Festive european food traditions

BEST European Food Traditions

Top 10 european Food Traditions

If you’re travelling through a country or a continent, a european tour for instance, there’s no better way of getting to the heart of things than eating local food, especially european food, the focus of our article.

We’ve listed below some of our favourite traditional european food, and where to eat it in the home country, so enjoy, and do leave a comment if you find anything unusual on your foody travels.

Lisbon’s sweet tooth

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During the holiday season, the Portuguese capital’s pastelarias are packed with customers eager to purchase cakes, sweets, and other fried pastries (bakeries). Sonhos (dreams) – light, deep-fried doughnuts dusted with sugar and cinnamon – are a personal favorite of mine. They may be prepared with flour and eggs, or with flour and mashed boiling pumpkin instead of those two ingredients together. Pastelaria Versailles, a gorgeous art nouveau café that opened in 1922, has some excellent pastries. Even yet, king cake (bob rei) is the most well-known and can be found just about everywhere. This French cake was brought to Lisbon in the 19th century by the ancient café Confeitaria Nacional (near Rossio square), and it is currently prepared all across Portugal. Dry, soft dough, and not too sweet almonds and candied fruits combine to make this dessert. No candied fruit is used in bolo-rainha. The person who discovers the dried broad bean concealed within must purchase the following bolo rei for the rest of his life.

For an excellent guide to Lisbon get the brilliant Lonely Planet Guide pocket guide

Biscuits in Brussels

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In the Low Countries, the holiday season begins with the smell of spicy, freshly made biscuits. All year long, Speculoos, a crunchy biscuit with cinnamon and brown sugar, is enjoyed in the form of a small biscuit served with cups of coffee all over the globe. The cookie, on the other hand, was originally linked with the early December holiday known as Saint Nicholas Day, after which it is named.

Children used to put their shoes by the chimney with carrots for Saint Nicholas’s horse, and they’d wake up to discover cookies in their place every morning. Brussels claims speculoos as its own, despite the fact that Ghent and Bruges in Flanders are known for their cookies. Belgian bakers create one-foot-tall speculoo Christmas trees every December, using old-fashioned wooden molds. In the neighborhood of Rue au Beurre, Maison Dandoy is the most well-known cookie manufacturer.

For an in-depth look at Brussels get the Time Out city guide here

Prague’s fish specialties and sweet bread

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During the weeks running up to Christmas, Prague’s streets are alive with an unusual odor and appearance. Fish farmers in full regalia sell live carp from big water-filled tanks all across the city. Fried carp served with potato salad has been a traditional Christmas lunch in Czech homes since at least the 19th century, with the original recipe ascribed to Magdalena Dobromila Rettigova, known as the mother of Czech cuisine. However, others prefer to have the fish dealers slaughter the carp there and then; however, the more amusing practice is to bring the fish home alive and let it swim about in the bathtub until it’s time to cook the feast, which is served on Christmas Eve. Visit Pilsen Restaurant in the Municipal House or Aureole to eat this famous meal (both offer special Christmas menus). A scale saved, dried and placed in your wallet for the year is considered to bring good luck.

Vanocka, on the other hand, is a delectable sweet bread eaten on Christmas morning. It resembles a braided brioche or a Jewish Challah and is made with yeast, raisin, almonds, and lemon zest, and is topped with powdered sugar. It dates back to the 16th century and gets its name from the Czech word for Christmas (Vanoce). Eska, a café and bakery, and Antoninovo Pekarstvi, a neighborhood bakery with two locations, are also excellent places to enjoy Vanocka. To serve, cut into wedges and serve with butter or honey, or simply eat this delicious Czech Christmas bread straight.

For a really comprehensive guide to Prague and the Czech Republic get the brilliant Lonely Planet Guide

The perfect pancakes of Berlin

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In June 1963, US president John F. Kennedy made a fool of himself by stating “Ich bin ein Berliner,” which translates to “I am a doughnut” in German. Spending New Year’s Eve in Berlin will help you to dispel this myth. Berliner pfannkuchen, or “Berlin pancake,” is the correct German title for a jam-filled doughnut. People call it a Berliner in the majority of the nation, but they call it a pfannkuchen in Berlin. For despite its year-round availability, most bakeries only serve Berliner pancakes on New Year’s Eve. As a joke on an unfortunate visitor, it is customary to sneak in a mustard-filled doughnut for every eight filled with jam (senf). Have fun, and be kind to JFK.

Click here to get the pocket Rough Guide to berlin including street maps and the best places to eat, stay and drink

Moscow’s Soviet-style salad

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If you want to enjoy Russian winter holidays to the fullest, you must eat the mayonnaise-heavy olivier salad. Another name for this dish is the Russian or Stolichniy salad. This dish dates back to Soviet times, when it was difficult to get high-end ingredients like chicken or steak. They eat it, too, in the greatest Russian new year film, the romantic comedy Irony of Fate (2001). At Teremok, a chain of Russian-style fast food cafés, you may make your own olivier salad for the lowest price possible. The chicken olivier is available at all Varenichnaya locations, part of a network of dumpling cafés. Go to Mari Vanna, where the ham olivier starts at RUB470 (about £6), if you want to splurge.

Click here to get the DK Eyewitness guide to the best of Moscow

Copenhagen’s creamy rice pudding

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Risalamande, a cold rice pudding with whipped cream and chopped almonds served with a hot cherry sauce, is a must-have during Christmas time in Denmark. When the price of rice skyrocketed during World War II, cream and almonds were added to the traditional Christmas dish of rice pudding in order to extend its shelf life. Christmas Eve in Denmark is when a huge dish of pudding is served with a whole almond on top. The “almond gift” is given to the person who obtains the almond first. Some individuals – mostly uncles and grandfathers – have been known to conceal the almond in their palm or their cheek, putting family members not only in tremendous anticipation but also with hurting tummies from eating entirely too much of the rich and satisfying dessert. This has caused many a family feud. In Copenhagen, if you’re not spending Christmas with family at a Danish house, risalamande may be found in several restaurants. Schonnemann’s in the city center serves some of the greatest smorrebrod in the area. The pickled herring and schnapps are a must-have as well.

Click here to get the Lonely Planet pocket guide to Copenhagen featuring top sights and a guide to local life

Pork dishes, Bucharest

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While the ritual of butchering a pig for Christmas has long since ceased to exist in Romanian cities like Bucharest, pork dishes, along with copious quantities of tuica, remain omnipresent throughout the holiday season in rural Romania (fruit brandy). When it comes to Christmas, sarmale (rice, minced meat, and onions in cabbage leave wrapping) holds a prominent position on the table with other traditional meals like piftie (pork and garlic in gelatine), sorici, and jut/76H (fried pig fat pieces). Bucharest’s traditional restaurants, like Caru’ cu bere (19th-century beer hall in the heart of the city), Hanu’ lui Manuc (seventeenth-century traders inn), and Curtea Berarilor (seventeenth-century merchants inn), offer a full menu featuring traditional Romanian dishes, including platters of these meaty treats prominently.

Click here to get the Berlitz pocket guide to Bucharest with a handy dictionary to get you going

Seasonal smorgasbords in Stockholm

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Every December, throngs of people compete for a limited number of available seats at festive banquets known as julbord (Christmas table). Pickled herring, cured salmon, and meatballs are all common smorgasbord ingredients. Although it’s a seasonal buffet, Christmas-themed food like Jansson Temptation (potato-anchovy casserole), dopp I grytan (pork broth-dipped bread), and lutfisk (gelatinous white fish dish) are all staples of the traditional Swedish julbord. These dishes are all served alongside the non-alcoholic sweet root beer alternative ju/must. Even though restaurants tend to be packed at this time of year, you can have an authentic julbord on one of Stromma’s steamboats for just SEK 595 (about £51) and ride around Stockholm’s archipelago.

If you’re planning a trip to Sweden find out a little more with the Lonely Planet Sweden Travel Guide

Paris, it’s game on!

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When it comes to the traditional French Christmas dinner, known as Le Reveillon, it’s always held on the evening of December 24th. This meal typically includes the controversial and controversially expensive foie gras (which is banned in some countries), as well as other foods like oysters, smoked salmon and turkey (or capon) and buche (a chocolate cake). Quite a bit of stuff is brand-new. Catholic families traditionally ate their Christmas dinner after midnight mass, which began at that time at 12 a.m. The Christmas meals served back then varied from place to region: oysters in the west, foie gras in Alsace and the south-west, and pig in rural regions.

The Christmas buche, often known as a log cake, is a unique custom. Until the family returned from mass, a log was placed on the fire to keep it running through the night. Because there are fewer chimneys nowadays, the log has been replaced with a chocolate cake dessert, which is now mostly industrially prepared and filled with ice cream. Julien, part of the opulent art-nouveau complex that includes Bofinger, La Coupole, Flo, and the Terminus Nord, offers a three-course Christmas menu for €69, including appetizers such foie gras and/or snails and a glass of champagne (by the Gare du Nord). Loth is an up-and-coming neighborhood in Paris’s affluent 18th arrondissement.

Planning a stay in Paris? You’ll find the original Michelin Guide to Paris an invaluable companion for any length stay

Sugar and shortbread overdose in Madrid

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The traditional Christmas fare in Spain may include shellfish, bream, lamb, and turkey, but nothing screams “Merry Christmas” like the mountain of sweets that appear on tables and fill tummies at the end of December. Turron (Spanish nougat) comes in a variety of textures, but its popularity remains constant. Also popular are polvorones (shortbread) and mantecados (which take their name from the dust they disintegrate into) (like polvorones but enriched with lard). As far back as the 19th century, some of Madrid’s most venerable confectioners served the city’s sweet-toothed residents, including Casa Mira, La Antigua Pastelería del Pozo, and El Riojano. Preparation is key, as is having a strong desire to consume large quantities of sweets.

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