Do’s & Don’ts of Europe: Food!

Happy Wednesday!  I’m in the midst of packing up everything I own to move down to Florida this weekend, but thought I’d take a break to reminisce about my recent trip to Europe.  Today, it’s all about the food we ate (and didn’t eat).  If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram (@lbbakes) you’ve probably seen a bunch of these pictures already, but I put together a list of do’s and dont’s  for dining in Europe.  Of course, these are based on my own personal experiences.  Enjoy bon appetit!

Do eat croissants (and/or similar pastries) for breakfast every day in Paris.  They’re the best I’ve ever had, and I bet you’d be hard pressed to find one even half as good in the US.

Don’t dine at Hard Rock Cafe for your one night in Florence — even if you’re fatigued and homesick.  Not that I would know… 😉

Do attempt to read the menus in-language before asking for an English menu or help from the waitstaff.  E for Effort!

Don’t order an Americano with your breakfast (which is Europe’s version of traditional American coffee).  Instead, go for something the locals drink — cafe, cappuccino, etc.  When in Rome!

Do take advantage of your hotel breakfast, if it’s offered.  We often fueled up enough to just snack through lunch, which was helpful since we were constantly on the move.

Don’t try to adjust your dish (you know, “can I have the _____ but without the ____, ____, ___).  First reason: things can get complicated quickly when you don’t speak the native language.  Second reason: you might discover something you didn’t think you liked — in my case, black olives!

Do drink wine with dinner.  Quite often, it’s cheaper than water or soda, so really you’re just doing the financially responsible thing. 🙂

Don’t question the butter that’s spread like mayonnaise on your ham and gruyere sandwich.  You’ll walk it off!

Do periodically grab a baguette in France for a snack.  You’ll quickly learn it’s what all the cool kids locals do!

Don’t try to pay for your food with slightly damp euros.  They might think you’re trying to get away with counterfeit money… even if your money really is legit, and you were just swimming in the ocean with it.

Do eat gelato at least three times.  It’s the creamiest, richest you’ll ever eat.  I only enjoyed it twice, and I’m wishing I’d had that third cone. 🙂

Don’t try to hunt down Chobani, or a similar alternative.  You know it’s not there, so stop looking (I’m mostly talking to myself on this one).

Do seek out Indian food in London.  I’m regretting that I didn’t do this, but it’s everywhere, and I’ve heard it’s top notch.

Don’t try to hunt down peanut butter while you’re in Europe — I didn’t see it anywhere except London.

Do embrace Nutella instead.  And speculoos.  And butter and jam!

Don’t settle for fish ‘n chips from a random pub in London.  Instead, seek out some of the best — I highly recommend Geales in Notting Hill!

Do stock up on European candy before you return to America.  Cadbury, Kinder, and Haribo became my best friends while road tripping across Europe.

Don’t worry if you’re not eating as many fruits and vegetables.  You’ll catch up when you get home.  Apples taste the same in the US as they do in Europe, but croissants don’t (but when you do eat them, they’ll be fresh and delicious!).

If you’ve traveled to Europe before, feel free to leave your own do’s and don’ts in the comments!

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27 thoughts on “Do’s & Don’ts of Europe: Food!”

  1. YES Cadbury and Kinder!!

    I’d add, eating in cafes and restaurants off the beaten path can yield some of the best meals you’ll ever have. So many of the authentic-looking ones on the main strip are way touristy and just not as good!

    1. Kinder makes these hazelnut cream filled bars that I became addicted to! And now I’m sad that I didn’t bring back a huge box, but I was afraid they’d melt!

  2. Do….eat as much pork in Spain as humanely possible if your diet allows…and every part of it that is available. This also goes for anything that just came out of the water.

    Do…talk to locals as much as possible. Some of the best meals (and lodging) I had in Madrid and Toledo resulted in striking up conversations. It could also lead to an all day tapas affair on any given Sunday.

    Don’t…follow guide books and “top 100” lists. Make your own road and have a general idea of what you want to see and do, but be flexible and let the road have its way with you now and then.

    1. I agree with talking to locals! I was frustrated that I couldn’t speak French, so it really limited what we could say to people in France. But when I found people that spoke English I took complete advantage!

  3. Great tips! And you really do walk off all you eat. I went to Poland a few summers ago and loved spending time in the town center and the local coffee shop. There was also a nice grocery store/bakery where I was able to get fresh pastries and delicious berries. Gelato is a must. As often as you can 🙂

    1. Everyone is so much more active in Europe, it’s great! I always wondered how the French can afford to eat croissants and such every day, but when you’re so much more active, it’s really not an issue! I would love to visit Poland someday, I’ve heard great things!

  4. Oh my gosh, I love this post! It brought back so many memories of living in Spain. Definitely agree with your gelato DO. Gelato every day makes up for the missing vegetables, right?

    Another DO – try to shop in the street markets like the locals. You never know what new food you may find, what fruit may get to sample for free, or what animal heads may pop up at you. It’s always an adventure.

    Do… take a morning stop at a cafe near the Louvre to enjoy a cup of coffee. How European.

    Don’t… worry about sanitation when ordering a kebab made from the meat that spins by an open window all. day. long. Your stomach is tougher than you think it is and can manage those microbes. Enjoy that kebab!

    1. I wish I had visited Spain! Where in Spain did you live? It’s definitely on my list of places to visit someday.

      I like your tip of shopping street markets — I went to the market in Cannes, and it was filled with local farmers and they were all sharing samples of their produce, olive oils, etc.!

      Ha, totally true with the sanitation comment. We can withstand a lot, and it’s worth it. 🙂

    1. Yes, you should visit someday! It was exhausting by the end but worth it to see everything we saw (and eat everything we ate!)

  5. I”m seconding the eating gelato three times per day…or more. Or every time you walk past a gelateria. Seriously, so good. I miss it most about Italy.

    And Indian food in England is delicious.

    Drink a Shandy at an English pub…it’s a lager with lemonade, I believe.

    Get a Kebab from a sketchy place. I think we ate these four times per week when I was in Germany.

    PASTRIES. Definitely. And panini in Italy.

    1. I think the “get gelato every time you pass a gelateria” rule should be mandatory for tourists. I’m implementing it next time I visit Europe, for sure!

  6. Great tips and photos! I always tell people never to eat within a block of a major attraction – the restaurants are always for tourists! And never eat at a foreign restaurant that has an English menu if you can help it 🙂

  7. What a fun post!!! I love all of the pictures. I definitely lived on ice cream when I was in London (mostly because we didn’t have any money and wanted to spend it on clothes at Top Shop and plays). We also had some fantastic fish and chips and I DO recommend trying a Snake Bit (strong bow and guiness mixed). I also stocked up on candy to bring home for everyone. It made such a unique gift : )

    1. Haha, there’s nothing wrong with living on ice cream to save money for shopping! I should have probably done the same. 🙂

  8. Aww, I didn’t realize that you’re leaving for Florida so soon after you got back; I was hoping we could meet up first. You’ll have to let me know when you’re back up to visit so we can coordinate something!!

    And, I just loved following along on your trip to Europe! It’s one of my goals in life to get over there for a good month and eat all the baguettes and pastries I can. 😉

    1. Yeah, the past few weeks have sort of been nonstop travel for me! We’ll definitely have to get together when I’m home at Thanksgiving or Christmas.

      You HAVE to get to Europe, I’m figuring out how I can get back soon, it’s so great — the food, the people, the culture, etc.

    1. …and now I’m missing the croissants too! They’re not nearly the same here. Baguettes can come close to comparing, if you go to a good bakery, but the croissants are just unparalleled. 🙂

  9. When in Ireland, don’t wait until 7pm to eat dinner. Whatever few restaurants there are in town will be closed, and most pubs don’t serve food! (Unless of course you are looking to save money by getting buzzed on 2 beers/1 Guinness!)
    And there was just something about the fries in Ireland. They were delicious and I have never seen them duplicated anywhere else!

  10. I actually did find peanut butter while studying abroad in Spain! I think my supermarket was one of the only ones around that had in, so I definitely lucked out. And yup, I definitely tried finding Chobani, but that was a lost cause. They did sell “greek yogurt”, but it wasn’t nearly as thick as Chobani. Womp womp…

  11. Do eat the roadside paninis near the Eiffel Tower and in Nice, France. I had the most delicious paninis from the little carts. My favorite was hard boiled egg, chicken, mayo, spinach and tomato with mozzarella.

    1. Oh, this makes me want to go back to France just for a panini! (OK, and maybe a few baguettes and croissants too…) The panini you described sounds delicious!

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