Macedonia 23rd on European Food and Beverage List, Italy First
Kevin Alexander and Liz Childers have comprised a list of all the European countries and the quality their offer in terms of cuisine, the drinking tradition and the overall environment in which these two pleasurable activities are taking place, Yahoo News reads.
In order to render a well prepared and well analyzed list, they have included these criteria: indigenous cuisine, the food and drink cultures within its cities, and the variety that exists within each place. Both writers have traveled to 39 of the 48 countries on the list, had a taste of their local culture and cuisine and have come up with the following:
Macedonia is ranked 23rd on the list, with positive comments about the variety of traditional dishes it uses. According to the authors, the "pastrmajlija" or fried dough topped with cubed, salted meat, the "ajvar" - roasted pepper dip, and "tavce gravce" - beans cooked in a skillet deserve special attention. The Macedonian wines, especially those from the Tikves region, "are no joke either".
Montenegro came 46th on the list because of their adorable "Njeguska prsuta" which is their version of prosciutto. What also make the Montenegrin cuisine attractive are the "not-so-delicious" clear fish soups and smoked bleak.
Kosovo is 41st on the list with very little online information about their national culinary pride. "In the food and drinks section of BeinKosovo.com, under traditional food, there is nothing. Same for drinks. On another site, they point out that people in Kosovo now eat French toast. But they seem to have burek, flija, and all sorts of spinach pies, and Šarski cheese is relatively famous, so we’ll just assume that the web admin for BeinKosovo just got lazy updating the site," write Alexander and Childers.
Another Balkan country, Slovenia is on the 32nd place on the list, first and foremost because it does have three wine regions, produce "delicious local prosciutto and putting all sorts of fillings in struklji, or dough rounds." The traveling writers recommend readers to visit Lake Bled and try the Bled cream cake at Hotel Park.
The famous Bled cream cake. Photo: bled.si
Serbian is a step closer, placed 30th on the list. It is said that the country's tourism website introduces its culinary tradition with a paragraph saying that every meal in the palace during the Serbian Empire in the 1300s was eaten with a pure-gold utensils. They do not use words of praise to describe the spit-roasted game and strudels and cornmeal-potato-feta polenta, but they DO praise highly the beef prosciutto.
Curiously, Alexander and Childers put Albania 26th on the list and speak highly of its good quality Mediterranean food, even though much of the dishes they have tried, such as stuffed eggplant, fig preserves, sautéed lamb and fresh caught fish might sound like Greece or Turkey.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is doing slightly better on the list, being ranked 21st. according to the authors, this country can rightfully boast with the strongest coffee on the continent and the rich culture centered on the phenomenon of drinking it. Bosnian coffee, although similar to Turkish coffee, is ground finer than espresso, while the tiny cup is described as "bold, thick and incredibly rich". Keeping in mind that seeing a friend for a cup of coffee can last for hours, and as it is deemed as a unique way of socializing, Bosnia deserves this position. However, they do take points out for their grilled lamb and beef sausages, cheese-filled burek, and baklava, "which is really delicious, but is even more similar to Turkish cuisine than perhaps even their coffee.
Macedonia's eastern neighbor, Bulgaria, comes 14th on the list, and is described as the country where "nothing makes you stronger than a love of grilled meats (kebapche) and moussaka." That the land where children eat sandwiches filled with lyutenitsa relish, adults eat "some sort of tripe soup that seems alarming, and everyone eats "shopska salata". They believe that the Bulgarian cuisine is a blend of Russian, Italian, Greek and Turkish gastronomy, which all have fun together in a "somewhat hard-to-picture orgy", and that is "not a bad thing".
Greece is praised for its "meze" or tapas comprised of feta, olives, baklava, olive oil, moussaka, tzatziki, gyros, honey, souvlaki and much much more. Thus it is placed on the 11th place. "Greek food — despite being somewhat typical for Americans — is vastly underrated. It’s flavorful and rich, but does not rely too much on any one focus, as you can tell from that annoying list I made a few sentences above. Their anise-flavored aperitif ouzo, on the other hand, is not my cup of booze," Alexander says.
Greek "meze". Photo: tripadvisor.com
Croatia is even better than Greece, standing proudly at the 7th place on the list. The Croatian cuisine is mix of influences, such as Italy, the Mediterranean basin, the French coast, as well as the Slavic aspect of it in the interior of the country. Croatia has extraordinary olive oil, delicious fresh oysters, considered some of the best on the Adriatic coast. They also say that the most famous national dish - roasted lamb "under the bell'' is worth the hype, having in mind the meat is cooked slowly on both sides, in its own juices.
According to the contributing writers, the top place in Europe is held by Italy. "Italy’s cuisine has basically been protected by centuries of Grandmothers who refused to take anyone else’s recipes but their own BECAUSE ONLY GRANDMA’S SUNDAY SAUCE IS GOOD ENOUGH," the writers state the reason for its long-lasting, exceptionally high quality gastronomy. However, the key factor that puts Italy first is the Italian's passion for their cuisine although the national dishes vary significantly in each region.
Italy is followed by France, the country whose cuisine is considered for centuries as the "only worthy fancy restaurant food." The authors of the article note that the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization even recognized French FOOD as part of list of things that demonstrate "intangible cultural heritage". They stress that the beauty of French cuisine comes from its variety.
The list of top five countries is comprised of Italy, France, Spain, Georgia and Germany.
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