Europe conjures images of couples walking in the rain by the Eiffel Tower and riding bikes in the English countryside. And some of the region’s most notable foods don’t necessarily come from Michelin star restaurants. Americans will recognize many exotic sounding foods and treats as precursors to stateside fare.
Belgian waffles come in two varieties: Brussels and Liege. Brussels (or Brusse) waffles are very similar to what is available in the U.S.: light, airy rectangular waffles that are dusted with powdered sugar and a squeeze of fresh lemon. Liege waffles have a dense, chewy consistency and are laden with pearl sugar, which is the size of barley. The waffle iron carmelizes the sugar, adding a slight bitterness and depth of flavor to the waffle. (featured image)
Bouef Bourginon is a beef stew made with red wine instead of water or beef stock. Ingredients traditionally include pearl onions, mushrooms and garlic and can also include carrots and potatoes.
Bara brith (which means “speckled bread”) is the granddaddy of all fruitcakes as Americans know them today. It’s a fruit loaf that’s buttered and served with tea. Bara brith has a more balanced ratio of fruit to batter so it’s not as dense as fruitcake.
Jamón ibérico (Iberian ham) is made in both Spain and Portugal. It’s highly coveted and carries a sky-high price tag (upwards of $225 a pound), but adventurous foodies can take heart: You only need a few paper-thin slices to sate your palate and a single ham can last up to six weeks when it’s properly stored.
Saganaki is melted cheese, plain and simple. Many regional cheeses, including halloumi and graviera can be used for this dish. The cheese is melted in a small frying pan and once crispy, it’s topped with a squeeze of fresh lemon and served with bread. In America, saganaki is often flambéed and the flames are extinguished with the lemon juice.
Arancini are savory rice balls that surround meat ragu, cheese and peas. The rice balls are breaded and deep-fried and are a meal in themselves.
Potato pancakes (known as raggmunk) are a national favorite and are served with lingonberry jam or fried pork belly. Sweet or savory is up to you!
Varenyky are hearty, flavorful dumplings that can be savory or sweet. Savory fillings include potatoes and onions, liver and onions or cabbage and onions. On the sweet end of the spectrum, cherries add sweet and tart to this treat.
Sauerbraten (literally means pickled meat) is made from red meat or pork that’s marinated for up to 10 days in a spiced and seasoned brine made with vinegar or wine. It’s usually served with cabbage and tiny dumplings called spaetzle.
Khachapuri is basically simple cheese-filled bread. The pizza crust-like dough is topped with salty cheese, baked and finished with raw eggs then baked again just until they’re softly cooked. Some recipes do not add eggs; in either case, the eating protocol is to “rip and dip.” Rip off a chunk of the crisp, chewy crust and dip it in the melted cheese and/or eggs.
If traveling the world isn’t in your budget or lifestyle, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy international cuisine. Check out local restaurants or ones that you can easily drive to so you can sample new-to-you dishes. Adventurous types can Google recipes and make them at home. Either way you choose to try worldwide fare, you’ll be glad for the tasty experience.