Who’s dish is the best? All nine members of The Scoop spent the afternoon reminiscing about their national foods.
Jacob, United Kingdom:
The Bacon Sandwich (or bap). Two slices of bread (a roll if you’re feeling adventurous), a thin layer of butter, three slices of smoked back bacon topped off with your condiment of choice. What else is there to say?
The real strength of this timeless masterpiece is its flexibility. We have hundreds of names for the bacon sandwich, and it’s impossible (also unconfirmed) to find ingredients that don’t improve the bacon sarnie.
Paired with some chips you have a whole new meal – a bacon and chip butty to be precise – and a fusion of flavours that’s as exciting as it is delicious. Why not throw a fried egg in there for another layer of greasy goodness? Congratulations, you’ve just made your first bacon and egg cob.
I could go on for hours, but due to word and time restraints I’ll leave it up to you and your imagination to dream up some more tasty treats involving the bacon sandwich.
In praise of pizza...
Water, flour, brewer’s yeast and salt. 4 ingredients and a topping for the perfect culinary experience. Italian by birth, it touches everyone’s heart. Pizza isn’t just a meal. It’s a religious ritual.
It’s the pizza maker kneading the dough with hands covered in flour. It’s the smell of wood of a steaming pizza coming out of the oven.
It’s the reason behind every family reunion or night out with friends.
Pizza is generous to all our five senses.
It’s an endless list of flavors and possibilities.
It’s beer’s best friend and everyone’s secret lover.
Forget about Domino or Pizza Hut. Forget about exotic toppings or sizes.
Pizza has just one size and it’s the right one.
Venezuela has the most amazing dish anyone could wish for, so screw you Italy. The arepa is not only tasty and delicious, it’s the most versatile, too. You can eat it for breakfast, dinner or as a snack. We Venezuelans are very proud of this dish and if you ever meet a Venezuelan who doesn’t like arepas, be skeptical and ask for some ID. He or she might be Peruvian.
It is a very simple thing to do, you take corn flour (a rarity in Venezuela currently) and some water. A little salt if you like flavour, which is optional. You mix it together and then make little balls with it. Then you flatten the balls in perfect circles, if they are not perfect circles they are not ‘arepas’. Grill, bake or fry your arepas, because anything goes in Venezuela!
Next, cut it in half, eat the dough off the knife (like barbarians), and then put literally whatever you want inside. Finally, put it in your mouth and bite in. I personally recommend to be seated for this, the food orgasm can be so powerful that it can bring you to your knees.
After this repeat the whole process until death, and if you are concerned about your figure just remember; arepas are gluten free.
Haggis is a hard-sell. I might as well admit that from the outset.
Were I not from Scotland, I suspect that a sheep’s stomach stuffed with various diced organs would be fairly low on my list of ‘must eat’ dishes. Even if you approach a plate of haggis with no knowledge of what it contains, the stodgy, brown gloop spilling out of a membranous sack hardly represents an appealing prospect.
But Haggis has one saving grace. It’s utterly delicious.
The diced lungs, liver and heart of sheep are mixed with oats and a perfectly balanced blend of spices. When paired with the traditional ‘neeps and tatties,’ (that’s mashed potato and turnip to those unfamiliar with Scottish vernacular) the humble haggis comes alive, dancing on the palate.
Other countries might boast more aesthetically pleasing dishes, but if you swallow your pride and embrace a bowlful of Haggis, I defy you to name a tastier dish.
Cepelinai, or Zeppelins, is without a doubt the most beloved national dish in all of Lithuania, even if making them from scratch requires 3 to 4 hours of really hard work. Be prepared for muscle cramps and sweaty foreheads!
The dish is made from a mixture of raw and boiled potatoes, which are then stuffed with minced pork, and served with a sour cream sauce and crispy bacon bits.
While Cepelinai might seem as nothing out of ordinary for foreigners, the dish is very special to every Lithuanian. It contains most of the ingredients used in traditional Lithuanian cuisine – we Lithuanians are potato maniacs!
Also, making Cepelinai on your own can be quite time-consuming, so it’s something that’s usually associated with special occasions that bring the whole family together.
When it comes to Cepelinai, it’s not unusual for Lithuanians to have eating competitions, with each family member trying to eat more than the rest. Sounds fun, but after eating the second or the third one, be sure that getting up from the sofa will be harder than expected!
Michelle, The Netherlands:
I presume most adults know the beer brand Heineken. The classic green bottle has changed a little over the past, but the colour has always stayed the same. With exports to 178 different countries, it’s one of the Dutch products that really conquered the globe.
Even though Heineken is not my favourite beer from The Netherlands, it sure is the most popular Dutch beer in the world. I’d rather have a Heineken than no beer at all! It’s for these very reasons that Heineken is definitely the best product out of this whole international list.
Sauerkraut, Bratwurst and Beer seem to be the common associations people have when they think about German food.
But let me tell you about the real deal of the Bundesrepublik: Laugenbrezeln. Since I moved to Groningen last August, this doughy goodness is one of the things I miss most about home. Not only are they super delicious, you have to give us some credit for coming up with the idea of twisting ropes of yeast dough into a bow-like shape, to ultimately pull a lye-drop.
Not only is the Brezel (drop the “Laugen” to sound like a native) popular at any meal time, it is also an incredible handy breakfast snack while running to the bus station to get to uni. Believe me, been there, done that.
The Brezel has a long tradition of being the German’s best friend. Although there are several myths surrounding the origin of this alkalised good, it was originally consumed as a Christian fasting meal.
If you’re wondering how to properly eat a Brezel: buy one salted Brezel at the bakery of your choice, go home, scrape off all the salt (take it from an expert), and smear half a pound of butter on it.
So if you ever get the chance to try a real German Brezel, do so. Because Brezeln = Life.
The first thing that comes to your mind when you think about Greek food is souvlaki or gyros. Yes, one of the tastiest and simplest foods Greece has to offer. It’s a part of the country’s cultural identity. Souvlaki’s history goes back to ancient Greece, where everything that makes us proud started. Homer describes souvlaki in Odyssey, and it’s surprisingly similar to our modern version.
Why is it the best “fast” foods in the world? Because no matter how “dirty” it is, it will always be one of the healthiest fast foods in the world. In souvlaki, you will find meat, usually pork, chicken or beef, tomatoes, fried potatoes, onions, fresh salad and of course the legendary tzatziki. Whoever came up with the combination of these simple ingredients is a national hero for the Greeks, who will eat souvlaki for lunch, dinner and even for breakfast if a lot of raki (alcohol) was involved the previous night.
Karelian pie (Karjalan piirakka)
This simple pasty includes everything you need to survive a cold winter: fat and carbs. Rice wrapped in a thin rye crust is the best breakfast, snack or even lunch for anyone who likes rice and bread. We Finns like things simple. You can it eat cold and grab it from any corner shop or supermarket on the go and it will save your day. However, it is at its best served warm and covered with a spread made of chopped boiled egg and butter.
On top of all this, when having a Karelian pie, you will feel a breeze of Finnish history. The recipe was spread from Karelia, an area in Eastern Finland that was lost to the Soviet Union after the Second World War. As the Karelians had to leave their homes and move to other parts of the country, all Finns became familiar with the pasty. Although this marked a tragic period in Finnish history, we can thank the Karelians for this delicious treat!