5 of the Best Food and Drink Secrets in Europe

Europe is filled with interesting places to eat and drink. The choices of foods on offer are seemingly endless, and every one of them has some extraordinary history and tradition behind it. The following is a quick guide to five of the best food and drink secrets in Europe.

Bologna, Italy: an overlooked paradise

When people mention the great Italian cities, Bologna doesn’t usually get the attention it deserves. Apart from being a beautiful historic city in its own right, there is a wonderful wealth of interesting cuisines waiting to be discovered.

The most famous invention of Bologna, of course, is bolognese sauce, known in Italy as ragu alla bolognese, and in Bologna itself simply as ragu. Obviously the best place to sample the most authentic and true ragu is in Bologna.

Lyon, France: an impeccable tradition of fine dining

Lyon is another of those cities that tends to be overlooked. This is a fact made all the more amazing by the matter of Lyon being the third-largest city in France. Lyonnaise cuisine tends to be quite focused on locally produced meats and cheeses. The meat dishes are adventurous, to say the least, and certainly not suited to picky eaters.

Your doctor may never forgive you, but if you’re a serious foodie, you need to sample Lyonnaise fare at least once. Of course a word of warning is in order…whenever anything culinary is described as “adventurous”, there always comes with it a certain possible risk of illness. Adventurous travelers often take things a little too far and end up having to make a string of holiday illness claims, so use a little common sense when choosing what you’ll indulge in.

Munich Germany: the home of beer soup

Yes, you read that correctly – beer soup! Germany has long been known for its love of beer in all forms, so really it should not come as any surprise that they’ve even got a soup made from beer. While traditionalists may be horrified at the waste of good beer, it’s actually quite a tasty accompaniment to your favorite beverage. There are two different variations of beer soup.

The first is simply beer thickened up with roux, and then spiced with cinnamon, ginger, and various other ingredients possibly including rum. If it sounds like a hangover cure, that may be why it was traditionally considered a breakfast food. The second variation of beer soup is more unusual. It is a cold soup made from beer with black bread crumbs, sugar, and currants.

Malaga, Spain: truly Spanish food with a Moorish influence

As one of the southern-most coastal cities in Spain, Malaga has had a rich history of conquest and liberation. The cuisine here has been strongly influenced by North African spices brought in by the invading Moors, who also gave the city its name (Malaqah).

What you will find here is an incredible selection of tapas dishes with a unique Malaganese signature. The easiest way to get introduced to the tapas of Malaga is to take the Malaga Tapas Tour, offered by Spanish Food Sherpas.

Algarve, Portugal: indulge your sweet tooth

Being a tiny maritime country, Portugal is famous for seafood, but less well known for the incredible range of desserts and cakes. Like nearby Malaga in Spain, Algarve was once under Moorish occupation, and the influence on local cuisine is obvious.

In addition to spices, the Moors also brought what were then considered exotic fruits such as almonds and figs, which have been widely employed in making many fascinating and delicious sweet treats. The two you can’t possibly leave Portugal without sampling is Figos Cristalizados (literally “crystallized figs”) and Tarte de Amendoa (almond tart). Unbelievably simple foods, they are nonetheless delicious.

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