Swiss bakery is among the most diverse in Europe, rivalled only by the Turks. Here are four popular treats and a selection of small bread recipes (taken from our small breads book).
Butterzöpfe is the symbolic (Sunday) bread of Swiss bakery, flûtes au fromage are the wonderful cheese sticks from the Vaud canton, roggenbrot, the rye bread of the valleys, goes with air-dried meat, and birnenweggen is pear heaven.
Taking influences from their conquerors and neighbours, somehow the Luxembourgoise have managed to fashion a modest food culture they can call their own – largely because the ingredients are indigenous.
Food in Ireland has always been defined by invaders, the Celts of eastern, northern and southern Europe and Anatolia, the Vikings, Anglo-Normans, Saxons and Britons, by countless migrants and by the relationships coastal and river people developed as traders with seafarers and travellers.
Early food was based on grains – barley, einkorn, oats, spelt – on dairy produce, on game meat, on inshore, lake and river fish, on eggs (domesticated and wild), on honey and on wild berries and fruit.
Porridge made with milk and oats is one of the oldest traditional dishes. Oats were used in numerous ways, in soups and stews, in confections like honeycomb, and as the essential ingredient in griddle bread. They were fermented to provide the leaven for bread, before bicarbonate of soda and baker’s yeast.
Cooking, curing and curdling methods were influenced by the invaders. The Vikings specialised in air-dried fish but it is likely that the tradition of salt-dried fish was brought from the Iberian peninsula. Whatever the origin, drying fish was a tradition around the Atlantic fringe.
Cockle, eel, haddock, herring, langoustine (Dublin bay prawn), mackerel, pike, salmon, trout and winkle provided protein for coastal, lake and river communities. Sea vegetables such as dulse and sloke were eaten as snacks, and cooked in breads and soups.
Meat from domesticated and wild birds (duck and goose in particular), small animals (hares and rabbits) and large animals (boar and deer) was common, and defined traditional dishes.
The event of the potato, brought by Basque fishermen in the mid-1600s, had a profound effect on traditional food. Usually cooked whole in their skins, a method that retained minerals and vitamins, the potato was used as a thickener for soups (early chowders, for example), as a bulking agent in stews and as a companion for countless dishes – boxty, champ, coddle, colcannon, pratie.
Nothing was wasted. Offal was mixed with pig’s blood and oats to make black pudding. Pig trotter’s were served whole or as an aromatic thickener in soups and stews. Sausage making utilised pork meat and biscuit rusk in a combination that was unique (the continentals put rusk in their meatballs – a tradition that never caught on in Ireland).
Mutton became an important food in the late 18th century. The consequence was Irish stew, made initially with mutton, potatoes, onions and salt, then much latter with other root vegetables and herbs.
Bread making went through countless adaptations in the early 19th century as new ingredients were introduced, and produce and products from overseas – bicarbonate of soda, dried fruit, molasses, soft wheat, spices and sugar – led to the beginnings of many of the dishes now associated with Irish traditional food.
Cakes and confections proliferated, influenced by migrants from France, Italy and Switzerland who introduced home bakeries and ice cream parlours.
Breakfast became the most important meal of the day, and epitomised traditional food, continuing to this day. Depending on the region, breakfast included a combination of foods from bacon rashers, black and white puddings, fried eggs, pork-rusk sausages, potatoes in their various disquises, white soda bread and steak sausages followed by wheaten soda bread and scones with butter, jams and preserves, milky tea or coffee with hot milk. Fast breakfast was fadge – bacon, eggs and potato cakes.
The concept of meat, vegetables and potatoes on a plate probably started in Ireland. Now bacon / gammon / ham, cabbage and mashed potatoes / chipped potatoes or roast stuffed pork, carrots, gravy and mashed potatoes / chipped potatoes or sirloin steak, crispy onion and mashed potatoes / chipped potatoes are thought of as traditional dishes.
‘If you come to Hungary and want the goulash you should order a pörkölt, which you get in nearly every restaurant. Pörkölt is so popular that you even find festivals where Hungarians challenge themselves to make the best, with loads of pálinka and a big celebration at the end.’
Paprika, of course, is the essential ingredient, so five paprika dishes.
Lecsó — onion, paprika, green and red pepper, tomato sauce
The traditional dishes of Gibraltar have their origins across the Mediterranean coastal regions.
Calentita — chickpea fritters (Italian) Bollo de Hornasso — sweet bread (Spanish) Fideos al Horno — baked noodles with cheese and ham (Mediterranean islands) Rolitos — beef rolls (Maltese) Rosto — pasta with meat and vegetable in tomato sauce (Italian)
People, Place, Produce. German cuisine is characterised by its regional produce and the myriad products that have emerged from it. Whether it is the beef that is sourced for sauerbraten, the soured beef of Bavaria and the Rhineland or the duck of Lübeck preferred for stuffing or the young herrings called matjes caught between the first of May and the last day of August that are an essential ingredient in labskaus, the sea farers dish associated with the fishers and sailors who frequented the Baltic and North seas, or the cured smoked pork known as kasseler found in countless recipes. So, with Germany, we decided to break from the single five format and suggest three sets of five traditional dishes.
Bratkartoffeln mit Speck und Zwiebeln — fried potatoes with bacon and onions
Gefüllte Kartoffeln — stuffed potatoes with cheese and eggs
Kartoffeln mit Äpfeln and Bratwürst — potatoes with apple and sausage
Kartoffelpuffer / Reiberdatschi mit Apfelmus — potato pancakes with apple sauce
Traditional food in rural France means pork, but poultry – chicken of all sizes, duck, goose, turkey – and various fowl are always in the mix.
Dindonneau Rôti Farci aux Marrons — young turkey stuffed with chestnuts La Fricassée de Poulet — sautéed chicken in egg sauce Oie Rôtie aux Fruits — roast goose with apples and pears / dried apricots and prunes Paté de Canard d’Amiens — duck paté Perdrix Braisées — braised partridges
Estonia has always been defined by its indigenous food culture, so much that today it celebrates this fact with a strong emphasis on traditional ingredients. Sprats and herring from the Baltic are still popular. Root vegetables, especially beet, have not lost their allure. And despite outside influences the homemade blood sausage remains sacroscant. It is a work of art, unlike any other blood sausage in Europe, and easily made in the home made with bay leaf, barley, belly pork, garlic, marjoram, onions, pig’s blood, pork, spices.
From the heart of Cyprus. If only every tourist organisation in Europe got it together to employ someone like Filakia Tonia to research and write a booklet on its traditional food. Here are five suggestions from her wonderful little book, Food From The Heart of Cyprus.
Afelia — liver/pork marinated in coriander seeds and red wine Fasolaki Yiahni — bean and Feta cheese (lamb – optional) stew Kleftiko — baked lamb Makaronia tou Fournou — macaroni, cheese and meat bake Tahini —garlic, lemons, olive oil, tahini paste