkan area (in which Turkey was the cultural vehicle), Central Europe (mostly in the form of German-Austrian dishes introduced through Hungary or by the Saxons in Transylvania), and Eastern Europe (including Moldova). Some others are original or can be traced to the Romans, as well as other ancient civilizations. The lack of written sources in Eastern Europe makes it impossible to determine today the punctual origin for most of them. One of the most common meals is the mămăligă, a type of polenta, served on its own or as an accompaniment. Pork is the main meat used in Romanian cuisine, but also beef is consumed and a good lamb or fish dish is never to be refused. Before Christmas, on December 20 (Ignat’s Day or Ignatul in Romanian), a pig is traditionally sacrificed by every rural family. A variety of foods for Christmas are prepared from the slaughtered pig. The Christmas meal is sweetened with the traditional cozonac, a sweet bread made from nuts, poppy seeds, or rahat (Turkish delight). At Easter, lamb is served: the main dishes are borș de miel (lamb sour soup), roast lamb, and drob de miel – a Romanian-style lamb haggis made from minced offal (heart, liver, lungs), lamb meat and spring onions with spices, wrapped in a caul and roasted. The traditional Easter cake is pască, a pie made from yeast dough with a sweet cottage cheese filling at the center. Romanian pancakes, called clătite, are thin (like the French crêpe) and can be prepared with savory or sweet fillings: ground meat, cheese, or jam. Different recipes are prepared depending on the season or the occasion. Wine is the preferred drink, and Romanian wine has a tradition of over three millennia. Romania is currently the world’s ninth largest wine producer, and recently the export market has started to grow. Romania produces a wide selection of domestic varieties (Fetească, Grasă, Tămâioasă, Busuioacă, and Băbească), as well as varieties from across the world (Italian Riesling, Merlot, Sauvignon blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Muscat Ottonel). Beer is also highly regarded, generally blonde pilsener beer, made with German influences. There are also Romanian breweries with a long tradition. Read more on Wikipedia Romanian cuisine.


Stuffed potato pancake © Rkolarsky/cc-by-sa-3.0

Stuffed potato pancake © Rkolarsky/cc-by-sa-3.0

Slovak cuisine
Slovak cuisine varies slightly from region to region across Slovakia. It was influenced by the traditional cuisine of its neighbours and it influenced them as well. The origins of traditional Slovak cuisine can be traced to times when the majority of the population lived self-sufficiently in villages, with very limited food imports and exports and with no modern means of food preservation or processing. This gave rise to a cuisine heavily dependent on a number of staple foods that could stand the hot summers and cold winters. These included wheat, potatoes, milk and milk products, pork meat, sauerkraut and onion. To a lesser degree beef, poultry, lamb and goat, eggs, a few other local vegetables, fruit and wild mushrooms were traditionally eaten. All these were usually produced and processed by families themselves with some local trade at the country markets. Wheat was ground, and bread, dumplings and noodles were made from it. Potatoes were mostly boiled or processed into potato dough. Milk was processed into a wide range of products such as butter, cream, sour cream, buttermilk, and various types of cheese etc. Typical pork products include sausages, a local kind of blood sausages, smoked bacon, and lard. Spices were not widely used, and animal fats and butter were used instead of cooking oils. Main drinks included fresh and sour milk, and beer. Contemporary Slovak cuisine is widely influenced by various world cuisines and uses many different ingredients, spices and industrially processed foods.

Meat
Pork, beef and poultry are the main meats consumed in Slovakia, with pork being the most popular by a substantial margin. Among poultry, chicken is most common, although duck, goose, and turkey are also well established. A blood sausage called krvavničky, and sausage with rice called jaternice (traditionally called “hurky”) also has a following, containing any and all parts of a butchered pig; it is an acquired taste. Game meats, especially boar, rabbit, and venison, are also widely available throughout the year. Lamb and goat are also available, but for the most part are not very popular. The consumption of horse meat is generally frowned upon. Grilled meat is not common in Slovakia. Instead, meat is either breaded and fried in oil (schnitzel), or cooked and served in sauce. Hungarian influences in Slovak cuisine can be seen in popular stews and goulashes. However, these have been given Slovak touches. Chicken paprikash is typically served with halušky and Hungarian goulash (spicy beef stew) is served with slices of a large bread-like steamed dumpling.

Main daily meal
Traditionally the main meal of the day is lunch, eaten around noon. However, changing work routine has altered this in the recent decades; today, many Slovaks have their main meal in the evening. Lunch in Slovakia usually consists of soup and a main course. It is customary in Slovakia to bring a bottle of wine or other alcohol as a gift if you are invited to visit someone’s home. Read more on Wikipedia Slovak cuisine.


Matevž © Petar Milošević/cc-by-sa-4.0

Matevž © Petar Milošević/cc-by-sa-4.0

Slovenian cuisine
Slovenian cuisine is influenced by the diversity of Slovenia‘s landscape, climate, history and neighbouring cultures. In 2016, the leading Slovenian ethnologists divided the country into 23 gastronomic regions. Slovenian cuisine can be divided into town, farmhouse, cottage, castle, parsonage, and monastic Slovenian cuisine. The bourgeois Slovene cuisine incorporated elements of Austrian, German and French cuisines, whilst the dishes eaten by the working class were mostly a function of their professions (notably, mining and forestry). The first Slovene-language cookbook was published by Valentin Vodnik in 1798

Foods and dishes
Soups are a relatively recent invention in Slovenian cuisine, but there are over 100. Earlier there were various kinds of porridge, stew and one-pot meals. The most common soups without meat were lean and plain. A typical dish is aleluja, a soup made from turnip peels and a well-known dish during fasting. The most common meat soups are beef and chicken soup. Meat-based soups are served only on Sundays and feast days; more frequently in more prosperous country or city households. Slovenians are familiar with all kinds of meat, but it used to be served only on Sundays and feast days. Pork was popular and common everywhere in Slovenia. Poultry also often featured. There is a wide variety of meats in different parts of Slovenia. In White Carniola and the Slovenian Littoral they eat mutton and goat. On St. Martin’s Day people feast on roasted goose, duck, turkey, and chicken. In Lower Carniola and Inner Carniola, they eat roasted dormouse and quail. Until the crayfish plague in the 1880s the noble crayfish was a source of income and often on the menu in Lower Carniola and Inner Carniola. Dandelion is popular as a salad ingredient in Slovenia and has been gathered in the fields for centuries. Even today dandelion and potato salad is highly valued. Since it can be picked only for a short time in early spring, much is made of it. Families go on dandelion picking expeditions, and pick enough for a whole week. In the Middle Ages people ate acorns and other forest fruits, particularly in times of famine. Chestnuts were valued, and served as basis for many outstanding dishes. Walnuts and hazelnuts are used in cakes and desserts. Wild strawberries, loganberries, blackberries, bilbeberries were a rich source of vitamins. Mushrooms have always been popular, and Slovenians liked picking and eating them. There are many varieties. Honey was used to a considerable extent. Medenjaki, which come in different shapes are honey cakes, which are most commonly heart-shaped and are often used as gifts. Read more on Wikipedia Slovenian cuisine.


Tapas © Elemaki/cc-by-3.0

Tapas © Elemaki/cc-by-3.0

Spanish cuisine
Spanish cuisine is heavily influenced by regional cuisines and the particular historical processes that shaped culture and society in those territories. Geography and climate, had great influence on cooking methods and available ingredients, and these particularities are still present in the gastronomy of the various regions that make up the country. Spanish cuisine derives from a complex history, where invasions of the country and conquests of new territories modified traditions and made new ingredients available. A continental-style breakfast (desayuno) may be taken just after waking up, or before entering the workplace. Due to the large time span between breakfast and lunch, it is not uncommon to halt the working schedule to take a mid-morning snack. Lunch (el almuerzo or simply la comida, literally meaning “the food”), the large midday meal in Spain, contains several courses. It usually starts between 2:00 pm or 2:30 pm finishing around 3:00 pm to 3:30 pm, and is usually followed by Sobremesa, which refers to the tabletalk that Spanish people undertake. Menus are organized according to these courses and include five or six choices in each course. At home, Spanish meals wouldn’t be too fancy, and would contain soup or a pasta dish, salad, a meat or a fish dish and a dessert such as fruit or cheese. Green salad with the meat or fish courses. In some regions of Spain, the word almuerzo refers to the mid-morning snack, instead of lunch. La cena, meaning both dinner or supper, is taken between 8:30pm and 10pm. It is lighter than lunch, consisting of one course and dessert. Due to the large time span between lunch and dinner, an afternoon snack, la merienda, equivalent to afternoon tea, may take place at about 6pm. Appetizers before lunch or dinner are common in the form of tapas (tiny rations). In the last years, the Spanish government is starting to take action to shorten the lunch break, in order to end the working day earlier. Most businesses shut down for two or three hours for lunch, then resume the working day until dinner time in the evening.

Andalucia
Andalusian cuisine is twofold: rural and coastal. Of all the Spanish regions, this region uses the most olive oil in its cuisine. The Andalusian dish that has achieved the most international fame is Gazpacho. It is a cold soup (or in an alternative view, a liquid salad) made with five vegetables, bread, vinegar, water, salt and olive oil. Other cold soups include: pulley, Zoque, salmorejo, etc. Snacks made with olives are common. Meat dishes include: flamenquín, pringá, oxtail stew and Menudo Gitano (also called Andalusian tripe). The hot soups include cat soup (made with bread), dog stew (fish soup with orange juice) and Migas Canas. Fish dishes include: fried fish, cod pavías, and parpandúas. A culinary custom is the typical Andalusian breakfast, considered to be a traditional characteristic of laborers and today extending throughout Spain. Cured meats include: Serrano Ham and Iberico Ham. Typical drinks in the area include: anise, wine (Malaga, Jerez, Pedro Ximénez, etc.) and sherry brandy.

Aragon
The Aragonese cuisine has a rural and mountainous origin. The central part of Aragon, the flattest, is the richest in culinary specialties. Being a land of lambs raised on the slopes of the Pyrenees, one of its most famous dishes is roast lamb (asado de ternasco) (with garlic, salt and bacon fat), having the lamb to the shepherd, the heads of lamb and Highlanders asparagus (lamb tails). Pork dishes are also very popular, among them: Magras con tomate, roasted pork leg and Almojábanas de Cerdo. Among the recipes made with bread are: migas de Pastor, migas con chocolate, Regañaos (cakes with sardines or herring) and goguera. The most notable condiment is garlic-oil. Legumes are very important and the most popular vegetables are borage and thistle. In terms of cured meats, ham from Teruel and Huesca are famous. Among the cheeses Tronchon is notable. Fruit-based cuisine includes the very popular Fruits of Aragon (Spanish: Frutas de Aragón) and Maraschino cherries.

Asturias
Asturian cuisine has a long and rich history, deeply rooted in Celtic traditions of northern Europe. One of its most famous dishes is the Asturian bean stew, which is the traditional stew of the region, made with white beans, sausages such as chorizo and morcilla and pork. Another well-known recipe is beans with clams, hare and partridge. Also of note are Asturian stew and vigil. Pork-based foods, for example chosco, tripe Asturias and bollos preñaos are popular. Common meat dishes include: carne gobernada, cachopo and stew. Asturian cheeses are very popular in the rest of Spain. Among them, the most representative is Cabrales Cheese a strong-smelling cheese developed in the regions near the Picos de Europa. This can be enjoyed with the local cider. Notable desserts are frisuelos, rice pudding and carbayones.

Balearic Islands
The Balearic cuisine has purely Mediterranean characteristics. The islands have been conquered several times throughout their history by the French and the English, which has left some culinary influences. At present are well known: the spicy sausage and rice brut, cheese Mahon, Mahon Gin (“pellofa”) and mayonnaise. Among the dishes are tumbet, variat frit and roast suckling pig. Among the desserts are: Ensaimadas, drum almond, sighs of Manacor.

Basque Country
The cuisine of the Basque Country is a wide and varied range of ingredients and preparations. The culture of eating is very strong among the inhabitants of this region. Highlights include meat and fish dishes. Among fish, cod is produced in various preparations: bacalao al pil pil, cod Bilbao, etc. Are also common anchovy, bream, bonito, etc. Among the most famous dishes is the seafood changurro. Among the meats are: the beef steaks, pork loin with milk, fig leaf quail, marinated goose, etc.

Canary Islands
The Canary Islands have a unique cuisine due to their geographical location in the Atlantic ocean. The Canary Islands were part of the trading routes to the American Continent, hence creating a melting pot of different culinary traditions. Fish (fresh or salted) and potatoes are among the most common staple foods in the islands. The consumption of cheese, fruits and pork meat also characterizes canarian cuisine. The closeness to Africa influences climate and creates a range of warm temperatures that in modern times have fostered the agriculture of tropical and semitropical crops: bananas, yams, mangoes, avocados and persimmons which are heavily used in canarian cuisine. The aboriginal people Guanches based their diet on gofio (a type of flour made of different toasted grains), shellfish, and goat and pork products. Gofio is still consumed in the islands and has become part of the traditional cuisine of the islands. A sauce called mojo (from Portuguese origins) is very common through the islands and has developed different varieties adapted to the main dish where it is being used. Fish dishes usually require a “green mojo” made from coriander or parsley, while roasted meats require a red variety made from chilli peppers that is commonly known as mojo picón. Stew is a very common kind of fish stew, reminiscent of dishes in other culinary traditions. Some other classic dishes in the Canary Islands include papas arrugadas, almogrote, frangollo, rabbit in “salmorejo sauce” and stewed goat. Some popular desserts are: truchas (pastries filled with sweet potato or pumpkin), roasted gofio (a gofio-based dough with nuts and honey), príncipe alberto (a mousse-like preparation with almonds, coffee, and chocolate) and quesillo (a variety of flan made with condensed milk). Winery is common in the islands; however, only Malvasia wine from Lanzarote has gained international recognition.

Cantabria
A popular Cantabrian dish is cocido montañés (highlander stew), a rich stew made with beans, cabbage and pork. Seafood is widely used and bonito is present in the typical sorropotún or marmite. Recognized quality meats are Tudanca veal and game meat. Cantabrian pastries include sobaos and quesadas pasiegas. Dairy products include Cantabrian cream cheese, smoked cheeses, picón Bejes-Tresviso and quesucos de Liébana. Orujo is the Cantabrian pomace brandy. Cider (sidra) and chacoli wine are increasing in popularity. Cantabria has two wines labelled DOC: Costa de Cantabria and Liébana.

Castile-La Mancha
In this region, the culinary habits reflect the origin of foods eaten by shepherds and peasants. Al-Manchara means, in Arabic, “Dry Land” indicating the arid lands and the quality of its dishes. It is said that the best La Mancha cuisine cookbook is the novel Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. Wheat and grains are dominant, used in bread, soups, gazpacho manchego, crumbs, porridge, etc. One of the most abundant ingredients in Manchego cuisine is garlic, leading to dishes such as: ajoarriero, ajopuerco and garlic marinade. Some traditional recipes are gazpacho manchego, pisto manchego and migas ruleras. Also popular is morteruelo, a kind of foie gras manchego. Manchego cheese is renowned. Given the fact that its lands are dry, and thus unable to sustain large amounts of cattle living on grass, an abundance of small animals, such as rabbit, and especially birds (pheasant, quail, partridge, squab) can be found. This has led to game meat being incorporated into traditional dishes, such as Conejo al Ajillo (rabbit in garlic sauce), Perdiz Escabechada (marinated partridge) or Huevos de Codorniz (Quail’s eggs).

Castile and León
In Castile and León characteristic dishes (Leonese cuisine and Cuisine of the province of Valladolid) include morcilla, (a black pudding made with special spices), judión de la granja, sopa de ajo (garlic soup), Cochinillo asado (roast piglet), lechazo (roast lamb), botillo del Bierzo, hornazo from Salamanca, Jamón de Guijuelo (a cured ham from Guijuelo, Salamanca), Salchichas de Zaratán and other sausages, Serrada cheese, Burgos’s soft cheese, and Ribera del Duero wines. Major wines in Castilian-Leonese cuisine include the robust wine of Toro, reds from Ribera del Duero, whites from Rueda, and clarets from Cigales.

Catalonia
The cuisine of Catalonia is based in a rural culture; it is very extensive and a great culinary wealth. Notably, it was in Catalonia where the first cookbook was written in Spain. It has a triple cuisine: seafood, mountain and interior. Among the most popular dishes include: escudella and tomato bread. Bean tortilla, Coca de recapte, samfaina, farigola soup and snails are famous dishes. Notable sauces are: romesco sauce, aioli, bouillabaisse of Catalan origin and picada. Cured pork cuisine boasts sausage (white and black) and the salami and pepperoni of Vic. Among the fish dishes are: suquet, stewed cod and black rice. Among the vegetable dishes, the most famous are calçots and the Escalivada (roasted vegetables). Among the desserts are: Catalan cream, carquiñoles, panellets, Kings Tortel, kink and neulas.

La Rioja
La Rioja is recognized by the use of meats such as pork, and their cold cuts made after the traditional slaughter. The lamb is perhaps the second most popular meat product in this region (Sarmiento chops) and finally, veal is common in mountain areas. The most famous dish is Rioja potatoes and Fritada. Lesser known are: Holy lunch and Ajo huevo (garlic eggs). Another well-known dish is Rioja stew. Pimientos asados (roasted peppers) is a notable vegetable dish. Rioja wine has designated origin status.

Extremadura
The cuisine of Extremadura is austere, with dishes prepared by shepherds. It is very similar to the cuisine of Castilla. Extremaduran cuisine is abundant in pork; it is said that the region is one of the best for breeding pigs in Spain, thanks to the acorns that grow in their fields: Iberian pig herds raised in the fields of Montánchez are characterized by dark skin and black, thin legs. This breed of pig is found exclusively in Spain and Portugal. Iberian pork sausages are common, such as pork stews (cocido extremeño). Another meat dishes is lamb stew. It is also known that lizard is often cooked in Extremadura. Highlights include game meats such as wild boar, partridge, pheasant or venison. Famous cheeses are Torta de la Serena and Torta de casar. Among the desserts are: Leche frita, perrunillas and fritters, as well as many sweets that have their origins in convents.

Galicia
Galician cuisine is known in Spanish territory because of the emigration of its inhabitants. One of the most noted is Galician soup. Also notable is pork with turnip tops, a popular component of the Galician carnival meal laconadas. Another remarkable recipe is Caldo de castañas (a chestnut broth), which is commonly consumed during winter. Pork products are also popular. The seafood dishes are very famous and rich in variety. Among these are: the Galician empanada, Galician octopus, scallops, crab and barnacles. Among the many dairy products is Queso de tetilla. Orujo is one of Galicia’s alcoholic drinks. Sweets that are famous throughout the Iberian Peninsula are the Tarta de Santiago and Filloas (pancakes).

Madrid
Madrid did not gain its own identity in the Court until 1561, when Philip II moved the capital to Madrid. Since then, due to immigration, many of Madrid’s culinary dishes have been made from modifications to dishes from other Spanish regions. Madrid, due to the influx of visitors from the nineteenth century onwards, was one of the first cities to introduce the concept of the restaurant, hosting some of the earliest examples. Notable dairy products are: rice pudding, meringue milk, cheese and curd. Some important fruits and vegetables are Aranjuez strawberries and melons. Madrid is rich in religious confectionery, with sweets such as chocolate con churros and buñuelos. The nutritional value of the madrilian cuisine was discovered by the American epidemiologist Ancel Keys in the 1950, the Spanish cuisine being later often mentioned by epidemiologists as one of the best examples of the Mediterranean diet.

Murcia
The cuisine of the region of Murcia has two sides with the influence of Manchego cuisine. The region of Murcia is famous for its varied fruit production. Among the most outstanding dishes are: Murcia tortilla, zarangollo, mojete, eggplants cream, pipirrana, etc. A typical sauce of this area is the cabañil garlic, used to accompany meat dishes. Among the culinary preparations are: the michirones (dried beans cooked with bay leaves, hot peppers and garlic). Among the cooked include: the olla gitana, cocido murciano con pelotas, mondongo, etc. Among meat products Murcia find black pudding, which is flavored with oregano, and pastel murciano that is made with ground beef. Among the fish and seafood are: the golden salt, the Mar Menor prawns and octopus baked. Rices are common and among them are: the Caldero, the Arroz empedrado, rice with rabbit and snails, rice scribe, and the widower rice. Among confectionery products are: the exploradores) and pastel de Cierva, them are some typical cakes in Murcia gastronomy,they are found in almost all pastry shop in Murcia,are both sweet and savory at the same time. The desserts are very abundant, among them are: paparajotes Orchard, stufed pastries and various pastries. This region also has wine appellation of origin, as the wine from Jumilla, Bullas wine and wine Yecla.

Navarre
The gastronomy of Navarra has many similarities with the Basque cuisine. Two of its flag dishes are: Tout Navarre Style and Ajoarriero, although we must not forget the lamb chilindrón or relleno. There are very curious recipes such as the Carlists eggs. Salted products are common and, between them, include: chorizo de Pamplona, stuffing and sausage. The lamb and beef have, at present, designations of origin. Among the dairy products are: Roncal cheese, the curd or Idiazabal cheese. Among the most typical alcoholic drinks are: the claret and pacharán.

Valencia
The cuisine of Valencia has two components: the rural (products of the field) and the other coastal, which is seafood. One popular Valencia creation is Paella, a rice dish cooked in a circular pan and topped with vegetables and meats (commonly rabbit, chicken or fish). Dishes such as Arroz con costra, Arròs negre, fideuá and throw rice, Arroz al horno, and rice with beans and turnips are also common in the city. Coastal towns supply the region with fish, leading to popular dishes like “all i pebre” typical of the Albufera, or fish stew. Among the desserts are: coffee liqueur, chocolate Alicante, arnadí and horchata. Notably, during Christmas, nougat is made in Alicante and Jijona; also well-known are peladillas (almonds wrapped in a thick layer of caramel). Read more on Wikivoyage Spanish cuisine and Wikipedia Spanish cuisine.


Köttbullar, meatballs with lingon berry © flickr.com - by tuey/cc-by-2.0

Köttbullar, meatballs with lingon berry © flickr.com – by tuey/cc-by-2.0

Swedish cuisine
Swedish cuisine is the traditional food of the people of Sweden. Due to Sweden’s large North–South expanse, there are regional differences between the cuisine of North and South Sweden. Historically, in the far North, meats such as reindeer, and other (semi-) game dishes were eaten, some of which have their roots in the Sami culture, while fresh vegetables have played a larger role in the South. Many traditional dishes employ simple, contrasting flavours, such as the traditional dish of meatballs and brown cream sauce with tart, pungent lingonberry jam (slightly similar in taste to cranberry sauce). Swedes have traditionally been very open to foreign influences, ranging from French cuisine during the 17th and 18th century, to the sushi and cafe latte of today.

Husmanskost
Swedish husmanskost denotes traditional Swedish dishes with local ingredients, the classical every-day Swedish cuisine. The word husmanskost stems from husman, meaning “house owner” (without associated land), and the term was originally used for most kinds of simple countryside food outside of towns. Genuine Swedish husmanskost used predominantly local ingredients such as pork in all forms, fish, cereals, milk, potato, root vegetables, cabbage, onions, apples, berries etc.; beef and lamb were used more sparingly. Beside berries, apples are the most used traditional fruit, eaten fresh or served as apple pie, apple sauce, or apple cake. Time-consuming cooking methods such as redningar (roux) and långkok (literally “long boil”) are commonly employed and spices are sparingly used. Examples of Swedish husmanskost are pea soup (ärtsoppa), boiled and mashed carrots, potato and rutabaga served with pork (rotmos med fläsk), many varieties of salmon (such as gravlax, inkokt lax, fried, pickled), varieties of herring (most commonly pickled, but also fried, au gratin, etc.), fishballs (fiskbullar), meatballs (köttbullar), potato dumplings with meat or other ingredients (palt), potato pancake (raggmunk), varieties of porridge (gröt), a fried mix of pieces of potato, different kind of meats, sausages, bacon and onion (pytt i panna), meat stew with onion (kalops), and potato dumplings with a filling of onions and pork (kroppkakor). Many of the dishes would be considered comfort food for the nostalgic value. Dishes akin to Swedish husmanskost and food traditions are found also in other Scandinavian countries; details may vary. Sweden is part of the vodka belt and historically distilled beverages, such as brännvin and snaps, have been a traditional daily complement to food. Consumption of wine in Sweden has increased during the last fifty years, partly at the expense of beer and stronger alcoholic beverages. In many countries, locally produced wines are combined with local husmanskost. Husmanskost has undergone a renaissance during the last decades as well known (or famous) Swedish chefs, such as Tore Wretman, have presented modernised variants of classical Swedish dishes. In this nouvel husman the amount of fat (which was needed to sustain hard manual labour in the old days) is reduced and some new ingredients are introduced. The cooking methods are tinkered with as well, in order to speed up the cooking process or enhance the nutritional value or flavor of the dishes. Many Swedish restaurateurs mix traditional husmanskost with a modern, gourmet approach.

Dishes
Swedish traditional dishes, some of which are many hundreds of years old, others perhaps a century or less, are still a very important part of Swedish everyday meals, in spite of the fact that modern day Swedish cuisine adopts many international dishes. Internationally, the most renowned Swedish culinary tradition is the smörgåsbord and, at Christmas, the julbord, including well known Swedish dishes such as gravlax and meatballs. In Sweden, traditionally, Thursday has been soup day because the maids had half the day off and soup was easy to prepare in advance. One of the most traditional Swedish soups, ärtsoppa is still served in many restaurants and households every Thursday, a tradition since the middle ages. Ärtsoppa is a yellow pea soup, commonly served with pancakes as dessert. This is a simple meal, a very thick soup, basically consisting of boiled yellow peas, a little onion, salt and small pieces of pork. It is often served with mustard and followed by a dessert of thin pancakes (pannkakor). The Swedish Armed Forces also serve their conscripts pea soup and pancakes every Thursday. Potatoes are eaten year-round as the main source of carbohydrates, and are a staple in many traditional dishes. Not until the last 50 years have pasta or rice become common on the dinner table. There are several different kinds of potatoes: the most appreciated is the new potato, a potato which ripens in early summer, and is enjoyed at the traditional mid-summer feast. New potatoes at midsommer are served with pickled herring, chives, sour cream, and the first strawberries of the year are traditionally served as dessert. The most highly regarded mushroom in Sweden is the chanterelle, which is considered a delicacy. The chanterelle is usually served as a side dish together with steaks, or fried with onions and sauce served on an open sandwich. Second to the chanterelle, and considered almost as delicious, is the porcini mushroom, or karljohansvamp, named after Charles XIV John (Karl XIV Johan) who introduced its use as food. In August, at the traditional feast known as kräftskiva, crayfish party, Swedes eat large amounts of crayfish, boiled and then marinated in a broth with salt, a little bit of sugar, and a large amount of dill weed.

Breakfast
Breakfast usually consists of open sandwiches (smörgåsen), possibly on crisp bread (knäckebröd). The sandwich is most often buttered, with toppings such as hard cheese, cold cuts, caviar, messmör (a sweet spread made from butter and whey), ham (skinka), and tomatoes or cucumber. Filmjölk (fermented milk), or sometimes yogurt, is also traditional breakfast food, usually served in a bowl with cereals such as corn flakes, muesli, or knäckebröd, and sometimes with sugar, fruit or jam. Porridge is sometimes eaten at breakfast, made of rolled oats eaten with milk and jam or cinnamon with sugar. Common drinks for breakfast are milk, juice, tea, or coffee. Swedes are among the most avid milk and coffee drinkers in the world. Swedes sometimes have sweet toppings on their breads, such as jam (like the French and Americans), or chocolate (like the Danes), although many older Swedes chose not to use these sweet toppings. However, orange marmalade on white bread is common, usually with morning coffee or tea. Many traditional kinds of Swedish bread, such as sirapslimpa (less fashionable today, but still very popular) are somewhat sweetened in themselves, baked with small amounts of syrup. Like in many other European countries, there are also lots of non-sweetened breads, often made with sourdough (surdeg). Swedish breads may be made from wholegrain, fine grain, or anything in between, and there are white, brown, and really dark (like in Finland) varieties which are all common. “Barkis” or “bergis” is a localised version of challah usually made without eggs and at first only available in Stockholm and Göteborg where Jews first settled but now available elsewhere.

Seafood
A limited range of fish and other seafood is an important part of the Swedish cuisine. Farmed salmon from Norway has become increasingly popular. And pickled, sweetened herring, inlagd sill, is the most traditional of Swedish appetizers. Shrimp and lobster are specialties of the Skagerrak coast. There is also the fermented baltic herring that with its pungent aroma is both loved and hated – in Swedish: surströmming.

Drinks
Sweden is one of the top 10 heaviest coffee drinking countries in the world. Milk consumption in Sweden is also very high, second only to Finland. Milk is bought in milk cartons, and it is no coincidence that Tetra Pak, the world’s largest maker of milk cartons, was founded in Sweden. Milk is considered the standard drink to have with meals during weekdays in many families, for both children and adults. The most important of stronger beverages in the Swedish cuisine is Brännvin, which is a general term that includes mainly two kinds of beverages: akvavit and vodka. When consumed traditionally it is often served as a snaps, but vodka is also popularly consumed as a drink ingredient. Renat is often considered to be the national vodka of Sweden, but other highly popular brands are Explorer Vodka and Absolut Vodka, the latter being one of the world’s best-known liquor brands. Most forms of Brännvin have around 40% alcohol. Punsch is a traditional liqueur in Sweden that was immensely popular during the 19th century. It was adopted as the drink of choice by university students, and many traditional songs from that time are about the consumption of punsch or are meant to be sung during the collective festivities that were part of the cultural life in the universities’ student associations at the time and still is. Beer is also widely consumed in Sweden and the typical Swedish beer is lager of a bright and malty kind. The brands Pripps Blå and Norrlands Guld are common examples. In the last few decades, many small breweries (microbreweries) have emerged all over Sweden offering a wide range of styles and brands. Nils Oscar Brewery, Dugges Ale och Porterbryggeri and Närke Kulturbryggeri are examples of these young Swedish microbreweries. Many microbreweries in Sweden are inspired by the US craft beer movement, brewing American styles or styles commonly associated with American craft breweries, e.g. American Pale Ale and American IPA. Read more on Wikipedia Swedish cuisine (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State). Photos by Wikimedia Commons.



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