The Best Traditional Dish in 30 European Countries

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1.Austria – Strudel

Strudel — made of crisp dough with delicate layers — can actually have many different kinds of fillings. But the apple variety, which also often includes raisins, is by far the most beloved in Austria.Order it like the locals by asking for an “Apfelstrudel.” Enjoy with a topping of whipped cream or vanilla sauce, and get ready for the sugar high of your life.

2.Belgium – Waffles

Belgium is home to culinary favorites like Belgian chocolate and beer — but no dish is more iconic than the Belgian waffle.While in North America, the Belgian waffle is often massive and drowning in syrup, the traditional version is actually a small street food. Eat this treat like it’s meant to be enjoyed — sans forks, either plain or with a small helping of whipped cream and sliced berries on top.

3.Bulgaria – Soup

 

Soups can be found on pretty much every Bulgarian menu, and they’re anything but run-of-the-mill.Try tarator, yogurt-base soup made of cucumbers, garlic, dill and sometimes walnuts, best enjoyed on a scorching hot summer day; or sip shkembe chorba, a spicy tripe soup said to cure a hangover.

4.Croatia – Olive Oil

Iconic Croatian food is hard to pinpoint, as the country’s individual regions boast their own distinct dishes and traditions. But if there’s one beloved food group that makes its way into nearly all Croatian dishes, its olive oil.A common condiment and ingredient across this area of Europe, Croatian olive oil is referred to (accurately) as “Mediterranean liquid gold.”

5.Cyprus – Halloumi Cheese

Widely popular in the Middle East and Greece, it’s believed halloumi cheese actually originated in Cyprus centuries ago (the earliest descriptions of the cheese date back to the 16th century).A mixture of goat and sheep milk give halloumi its signature taste and texture, making this a cheese ideal for grilling rather than melting. During the summer months, Cypriots enjoy halloumi with fresh watermelon for a refreshing snack.

6.Czech Republic – Bread Dumplings

Forget the Asian-style dumplings that may come to mind: “dumplings” in the Czech Republic actually resemble bread loaves. Flour, yeast, egg, salt and milk are boiled, then sliced up into tasty bites.Look for the dumplings served alongside traditional Czech dishes such as goulash and pickled vegetables.

7.Denmark – Smørrebrød

These open-faced sandwiches combine buttered rye bread with some variation of eggs, cheese, meat and/or fish. From that basic template, innovation flourishes; smørrebrød may be topped with everything from roast beef and horseradish to shrimp and red caviar.Eat smørrebrød the way the Danish do: with a fork and knife, the better to keep the ingredients in tact.

8.Estonia – Rye Brea

Estonians have a love affair with their breads, and rye is the most popular variety of all. The bread has been produced in the country for over 1,000 years, and is still found regularly at local restaurants and bakeries.Estonians will tell you that the bread tastes best when it’s warmed, then topped with a dollop of salted butter or Baltic herring.

 

9.Finland – Karelian Pies

Like many of the staples on this list, karelian pies are deceptively simple, featuring a thin crust (typically made with rye flour) stuffed with potatoes, rice or carrots. Try one with egg butter — a mix of butter and hard-boiled eggs — spread on top.And don’t forget to learn to call this by its Finnish name: “Karjalanpiirakka.”

10.France – Croissants

 

The croissant is as indelible to French culture as the Eiffel Tower. And little wonder: the pastry, which is enjoyed any time of day, is flakery, buttery perfection.Fun fact: the treat actually got its start in Austria, before making its way to France and becoming wildly popular there. France is also where the dish got the name we all know it by; in French, “crescent” translates to “croissant.”

11.Germany – Pretzels

Pretzels may actually have been invented by European monks in the Middle Ages — but for centuries, they’ve been most closely associated with Germany.Today, German bakeries and restaurants serve them topped with everything from ham and cheese to pumpkin seed. You can even order a pizza pretzel, or one designed in a donut shape.No matter what kind of pretzel you opt for, make sure to wash it down with another German classic — a boot of ale.

12.Greece – Gyros

If there’s a better hand-held street food than the gyro — flatbread stuffed with rotisserie-grilled meat, then topped with creamy tzatziki sauce — we don’t know what it is. The dish originated in Greece, and in more recent years has become popular across the world, including in the U.S.Outside its home country, “gyro” is one of the most consistently mispronounced foods on the planet. The correct way to say it? Yee-roh.

13.Hungary – Goulash
Goulash is not just a dish, but an entire meal. Dating back to medieval times in Hungary, the meat stew features a mix of spices and seasoning — most prominently paprika — in a rich tomato sauce, and is usually served with pasta.The dish is so popular in Hungary that it was once applied to a national political ideology. “Goulash Communism,” a form of communism that arose in the mid-20th century, was so named because, like the food dish, it represented a mix of unlikely ingredients.
14.Iceland – Skyr

Iceland’s iconic “yogurt” product is a bid misleading. Although it resembles yogurt, tastes like yogurt and is commonly referred to as yogurt, it’s technically a cheese.Regardless, skyr is creamy, mild and the perfect breakfast (or dessert!) choice when traveling in Iceland.

15.Ireland – Irish Stew
Ireland has a reputation for serving little more than potatoes, but it is actually home to a wonderful assortment of distinctive dishes. Case in point: hearty Irish stew, featuring piles of tender meat and gravy, mixed with carrots and (ok, yes) potatoes.Most traditional recipes even incorporate Ireland’s most iconic beverage: Guinness.
16.Italy – Pizza

Pizza-like flatbreads have been eaten since the neolithic age, but pizza as we know it today is proudly Italian.Legend has it that in 1889, a Neopolitan pizzamaker cooked up a pizza to honor Queen Margherita of Savoy, garnishing it with tomatoes, mozzarella and basil to represent the colors of the Italian flag. The result? Margherita pizza, still an Italian favorite.

17.Latvia – Grey Peas

This hearty dish is made from dried peas (similar to chickpeas) cooked with onions and fatty smoked bacon, and is a traditional Christmas dish in Latvia.Per local lore, the peas represent prosperity and vitality (so eat up!).

18.Lithuania – Cepelinai

Cepelinai — a large oval dumpling made with potatoes and fillings such as ground meat, mushrooms or curd — boasts a distinctive oval shape. Indeed, it was named after a Zeppelin airship of the same name, due to its physical similarity to the vessel.Note that the dish is not for the faint of heart: already hearty, it is served with sour cream and fried bacon or pork rinds.

19.Luxembourg – Smoked Pork with Beans

Go to  Luxembourg and you’ll find smoked collar of pork with broad beans, otherwise known as “Judd mat Gaardebounen,” nearly everywhere.Luxembourgers typically enjoy it with boiled potatoes fried in bacon, and pair it with a local beer or a dry white Luxembourg wine.

20.Malta – Rabbit Stew

Traditional Maltese rabbit stew, or “Stuffat tal-Fenek,” has been served in the Maltese Islands since the 11th century.These days, the Maltese people like to serve the stew communally, often cooking a batch that utilizes two or even three rabbits.

 

21.Netherlands – stroopwafel
22.Poland – Pierogi

Pierogies from Poland are semicircular noodle dough dumplings often filled with fresh quark, boiled and minced potatoes, and fried onions. They can also be stuffed with sauerkraut, ground meat, cheese and fruits.Head to Krakow in the summer for the annual Pierogi Festival, during which tens of thousands of the dumplings are ritually devoured.

23.Portugal – Pasteis de Nata

Can you even say you’ve experienced Portugal if you haven’t eaten pastéis de nata? We can’t say for sure.These custard-filled sweet pastries were originally made by Catholic monks at the Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon. In the 1800s, times got hard and the monks started making and selling them to bring in revenue.The rest, as they say, is history.

24.Romania – Cabbage Rolls
Called “sarmale” in Romania, these rolls are made of minced meat with rice and spices, rolled into fermented cabbage leaves, and boiled for hours in a special sauce that flavors and tenderizes the meat.
25.Slovakia – Potato Dumplings

Difficult to pronounce, “Bryndzové Halušky” is one of the most popular national dishes of Slovakia. The potato-dough dumplings (halušky) are filled with with sheep cheese (bryndza) and sprinkled with bacon or sausage on top.Feeling hungry? An annual potato-dumpling festival in Turecka features a competition to see who can eat the most.

26.Slovenia – Giant Cheese Dumplings
Processed with Snapseed.

“Struklj” dumplings are pinwheel rolls of wheat or buckwheat dough filled with various types of cheese filling. They can be sweet (with cottage cheese and walnut) or salty (with tarragon or savory cheese) and are a complete main course in and of themselves.They’re traditionally served with a topping of buttery breadcrumbs, and can be pared down in size and served as a side dish.

27.Spain – Tapas

When it comes to tapas, small dishes made for sharing, the question is inevitably where to begin when ordering. Pro tip: Locals love the croquettes, jamón ibérico de bellota (acorn-fed Iberian ham) and pan con tomate (Spanish tomato bread).And of course paella, a hearty soup of rice and fresh seafood, is a must-order.

28.Sweden – Cinnamon Rolls

It’s no wonder the “kanelbullar,” or cinnamon roll, is ubiquitous on the streets of Sweden. Baked with a hefty amount of cinnamon and topped off with crunchy sugar nibs, the pastry is an uber-sweet treat.The rolls are often enjoyed by locals during “fika,” mandatory work breaks designed to promote eating, drinking and relaxing.

29.Switzerland – Fondue
cheese fondue

Swiss cheese is the first Swiss food that may come to mind, but Switzerland has much more to offer when it comes to cheese.Fondue, a pot of creamy, melted cheese for dipping breads and meats, was designated a national dish in Switzerland by the Swiss Cheese Union in the ’30s in order to increase cheese consumption. Today, it’s a symbol of Swiss unity, and a favorite among the country’s citizens.

30.United Kingdom – Fish & Chips

Tell a Brit to head down to the “chippy” and they’ll immediately know where to go. Nothing says Britain more than a parcel of fish & chips, wrapped in paper and served with salt and vinegar.You can find the dish all over the country, from street corners to Michelin-starred restaurants. Poppie’s Fish & Chips in London is among the most famous for its classic cod and haddock versions.

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