Ever since applying for the study abroad program with ASU and learning more about Europe in each of the pre-departure meetings, European food had been one of the aspects of the trip I was looking most forward to. Experiencing the food from multiple countries in Europe has been an amazing experience and one that I will never forget. In this post I will be focusing on cuisine and restaurants from three countries: Czech Republic, Germany and Spain. There are some cultural differences that impact the food which was probably the most noticeable during my time in Prague.
What I’ve noticed about Czech cuisine is that it’s kept very simple with a focus on thick sauces and dishes containing potato dumplings and meat. The meals are usually very heavy and can fill you up very quickly and drinking a beer with lunch and dinner is extremely common. For me the Czech food was great but quickly got old. Luckily, Prague is full of various kinds of restaurants that specialize in different foods from around the world that are worth checking out. The variety of food in Prague really surprised me and I was able to find many different Indian food spots in Prague, but to my surprise it was very hard to get the level of spiciness that I craved and no matter how many times I would tell the waiters, the level of spice in my food was too low and I had become discouraged and expected to not find a great Indian place in Prague. All of that changed after hitting K The Two Brothers prior to getting a recommendation from Dave Thomas, the head of the study abroad program. This restaurant completely changed my view of American Indian food and had me really impressed with the quality and flavor of the food. I was also able to get a decent level of spice in my food which was a welcome change from usual Czech restaurants, but the waiter was still very cautious about giving me the right level of heat in my food. I will most definitely be returning to K The Two Brothers before my flight back home, and I’ll have to try and get even more heat in my next dish. The tasting menu at Field is also something I am dying to try.
My experience of German cuisine was mostly limited to my time in the beer gardens and beer halls, with the exception of a breakfast place one morning. Like the Czech republic, drinking a beer with your food is customary, probably even more so than in the Czech republic. The German beer halls/gardens were full of waitresses carrying huge baskets full of gigantic pretzels which tasted amazing and the food stands were full of Wurst and cuts of pork. The experience of cuisine in Germany and the environment in which we were eating was so different from the Czech Republic: everyone was loud and talkative to everyone and there were people that noticeably had a few too many drinks which resulted in them keeling over and letting out some fluids right next to the food stands. The most surprising part of German cuisine was how the United States was influencing their breakfast spots. A small spot called Mr. Pancake had a traditional American pancake breakfast with eggs and American bacon which had me feeling right at home.
The Spanish cuisine experience was by far the best in Europe. During my first night in Barcelona, me and some friends who were traveling from the United States met up and went to a random restaurant to get food. I ordered duck and was asked how I wanted it cooked which was strange to me because I had never been asked how I would like my duck. I chose medium rare and was not disappointed. The presentation was amazing, the flavors of the duck were very rich and flavorful and the tenderness had me feeling like I was eating a steak. On my final day, me and some friends went to La Boqueria, a huge market towards the ocean-side of Barcelona. Inside of this market, behind all of the fruit and meat stands, was a small square space which consisted of one kitchen with bar style seating all around it. The wait was long as we had to wait for other customers to finish their food but was well worth it. The gazpacho at this restaurant had the most amazing and fresh flavors that I’ve ever experienced in a gazpacho which blew me away. Following the gazpacho was a plate of cod and then an amazing wagyu beef burger that I absolutely had to get after hearing about the amazing flavor of wagyu beef. What surprised me about Spain was how awful their beer was compared to the Czech Republic and Germany, but the wine and sangria was definitely leagues above the wine I’ve tried in Prague.
Postcard created with pictures from the BMW Welt Museum