To celebrate the host of European trips now on offer, we thought we would take a look at some of our favourite cuisines that really reflect a diversity of cultures, where flavours and culinary customs move beyond borders. Did you know that years of Austrian rule infused Bosnian cuisine with a host of Viennese ingredients, or that Georgian cuisine is heavily influenced by both Ottoman and Persian empires? Here are our top 5 ‘East Meets West’ cuisines.
This fascinating country - nestled North of Turkey on the Black Sea - has a delicious cuisine that draws influences from Russian, Turkish, Persian and Middle Eastern flavours. Think salads with walnut paste, olive oil and fresh herbs and mezze dishes such as mkhali and pkhali which are vegetable, aubergine, beetroot or walnut pastes topped with pomegranates.
Georgia also claims to be the birthplace of wine!
Khachupuri, Georgia’s most famous dish, is a baked flaky pastry with homemade melted cheese. It’s absolutely delicious. For dessert, we suggest trying some Churchkhela. Nicknamed the Georgian snickers (yes, you read that correctly), this sweet is created from a string of walnuts coated in a pinkish caramel made from grape juice.
Pocketed between Greece and Montenegro on the Adriatic Sea, Albania is one of Europe’s best kept secrets. Albanian food is a fusion of Italian and Turkish cuisine. Sounds like a perfect match doesn’t it?
The climate is ideal for growing a wide variety of fruit and vegetables, and an Albanian meal isn’t complete without plenty of ripe aubergine, peppers and fresh herbs. Lunch is traditionally the main meal of the day, which usually consists of a flavoursome stew or soup made with lots of fresh vegetables, black pepper and a lightly dressed salad. Yoghurt and lemon juice are popular flavourings and soft white cheese is often served for breakfast, lunch and dinner – a kind of homemade feta. And let’s not forget the famed seafood…freshly caught and finely seasoned seabass and mullet… heavenly!
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia Fruit - credit Markow76 Flickr
Bosnian cuisine is a fascinating mixture of Turkish and Eastern European favours, which also has a unique Austrian influence due to years of Austrian rule. It has something for everyone, whether you’re a meat-craving carnivore or a crunchy-veggie loving vegetarian.
Sometimes simple is best: fresh white farm cheese is served with scrambled eggs and bread for breakfast. Be sure to try Japrak, a kind of Bosnian dolma, or stuffed cabbage roll. And good news: baklava is on every street corner!
Bulgaria is another country that is famed for its incredible variety of fruit and vegetables – some would say a veggie haven! Shopska salad really defines Bulgaria - made from ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and peppers topped with crumbled, homemade cheese.
Bulgarian banitsa - credit Georgi Kirichkov Flickr
Patatnik is another local delicacy, a bit like a potato gratin with onions and cheese and seasoned with fresh mint and herbs. And last but not least, banitsa are traditional pastries made with egg and can be found throughout the country in different variations with pumpkin, spinach or cabbage… or for the sweet tooth, apple and walnut.
The ultimate East-meets-West crossroads of Europe and Asia destination! Al fresco dining, bustling spice bazaars and the joining of worlds in many dishes. Turkey is a street food lover’s paradise – ‘must tries’ include halep kebabs, bourek (cheese or meat fried pastries) and pide (Turkish pizza). Dolma is a firm vegetarian favourite: stuffed aubergine, peppers or courgette flowers!
Turkish food is so good, we have a whole food tour dedicated to this amazing cuisine!
We have a whole range of Real Food Adventures on offer as part of our food-themed adventure holidays, so go on, eat your heart out!