The Prominence of the Street Food Scene in Europe.

The words “European cuisine” make one associate them with classic fine dining restaurants and famous chef’s Michelin stars. Contrary to the glossy appearance that this foodscape presents, beneath this cover lays a vibrant and diverse street food scene that is winning the hearts and palates of both the locals and the travellers.

In the late nineties, when I first visited Europe as a tourist, walking on the streets of Europe for the first time and gazing at the carts selling street foods, I couldn't help but get a wave of wonder and excitement. Being an Indian I am fond of street food so I wanted to see how European cities have welcomed this kind of culinary culture. The smell of sausages sizzling and bakery items baking filled the air, together with locals chatting and tourists laughing. It was a festival of the senses, a mosaic of colour and taste that told the story of local traditions and lifestyle. Eating those churros dunked in soft chocolate sauce and savouring the flavour of the Italian ice cream with that tangy taste made me feel I had broken the distance between my country and this new place. At that instant, amalgamated by the sights, sounds, and tastes of European streets, I knew it was the start of an exciting voyage of discovery.

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You just have to go from one vibrant street in Istanbul to another charming suburbia in Paris to appreciate the diversity of Europe's street food as opposed to the landscapes of the continent. In Spain, there comes the innocence of fried churros over the air, and in Italy, it is the odour of wood-fired pizza from the busy piazzas carts. In Greece, the skewered meat saturated in grilled meat is sold on the stands, while, in Germany, currywurst is smothered on the sausages with a tangy sauce that is sold from the currywurst stands. 

European street food scene is not only diverse in terms of food styles but also is interwoven with manifold cultural accounts which make them extraordinary. Centuries of trade, migration, and conquest, followed by the mixture of the flavours and ingredients is one of the reasons why there is a melting pot of flavours in Europe. From the evil eye of the Ottoman spices of the Balkans to the elegance of the French pastry of the Mediterranean coast, each dish is connected with intercultural exchange and adaptation without which would not have such a tasty feast.

Also, it is not only about the food but about the experience that is the street food in Europe. It doesn't matter whether you will be having mulled wine at the Christmas market in Germany, oysters at a seafood festival in France, or you will be having any other delicious food in the street. They offer you an opportunity to experience the local culture and traditions in a lively and shared atmosphere.

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The last years have seen a large increase in the street food scene's popularity which takes the leading role in Europe. With food truck markets and pop-ups being set up in cities on the continent, the classics are getting innovated and new flavours from all over the world are presented.

Furthermore, the rise of social media has played a significant role in the popularity of Europe's street food scene. Instagram-worthy shots of colourful food stalls and mouthwatering dishes have made street food a must-try for travellers seeking authentic culinary experiences.

Ultimately street food in Europe presents variety, innovation, and common objectives of socializing. It is a sign that very often the true tastes and smells are not in fine dining, but in the lively streets and squares where migrated cultures meet and chance to mingle. Therefore, with your next Europe trip, go after your nose and don’t let yourself miss the breathtaking yet tasty street food dishes of this continent.

Neerja Bhatnagar

I'm participating in #BlogchatterA2Z.

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