Sunday, 26 October 2008

Food in Europe

That perceptive traveller Jan Morris has these observations and recollections after half a century of eating European:

The Italians eat most sensibly. The British eat most unheathily. The Spaniards eat most abstemiously. The Scandinavians eat most fastidiously. The Greeks eat most monotonously. The Belgians eat most indigestibly. The French eat most pretentiously. The Germans eat most.

Irish oysters are best. German asparagus is best. Dried cod is best in Portugal, eaten with onions and scrambled egg. Raw herrings are best in the Netherlands. The richest dish I ever ate was a soup made of baby eels, in Valencia.The best food I ever eat is pasta al burro with a local red wine and a mixed salad almost anywhere in Italy.

My favourite café in Europe is the Grand Café in the main square at Oslo: this is dominated by a huge mural of the place identifying regular customers of its nineteenth-century prime—Master of the Horse Sverdrup, Landowner Gjerns, Writers Olsen and Ibsen, and many another—all of whom, mutatis mutandis, are to be seen to this day eating prawns and smoking at its tables.

My favourite European restaurant is the Walnut Tree near Y Fenni, Abergavenny, in Wales, one of whose famous specialities is Lady Llanover's Salted Duck. My favourite European bar is Harry's in Venice, where sultry Italian aristocrats swapping modish gossip confront self-conscious tourists laughing nervously when they see the bill.

In Cognac, France, they offer you soup, pâté and sausages for breakfast. In Aachen, Germany, they sell twenty different kinds of liquorice. Belgian specialities include deep-fried sausages stuffed with shrimps, and mussels with chips.It used to be said (although I find it hard to believe) that in Burnley, Lancashire, more Benedictine liqueur was drunk than anywhere else in Europe, the Lancashire Fusiliers having picked up the habit in France during the First World War. An advertisement for the Hostinec u Kalicha in Prague says that its cuisine is Heavy, Fat and Unhealthy, but Very Nice. In a little shop beside the canal at Colmar, in a part of France that used to be German, the family of J-B. Werz have been selling fish since 1686; they keep live crayfish in a tub, and their motto is "Pensez Poisson!" - "Think Fish!"

...continued HERE

No comments: