From Brussels to Vilnius, These Are Europe's Top Five Street Foods
Whilst Asia is hugely recognised for its street food culture, Europe is equally as diverse in-terms of what it can offer the hungry traveller with everything from Belgian fries with mayonnaise to grilled sheep's cheese from Poland's Tatra mountains
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Street food is a simple concept - it is a quick meal prepared by local cooks who sell these dishes from street-side push carts, small shopfronts, and unpretentious cafés. Street food is also usually bursting with flavour and closely tied to the people who cook-up these tasty delights, as well as the regions they are served in.
Asia is arguably the world's hotspot for street food, and on April 26, Netflix released a documentary going by the very same name, which takes the viewer on a journey through the world of street cooking from India to South Korea and a number of other Asian countries in between.
Yet whilst dishes such as Pani Puri, and Salt Crusted Whole Fish are amongst some of the most internationally-recognised street food dishes, in Europe there is also a vibrant, albeit lesser-recognised street food scene.
Join this adventure of taste across Europe from Brussels to Vilnius as Smart Lemur explores the top five European street foods.
1. Frites - Belgium
Belgian fries are special - they are usually triple-fried, heavily salted, and fry stands can be found on many a street corner in any town or city across the country. There are a number of toppings to choose from, including Belgian mayonnaise, which - whilst not the most diet-conscious choice is the most authentic option. We suggest a crisp Belgian lager to go alongside them.
2. Kepta Duona - Lithuania
Kepta Duona is fried bread. However, Lithuanians have transformed it into fried bread on another level. Dark rye bread, which is much loved across this Baltic nation of around 3 million people, is deep fried, then smothered with generous handfuls of salt and fresh garlic. It can be eaten as it is, or the more health conscious diner can opt for to to be served with a cheese sauce. Generally too heavy to be eaten on its own, Kepta Duona is one of Lithuania's most popular snacks to go alongside an ice cold pint of lager, and can be found in most bars and pubs that serve traditional local food.
3. Currywurst - Germany
Currywurst is the quintessential German street food, and it can trace its roots back to post-World War 2 Berlin. It is a boiled then fried bratwurst sausage, which is cut into inch-thick pieces, then slathered in a delicately-spiced tomato ketchup and topped with curry powder. Side dishes often include a white bread roll, fries, or kebab meat. The currywurst is so much loved by Germans and visitors to Germany alike, that 800 million of the things are consumed across the country each year. Around 70m of those are consumed in the capital alone.
4. Pie and Mash - United Kingdom
The food that started the UK's now-vibrant street food scene is pie and eels, and it can trace its roots back to London's East End during the 19th century. Traditionally an industrial, working-class area, money was scarce for many Eastenders. The numerous pie and eel stands gave factory workers the chance to enjoy a quick, hearty meal consisting of a minced meat pie, stewed eels and mashed potatoes. These were then slathered in a vibrant green gravy, which is with parsley and the juice from the stewed eels. Pie and eel stands are a thing of the past now. However, a number of "Eel Pie Houses" still stand, and have withstood gentrification to maintain their late-Victorian or art-deco aesthetics.
5. Oscypek - Poland
One of the most widely-recognised foods from Poland is the pierogi dumpling. However, a little known gem from the world of Polish cuisine is Oscypek - a type of cheese originating from the country's mountainous Tatra region, which is made from salted sheep's milk. Hard in texture and unique in taste, Oscypek can be eaten as a grilled, smoked, or raw snack. Previously, Oscypek was difficult to found outside of the Tatras, but it is now readily available in many street food markets across Poland.
Without doubt, this is not a complete list of global street foods, and to get more of a feel from what you can find across Europe and Asia, check out Smart Lemur's list of Top 10 Street Foods to Try Around The World.