Believe it or not, this is the last food tip of the year – and it makes me feel both sad and relieved. Because there is no dish that’s really good enough to celebrate the end of the year, the promise of summer and freedom, I decided to create the perfect trans-European food itinerary for you.
If you have the time and money to travel a little bit I highly recommend it, if for no other reason, just to get rid of all that exam stress (if you had any, of course). Though realistically none of you will actually embark on Andrada’s culinary adventure across Europe, if you do travel I do advise you to make the best out of it and eat something you are unlikely to find in London. Like affordable housing or something I don’t know.
First stop, Italy. Admittedly, Italy is a lovely summer destination and while Rome might be one of the more popular pit stops, it is far from my favourite. If you happen to pass through, try not to miss the Quinto quarto – just because Rome is the home of this dish – and if la pajata is a bit too much for you (I will admit that intestines served with tomato based sauce and rigatoni is not for everyone), you should definitely try coda alla vaccinara! For renaissance geeks I recommend bistecca alla fiorentina – a renowned beefsteak found in Florence – totally delicious. My favourite thing about Italy is that no matter where you go you will find a wine, cheese, steak and dessert specific to the location you’ll find yourself in. So keep an eye out for those rare local delicacies!
My next stop is France. And France is pretty damn nice if you avoid the big cities, with their boiling hot temperatures and hordes of tourists. Feel free to ignore my advice if you’re feeling great and want to fight with legions of tourists for the best picture with the Mona Lisa, or for a waiter’s attention in a restaurant. If you’re not up for that, try a nice small village and sample some local food. French local delicacies are great, everywhere, or at least, everywhere I went. I know you know to try the famous Ratatouille, the foie gras, truffles,and cheese and wine. Try to refrain from binge drinking fine wines to drown the pain that comes with failing your exams. Unless you need the extra tipple to feel brave and try some escargots! The name might sound scary/fancy, but they are only snails. They are worth trying at least once, and, if you’re still feeling it, try some quenelles – they’re just dumplings, promise..
Because you probably want to spend your summer in a nice sunny warm place – definitely not because I have no idea about what people in Nordic countries eat – let’s move on to Spain. If you feel like having the blood of a suckling pig or lamb on your hands, go to Segovia and try Cochinillo asado (I’ve heard that they also have some nice… art (?) landmarks (?) cultural events (?) worth seeing, but don’t quote me, I just care about the food). Even if your trip does not include this destination, it’s well worth the detour! If you love seafood, don’t hesitate to order some gambas al ajillo – and this comes from someone who is not a huge fan of prawns. Because you are cultured and have probably met at least one Spanish Erasmus student by now, I’m sure you’ll try paella and tortilla espanola without me recommending it.
Final and perhaps surprising destination: Poland. I’m planning on visiting soon and I’ll share with you all the dishes I’ll be trying (you’re welcome). Although I obviously disagree with the scorn often exhibited towards Eastern Europe, I know that few people know or appreciate the cuisine – except for maybe borsch and …uhm…vodka. Unless of course they’re Eastern Europeans. So I will try and keep it short. If you happen to be in Poland this summer, definitely try some pierogi. I was told that anything you buy anywhere else in the world is just a very sad version of an authentic Polish pierogi. Also on my to-do list: grilled oscypek and apple with bacon and cranberry sauce, sernik – because there is never enough cheesecake – golabki and mazurka.
I have faith in you and I know that wherever you’re planning on going, you’ll be able to find some amazing food. Sure, if you search enough you can find pretty much anything in London. But, and this is a big but, you can only try the authentic dishes in their birthplaces. Not to mention they’re probably a lot cheaper in their country of origin. So travel safe, eat well, and return with your tummies and batteries full.