Famous Dishes in Southern Europe
Many of us have been stuck at home these days. While watching movies, playing online slots, or binging our favourite show is always fun, sometimes a little tastebud exploration is in order. If you’re ready to go on a gastronomic journey and discover some of the most famous Southern European dishes, then keep reading.
A Region Rich in Cultural and Culinary Charm
Also known as Mediterranean Europe, Southern Europe encompasses various countries, each with their own unique heritage and cuisine. From Spain, Italy, and Greece to Bulgaria, Portugal, Cyprus, and many others, dishes from this region are rich in flavour - and history.
It’s a part of the world that was home to some of the most influential ancient civilizations, such as the Phoenicians and the Greeks. It also saw the rise and fall of the Roman and Ottoman Empires. Classical Antiquity and the Renaissance Era are just two examples of the region’s notable periods.
Along with innovations in law, military, the arts, philosophy, science, and literature, the region is known for its distinct culinary heritage. Owing to the Mediterranean climate and the diverse hub of cultures, Southern European dishes typically include:
- Fruits and nuts
- Exotic spices
- Red wine
5 Mouth-Watering Dishes From Southern Europe
The culinary delights of Mediterranean Europe are far too many to list here. That said, let’s look at some of the famous dishes the region has to offer.
Moussaka is a hearty casserole dish made with fried eggplant slices, ground beef or lamb, and a rich béchamel sauce. Traditionally, you’d cook the meat with onion, garlic, tomato, and red wine, but added nutmeg or cinnamon enhances the flavour. For a healthier alternative, many prefer to bake the eggplant in olive oil and include a variety of vegetables.
Dating as far back as the 14th century, ravioli dishes are famous across the world. The original meal consists of homemade pasta pouches stuffed with spinach, ricotta cheese, black pepper, and nutmeg. In Northern Italy, locals used lemon rind instead. It’s usually drenched in a creamy sauce. Ravioli can come in various shapes, and with any stuffing you prefer.
Tapas refers to a variety of snacks or appetizers, served hot or cold. The dish is typically found in social settings, bars and restaurants. Some popular tapas include battered and fried squid (chopitos), prawns, spicy sausage (chorizo), cheeses, and olives.
Portuguese Pastéis de Nata
These pre-18th Century desserts were created by Catholic monks. Made with golden puff pastry, caramelized egg custard, and dusted with cinnamon, Pastéis de Nata are delectable treats. They’re enjoyed by the Japanese, English, and even Western Europeans.
Turkish Döner Kebab
This dish is simply seasoned meat stacked in the shape of a cone and cooked on a vertical rotisserie. The outer layers are expertly sliced off and stuffed into pitas, wraps, and flatbreads. Tangy sauces, salad, or vegetables complete the meal.
Southern Europe is drenched in vivid cultural heritage, historical significance, and innovation. This is evident in the region’s famous dishes like Moussaka, Ravioli, Tapas, Pastéis de Nata, and Döner Kebab. If you haven’t tried them yet, what are you waiting for?