I’m British, and we’re not exactly known for our inventive cuisine; boil it, salt it, or deep fry, it doesn’t really scream the height of luxury does it? I left England with an open mind, an open mouth, and a desire to try something new; and I definitely succeeded. I spent nearly 2 days listing all the food I’ve tried during my time away and I had to narrow it down to a top 10, so you’ll find in this post my all-time favourites.
When I was in the south of France, I visited a little attraction, La Cite des Insectes and I got to try a range of grub. I had both a plain mealworm, and an energy bar with mealworm; a plain house-cricket, and a chocolate covered house-cricket. The owner also offered me a spiced grasshopper, and a locust. I would have to say that out of all the foods I’ve tried on this trip they were probably the weirdest, and not something I would repeat; saying that though, I have included them on this list purely because they were so memorable.
All across Central and Eastern Europe, there is a meat stew called Goulash. Depending on the country, the exact recipe differs slightly but ultimately, it is the same base: meat, a range of spices, and vegetables. In the cold weather of Czechia, this was a fantastic little winter warmer and served with bread dumplings made this a brilliant midday meal to get me through the rest of the day. There’s not really much more I can say about this dish, it’s more something you have to try for yourself.
Mix flour and water together to create dough and then fill with a selection of meat, potato, or cheese and you will have produced a Pierogi. Like Goulash, these can be found across Central and Eastern Europe and are a staple when visiting the countries. I tried a cheese filled dumpling and a meat filled variety when I was staying in Zakopane at the base of the Tatra Mountains. They are suspiciously filling for something so small, and are a brilliant way to warm up after freezing your face off in the cold. Certainly going to try and make this recipe myself.
7. Spanish Tortilla
When I first went back home, after spending a month in Spain, I tried to make a Spanish Omelette, unsuccessfully, but still shows how much of an impact this dish had on me. Since leaving Spain, I have noticed this dish is a lot more international than I first thought, and I highly recommend trying it yourself, even if you’re not a big fan of eggs, as I wasn’t before consuming this. It’s a very simple recipe; thinly slice and lightly fry some potatoes, drain and mix with eggs and then pour back into the pan and cook on both sides until it’s fluffy. Let me know if you make it and I’ll pop round for a taste.
6. Ciorba de Burta
Tripe Soup. As a Brit, this does seem quite unusual at first, but in Romania, it is quite a delicacy. I was dubious to try it at first because it didn’t sound particularly appetising but as soon as I tried it, I was a convert. It’s best served in a deep bowl with garlic, sour cream and a chili. The first layer seems rather watery until it’s all mixed in and then the strands of tripe actually appeared and tasting them they were somewhat rubbery and had a mushroom type texture. For vegetarians, mushrooms can actually be used in this as a substitute for the cow’s stomach due to the similarities.
5. Varza a la Cluj
A stuffed cabbage roll, or sarmale, is a staple of Romanian cuisine, and certainly one dish to be tried when visiting this amazing country. In Cluj-Napoca, they have their own version; Varza a la Cluj, which is all the same ingredients but layered on a baking tray and cooked in the oven. This is a superb meal and goes great when paired with sour cream, a chili and a nice thick cut of meat.
The Swiss have fondue and the Greeks have μπουγιουρντι , and I think I know which I prefer. This meze is made from Feta cheese, tomato, and sliced chili, and then baked until golden. I was so enamoured with this dish that, once again I tried to make it at home but clearly I’m not as skilled as the Greeks and couldn’t do it justice.
We’re in the Top 3 now; this is the big leagues, but not the big foods. In number 3 is Mici, or Mititei; either way, they are small rolls of ground meat, usually mixtures of beef, pork and lamb, and seasoned with an assortment of spices. I had these for the first time at a Barbeque in Vama Veche and I think I must’ve inhaled them, I ate most of them straight off the grill before they were even served to the others. Even just writing about them now is making my mouth water.
In the number 2 spot is the snack that I would almost every day for breakfast during my time in Greece, so much so, that I started to get withdrawal symptoms when I left. Spanakopita, or σπανακόπιτα, is spinach and feta cheese in layers of filo pastry. I wasn’t so enthralled when it was introduced to me; the idea of eating spinach in pastry just seemed a bit bland, but as soon as I took that first bite, I was enamoured. Speaking with family who have visited Greece can also confirm this is an amazing bite and I hope you will agree if you get the chance to try this.
And here we are… The best food I have tried throughout my travels. It had to visit 16 countries across Europe before I got to experience this and I’m truly grateful I did. Börek is filo pastry filled with ground meat and formed into a spiral before cooking. It is best served with plain yogurt to help wash all the grease down. It was just the best dish and I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner; I think I even did at some point. There are different versions in other countries around Eastern Europe but nothing will ever beat the ones I tried in Montenegro, Croatia and Kosovo.
Obviously, this list is incomplete as I have yet to visit a load more countries, but these are the best selection of so far. If you have read about anything you would like more information on, or fancy trying these dishes and would like advice, all my contact details are available in the Contact Me section