If you were to ask our study abroad group what was the one thing we were most excited about experiencing in Europe, without hesitation the answer would be food. I had heard the stereotype that American food was saturated with fats and tasted of plastic, but growing up knowing nothing else, I was skeptical of the difference that I would notice. Well, I noticed it. On weekend trips I have essentially been living off street food and take-aways, and have now developed a special relationship with each of them. Below, you’ll see some of my as well as my group’s favorite snacks (meals?) that’ll be sure to give you a “foodgasm.
These are by far the thing that I am most blown away by. What Americans call French Fries are just known as Frites (fries) here, and are generally served with a sizeable amount of fresh mayonnaise. The fries are double fried and served hot, salty, and crunchy in all the best ways. The mayonnaise is unlike anything you have ever tried, and by far, the thing that my roommate will miss the most. Other popular sauces to serve with frites are andalouse, a spiced mayo and tomato paste combination, and curry ketchup, each of which are their own special heaven. If you try anything in Europe, try the fries.
If you have a sweet tooth, this one is for you. You can get a sugar waffle, a softer and sweeter waffle, or a Brugge waffle, a crispier option, stuffed and covered and topped with anything you can imagine. My favorite way is topped with hot dark chocolate, fresh strawberries, and powdered sugar. The sweet smell is such a comfort to smell on the various street corners and city squares across the continent. Stuffed with chocolate, covered in caramel, topped with ice cream, I firmly believe that there is a waffle for everyone.
Don’t ask me how, but the pretzels here are indeed better than your average mall pretzel in America. Warm and savory, and often made into a variety of sandwiches, pretzels in Europe are a classic and tummy filling choice. Plus, in Germany, they are served as appetizers at restaurants, and are often the size of your torso. When I’m on the go and hungry, a salty pretzel is my best friend.
When we travel and want to feel like we aren’t broke college students, we indulge in macarons. The plethora of flavor options means everyone can get what they like, and it’s hard to ignore the beauty of your friends nibbling on macarons while touring the Chateau de Versailles. I recommend lemon, rose, and coffee flavors – they’re light, subtle flavors that are the best pick-me-ups after a long day of traveling.
Before arriving in the Netherlands, I had joked with my family that I was going to live exclusively off croissants; silly me, I didn’t know how true that joke would become. With bakeries on every corner, we never have to wonder if we will be able to get the buttery, flaky pastry. Croissants all across the continent can be served plain, with jelly and jams, Nutella, stuffed with chocolate, or made into sandwiches like ham and cheese. This will be the hardest food for me to abandon once I live in the states again, solely because I always have access to fresh and delicious versions of croissants every second of the day. If you have the chance, treat yourself to a slow breakfast of coffee and a croissant to get the feel of a European morning.