Written by Lilian
November 22, 2022
One of my favorite ways to learn about different European cultures is the food. Since I have been in Europe, I have followed the mantra of trying cultural food regardless of how different the dishes sound. The following is a list of some of the biggest winners and losers I tried over my stay at GTE:
Win: Cinnamon Rolls
These Cinnamon rolls were probably my favorite thing I ate while in Europe. They were super soft and moist; the powdered sugar which was generously dusted on top did not make the pastry dry. Every layer of the roll blended together perfectly. 10/10 would highly, highly recommend! I loved them so much I would fly back to Iceland just to get them again.
Fail: Icelandic Fish Stew (Plokkfiskur)
Plokkfiskur is a traditional Icelandic fish stew made of fish, potatoes, onions, and bechamel sauce. The result is not a stew per-say, but a thick, rich, creamy chowder which tastes heavily of fish. It is usually served with a piece of sweet rye bread. While I am glad that I tried this staple dish while in Iceland, I was a little put off by the soft consistency of the dish, and could not get over the texture.
Win: Pumpkin Everything
When I first got into Italy, the first dish I sampled was pasta– pumpkin filled ravioli, to be specific. It was probably the best pasta I have ever tasted. The next day, I continued my pumpkin tirade, this time with pizza. It was a pumpkin, prosciutto, walnuts, and fior de latte covered pizza which was surprisingly delicious.
Fail: Pizza with Anchovies
“Pizza Napoli” is a type of pizza which includes anchovies as the topping of choice. Anchovies are a type of saltwater forage fish which live in the Mediterranean Sea. Because of this, they are quite salty and can be a flavorful addition to pizza. However, I found the cheese and sauce drowned out the taste of them too much. They didn’t add anything to the pizza, and the entire meal tasted just like a normal margarita pizza.
Win: French Onion Soup
I love French Onion Soup, so when I visited Paris, it was on the top of my list to try. It exceeded all my expectations; the soft bready croutons, the creamy cheese, and the richness of the onions perfectly combined for an amazing, iconic French dish.
Fail: Squid Ink Risotto
I personally don’t think the squid ink added anything to the dish; the pasta was tasteless in my opinion except for the faint trace of salt. However, the overall look of the dish was very vibrant and distinctive.
Win: Belgian Waffles
Belgian waffles were originally called Brussels waffles due to the origin of the dish. The name was changed in order to increase their popularity in the United States. The Belgian waffle is eaten with your hands with minimal toppings. The waffles are fluffy and dense, and you can find them in dessert shops and on every street corner in Belgium.
Fail: Beef Tartar
Beef tartar, or raw ground beef, is one of France’s signature dishes. This steak tartar was served on bread with pesto and is considered a delicacy. I, however, did not like beef tartar that much; it was very bland. Also, to me, eating raw beef did not sit with me well. Even though multiple sources online tell me it is perfectly safe, I cannot get over the fact it is completely raw meat!
Win: Dutch Pancake
Dutch pancakes, or pannenkoek, are large thin pancakes with a wide variety of topping ranging from sweet to savory. These pancakes are usually about a foot in diameter, covering the entire plate! I thought they were delicious and very different from the fluffy American pancake or the very thin French crepe to which I was accustomed.
I will be perfectly honest: when I ordered this meal, I did not look at the menu too hard. I saw an entrée called “The Amsterdam”, and immediately thought “this must be a very traditional Dutch meal.” I did not expect to receive a plate of Liverwurst (which is a typical Dutch meal, just not what I was expecting). Liverwurst is a German sausage made from beef or pork liver, and let’s just say the waiter gave me a weird look when I ordered it which I only understood after I tried the sausage. Safe to say I will never order anything with liverwurst again.
While my culinary journey is far from over, I am thankful for all the food that I have been able to taste and enjoy. I always recommend future students to stretch your culinary appetite as I have done! While you may not love everything you try, I believe you will enjoy the vast majority of food you eat here and will almost certainly return home with a new favorite dish or two.