While traveling in different countries, in order to truly understand their civilization and way of living, you should taste their food and indulge in their unique flavours. For example, if you visit a European country and eat only at American-style fast foods, you miss a big part of the joy of traveling and discovery. The way to get acquainted with the food culture of a city or a country is not necessarily expensive, usually, the best choices are the cheapest ones. In this article we present you five snacks you could find at five different European cities and are inseparably tied with their culture. Have you tried anyone of these ?
Trzesniewski : These open sandwiches are something you could taste only if you are visiting Vienna and were invented by Franciszek Trzesniewski, an early 20th-century Polish cook, who opened the homonymous restaurant-bar in Vienna in 1902. Trzesniewski sandwiches are made of fresh, dark rye bread, cut into small rectangle pieces and smothered in various spreads, from tomato and paprika to egg mayonnaise, or salmon and cream cheese. They are commonly served along with a Pfiff of beer (a small glass 1/8 l) or a shot of vodka. They are a favourite lunchtime treat for the locals and of course very popular among tourists. Nowadays you could find this delicacy at nine different places around the city, but the best place still remains the original spot at Dorotheergasse near Stephansplatz. The queue here around lunchtime is usually long but the service is always quick and sufficient (Dorotheergasse 1, Vienna & eight more places – Austria). [For more information about Vienna see our related article]
Bifana : If you are visiting Portugal and especially Lisbon, the best snack with meat you could taste is bifana. This is actually a bread roll sandwich with a thin fried pork chop. The pork is marinated in a mix of white wine, paprika, olive oil, and lots of garlic. In Lisbon they also add mustard sauce to the sandwich. The locals love bifana and it is one of their favourite street foods. You could find it everywhere around the city, at local street vendors, cafes and tasca restaurants. It is so popular that the Portuguese McDonalds, have their own bifana called McBifana. Our favourite places for bifana sandwich in Lisbon are : O Trevo, a traditional tasca, where the late chef Anthony Bourdain taste bifana and characterized it as “perfection” and As Bifanas do Afonso, a small bar with no tables, where you could please your appetite with a tasty and juicy bifana before continuing your stroll around this wonderful city (O Trevo : Praca Luis de Camoes 48, Lisbon / As Bifanas do Afonso : Rua da Madalena 146, Lisbon – Portugal). [For more information about Lisbon see our related article]
Kibbeling : Kibbeling is one of the most beloved Dutch snacks. It consists of pieces of battered cod cheeks served with a mayonnaise-based garlic or tartar sauce. The name derives from the word kabeljauwwang (cod cheek), although kibbeling is no longer made from actual cod cheeks but from other pieces of cod, hake and haddock. Although nowadays it is a common snack, during the previous centuries and especially in the 19th century, it was an important part of Dutch diet. According to our opinion, the best place to eat this snack in Amsterdam is the Albert Cuyp market. The market is probably the busiest in the Netherlands and is considered the largest daytime market in Europe. It is also an important tourist attraction and a paradise for food lovers and enthusiasts with hundreds of food stalls and street food vendors. Of course, there are many places at the market which serve excellent kibbeling, however, if we have to pick one, our choice would be Vishandel food stall (Albert Cuyp market is located on Albert Cuypstraat, in the De Pijp area of the Oud-Zuid district of Amsterdam).
Tielle : Sete is a wonderful and often overlooked town in Southern France, often called the Venice of Languedoc region. It is the hometown of Paul Valery and George Brassens and one of the most important fishing centres of France. The town is also famous for two things : jousting (fighting with poles from rival boats) and of course tielle. Tielle is a spicy octopus pie that originates from Sete and it is part of its strong Italian tradition. In the course of time, many Italian immigrants were relocated into this coastal town and had a strong influence on its food tradition. The pie is a sort of octopus ragout with herbs in the dough with a delicious golden crust. Tielle has a strong fish and tomato taste, which is also very original and unique. The best places in Sete to taste an original tielle are : Tielles et Pizzas Paradiso, where except from fresh and tasty tielle you could also taste excellent pizza (another Italian characteristic of the town) and Tielles Cianni Marcos, where the dough of the tielle is perfectly crusty (Tielles et Pizzas Paradiso : 11 Quai de la Resistance, Sete / Tielles Cianni Marcos : Rue Gambetta, Sete – France).
Tigella : Tigella, which is also known as crescentina modenese, is a thin round crispy bread originating from the Modena area of Emilia-Romagna in Italy. It was invented by the poor people from the Apennine Mountains, who would gather around the fire to bake their evening bread. It is made from flour, water, salt, and yeast, and traditionally eaten filled with cunza, a spread made from pork lard, rosemary and garlic. Although it has been eaten at home and in traditional restaurants for a long time, in the last decades it has been added to the menu of many fast foods and street food vendors. Nowadays the tasty soft bread could be filled with anything you like but the most popular choices are related to traditional Italian cuisine. Tigella is perfectly combined with prosciutto, Parmigiano-Reggiano and especially sun-dried tomatoes with olive oil. As it is evident from its origin, the best place to taste a freshly baked tigella is the city of Modena. In this wonderful Italian city, the best places to taste a stuffed tigella are : Insolito Bar, not a restaurant but more of a canteen with plastic chairs and plates and Crescenteria La Chersenta, a small place which uses ingredients of perfect quality and taste (Insolito Bar : Parco Enzo Ferrari, Modena / Crescenteria La Chersenta : Via Pietro Giardini 379, Modena – Italy).
All the above is only a small part of the excellent and unique tastes you could find if you are visiting Europe. We are sure there are many more to discover in our future travels. A perfect trip is always accompanied by perfect flavours and tastes you will carry with you for life.
*[All photos are from iStock, except photo of Trzesniewski]