We all need a break sometimes. It’s only when you’re about to explode that you realize Superman and Wonder Woman are comic book characters and, in reality, no one can do it all. Whether a break means taking a vacation to the tropics or going on holiday to enjoy friends or family, there’s no arguing that it means getting away from stress and responsibility to appreciate yourself and cherish simple pleasures. Just as everyone does, I took a break this year. My break meant going abroad, taking in the sights, sounds, smells, and savors of the places I would visit. I chose my destinations carefully, researching the textures and tastes that each location valued. I wanted to be sure to go from one extreme to the next while tasting everything in between. So, I settled on Italy and Scotland. One, known for it’s ah-mazing food and the other, not so much…
I took a year and told myself that I would not go home until 12 months had passed. American culture would be left behind, forgotten while I appreciated my year in Europe. While abroad, I made an effort to recognize and appreciate the foods that each new place had to offer. I created a “Euromenu” of sorts for each location: a compilation of traditional foods from each of the countries I explored. At my halfway point, and after two and a half weeks of non-stop travel, I think I may have finally come up with a successful final product. So if you’re in the mood for Italian, French, German or even Scottish food, here are a few ideas!
**5 European Menus**
1. Italy. Okay, so we all know Italian cooking consists of pasta, pizza, and panini. All of that is true, but there are a few delicious foods that don’t get as much attention. Try a traditional Tuscan Cannellini Bean side dish, Ribollita Soup (made from hard leftover bread and adapted from traditionally poorer areas of Italy), Marsala Chicken (covered in a Marsala wine sauce), and for dessert, Stracciatella Gelato or Tiramisu. Oh, and we can’t forget the Chianti wine. Mmmmm!
2. France. My French food favorites comprise more of a lunch menu. Try a Croque Madame (unlike a Monsieur, a Croque Madame is topped with an egg and Béchamel sauce), side salad Nicoise (tuna, hard boiled egg, anchovies, olives, and rocket greens AKA arugula), and for dessert a mille-feuille or mousse au chocolat! No French lunch would be complete without Orangina as a beverage. Bon appetit!
3. Germany. In Germany, it’s not really hard to choose your meal. Most menus consist of meat and beer. So, to stay true to German traditions, so does this one. For a taste of Germany I have settled on Bratwurst (or Currywurst which is Bratwurst topped with a tomato-based sauce) in a baguette or with sliced fried potatoes, a large salted pretzel (or topped and baked with cheese), and of course at least one pint of beer (I would recommend Augustiner)!
4. Ireland. The Irish are known for their drinking, but often overlooked for their food. On the Irish menu it will come as no surprise that potatoes are always the star. My favorites in Ireland were Irish Stew (or Beef and Guinness Stew), potato dumplings, Champ (potatoes and scallions), and for dessert, Irish Potato Cake or Potato Biscuit (eaten with jelly or something sweet). Make sure to wash all this starch down with a Guinness or Bailey’s and you might as well be in Ireland!
5. Scotland. Now the Scots are always put down for their food, but I must say, although it doesn’t sound appealing, Scottish food isn’t half bad! For a slice of Scotland I would recommend Chicken Breast Stuffed Haggis (just try it, it’s delish!), “tatties” (potatoes), Scotch Pie/Mince Pie (which is a meat pie usually eaten as a snack), and Cranachan for dessert (a sweet mix of honey, whipped cream, raspberries, sometimes oatmeal, and always whisky). To drink, of course, have either Irn Bru (also known as an impeccable hangover cure) or Scotch whisky. Yum!
Enjoy your taste of Europe!
Candice Allouch is a junior at American University but abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland during the spring semester where she loves to try out new and intriguing tastes, from gastropubs to traditional restaurants (where Haggis is a must).