One of the best things about going abroad is trying all of the different local food delicacies. Each region of the world has different traditional dishes, cooks with different ingredients, and has its own special flair. The local cuisine is always worth trying while you are abroad, and who knows, maybe you will bring back some new recipes to try at home!
If you are hungry while reading this then grab a snack because you are about to join me on a short tour through some of Europe with the focus on the scrumptious cuisine I found available along the way.
Our first stop is Poland, the land of pierogies. You can find pierogi restaurants throughout the entire country and can get them filled with meats, vegetables, or even fruits! Below is a plate full of strawberry filled, sugarcoated pierogies with a warm vanilla sauce. My mouth is watering just looking at it!
Not only can you stuff yourself full of pierogies, you can also have delicious zapiekanka, an open-face sandwich made from a baguette and as many toppings as you would like. I tried a zapiekanka pizza that had ham, cheese, and ketchup! Good luck eating these without making a mess…
Now let’s head to Poland’s neighbor, Ukraine. The cuisine is quite similar in Ukraine and you will find dumplings a plenty, but too, you can find a la carte meals such as pictured below with things such as borsch (a vegetable soup made out of beets, cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, onions, garlic or dill), olivier (a salad made out of cooked potatoes, dill pickles, eggs, ham, onions, peas and mayonnaise), pampushky (soft, fluffy bread with garlic butter), deruny (potato pancakes) and much, much more.
Just to the south of our first destination, Slovakia is a country known for its dramatic natural landscape and many castles. While there I had the chance to try rezeň, or breaded schnitzel and had some delicious potatoes too. They are also known for their potato pancakes and goulash.
Not too far from Slovakia is the Czech Republic, whose capital Prague is a well visited city by tourists from around the world. There you will find many, many trdelník stands. Trdelník is a traditional cake and sweet pasty made from rolled dough that is wrapped around a stick and grilled and topped with sugar and walnut mix. If you want to be fancy, you can fill the inside with warm nutella! If you plan to study in Prague or anywhere in the Czech Republic for that matter, good luck maintaining your weight because you will be inhaling these delicious sweets on a daily basis because they are ADDICTIVE!
Let’s head more towards the west and stop in Germany. How can you go to Germany and not get a warm, salty, breaded pretzel? In the German culture children wear pretzel necklaces as symbols of good luck and prosperity and more than any other people, the Germans have made the pretzel their own. For some reason, a German pretzel is 100x better than any other pretzel I have had.
I am pretty sure you may have a good idea of where we are headed next based on the picture below…. yep, you guessed it, Belgium! In Belgium there are two different types of waffles that are consumed on a regular basis. First is the Brussels style waffle which is rectangular in shape and is often served with a light dusting of powdered sugar or whipped cream and strawberries (pictured below). The other type of waffle is known as Liege style and is circular or oval shaped and has bits of caramelized pearl sugar inside. They are much denser than Brussel style waffles. Be sure to try both types if you make it to Belgium!
Last but not least, we head to a country of 66 million, France. In France pastries are a plenty. Pictured below is a banana and nutella crepe. You may not be able to see either ingredient, but trust me, it was full on the inside and tasted like heaven. France is also known for its croissants, éclair pastries, and macarons. Are you ready to hope on a flight to Paris after hearing that? I sure am!
While short in scope, but I hope this little European journey inspires you to want to try different foods of the world. Even if you cannot go abroad, head to the international section of your local grocery store and try something new and exciting because you never know what you may find! If you do have the chance to go abroad, enjoy some local dishes as food is a huge part of culture and you don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to try something new! Bon appétit!
Photo Sources: Courtney Smith
Courtney Smith is a senior at Transylvania University studying Psychology. She participated in a Semester at Sea Program and the KIIS Poland Consortia program.