European Travel Skills: Eating and Drinking

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One of the great joys of travel is eating.

Each country in Europe has its own distinct cuisine.

Leave the tourist zones.

Find places filled with locals enjoyingseasonal and regional specialties.

The variety of food is endless and, ifyou know how to choose a good place, you don't need to spend a fortune.

A few basic rules for eating yourway through Europe: Go for the local specialities.

You'll getbetter quality and price.

Eat seasonally.

Don't miss truffles on your pasta in the fall or fresh berries in Norway in summer.

The location can make the meal.

Bosnia may not be famous for its food but dining under the bridge in Mostarmakes a life-long memory.

Most of all, eat fearlessly.

Try things you've never had in places you've never been.

There are eateries to fit every budget.

And while I recommend an occasionalgourmet splurge, especially in countries famous for their high-end cuisine likeFrance and Italy, you'll save money and improve yourexperience with Europe's countless budget options.

Some of the most affordable andenjoyable food in Europe can be found not while seated at a table but while standing in the street or the market.

Every country has its own beloved street food.

It's fast, cheap and delicious.

In Greece, try the corner souvlaki stand.

And in Istanbul on the Golden Horn, grab a fish sandwich fresh from the guyswho caught it at one of the venerable and very tipsy fish boats.

For a step up and a seat, there are lotsof casual bars and bistros—hometown hangouts where you can enjoy local cuisine incomfort without going broke.

One of the best examples of this is in Spain.

Every town tempts you with tapas bars.

where you belly up to the bar and just point atthings you'd like to try.

In Denmark, I love the open face sandwiches which manage to be both simple and elegant at the same time.

You can munch the best pizza ever for the price of a fast-food hamburger in Naples,where pizza was invented.

The rustic simplicity of sausages and fondue feels just perfect high in the Swiss Alps.

And these days, pubs are more than justfriends gathered for a beer.

They can come with tasty meals, too.

By the way, interiors in Europe, from restaurantsto hotels to pubs, are now essentially smoke-free.

Especially in France, consider thecuisine sightseeing for your palate.

And, when you know your budget options, eatingat the corner cafe or bistro costs only a little more than lunch at a fast food joint.

Most countries have a plate of the day;that's a "plats du jour" here.

A handwritten menu in the local language onlywith a small selection indicates a good value.

And the house salad makes a quick andhealthy meal.

In France, bread is free.

Just hold up your basket to ask.

In France, a free carafe of tap water iseither on the table or will be quickly if you ask.

When it comes to drinking, I go local.

In Bavaria its a liter of lager.

Tuscany: a robust red wine.

Provence: a nice rosé.

Ireland: a hearty guinness.

Spain: a rich rioja.

In Denmark: a fiery aquavit.

And in Greece, it's ouzo, with a sunset.

Adapt to the culture you're visiting.

Over here, dining's not rushed.

Slow serviceis often good service.

In a nice restaurant, the table's yoursfor the entire evening.

To get the bill you need to ask for it.

As service is often included and waitersare generally paid a living wage, tipping is less expected and often unnecessary.

This varies from country to country; get advice from locals.

Picnics are fast and fun and give you apurpose in Europe's colorful markets and shops.

When picnicking, you can buy whatever looks goodregardless of price.

Choose an atmospheric place to makeyour picnic memorable.

We've put together a cheap and healthy mealfor two.

Delightful cheese, tiny quiche,strawberries, grapes, wine, a little something for dessert, and a reasonable view.

Traditionally, on the continent, breakfastis small.

In France, locals just grab a croissantand coffee on the way to work.

But these days, most hotels are offering hearty breakfastbuffets, complete with cheese, meat, yogurt and fruit.

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