Ever explore a new place, throw pennies into the fountains, stroll through the streets, and then realize that it’s 2p.m. and you haven’t eaten anything since 7:30 that morning? In those moments of desperation, you couldn’t be more grateful for the couple of hot dogs (or tacos, if you’re from SoCal) carts that, although overpriced, kick your hunger to the curb. While there are a couple of great street carts in major cities in the U.S. if you look close enough, chances are slim that you’ll get an amazing meal similar to one you’d receive at a sit-down restaurant. Our friends across the globe, however, have taken street eats to a whole new level, combining speed with refinery, and creating both age-old and modern dishes for hundreds of hungry city-dwellers. From protein-packed artisanal sandwiches (croque-monsieur) to sweet cinnamon pastries (fika), here are 10 European street foods we should adopt in the states.
1). Patatje- Netherlands
Whether we’re starving or just in the mood for a snack, French fries have yet to disappoint. When we’re looking for something hot and salty, we head to our local McDonald’s and indulge, making sure that we’ve got plenty of ketchup to dip them in. Now, imagine the wonder of a street merchant that makes fresh fries in front of you — and then puts them in a pretty cone with generous toppings? That, friends, is an everyday possibility for those who live in the Netherlands. The Dutch enjoy their patat with mayonnaise and other such toppings (including ketchup, curry, and diced onions), and despite the likelihood of messiness, eat them with their fingers! Onions and mayo sound a little outlandish on fries? We bet once you get the chance to try Patatje, you won’t be disappointed.
2). Kanelbullar- Sweden
Let’s be real- most of our knowledge about Swedish culture comes from those IKEA trips to get dorm room furniture. We may have indulged in a cup of frozen yogurt or two there, but it’s only those who have traveled to the country who know that the Swedes actually have a term for taking time off to have coffee with friends: fika. And a popular treat to enjoy with said “coffee time with friends” are Kanelbullar, sweet, buttery cinnamon rolls with a hint of cardamom. These tasty treats are often sold on Stockholm streets and are perfect or snacking- they’re not weighed down by two pounds of frosting like our American cinnamon rolls (we’re not complaining, we’re just saying).
3). Zapiekanki- Poland
Kraków natives are lucky to have access to zapiekanki vendors within walking distance of their museums and parks. When you’re peckish and busy, nothing satisfies like a sizable open-faced sandwich with tons of toppings! Traditional zapiekanki are toasted with cheese and mushrooms, but the options are limitless — you can get yours with ham, chorizo, tomatoes, corn, etc. Plus, this dish is a perfect introduction into Slavic fare without being too outlandish for American palettes. Now, who wants to open up a zapiekanki stand for us here in the U.S.?
4). Gebrannte Mandeln- Germany
If you ever get the chance to visit Germany in the winter, there’s a high likelihood that you’ll find dozens of these Gebrannte Mandeln (candied almond) vendors on every corner. This snack is perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth because they’re so simple yet so tasty- just almonds, vanilla, sugar, and cinnamon. The ingredients are combined in air cookers- similar to popcorn makers you see at the movies- letting their irresistible aroma waft through the air and tempt your wallet. There may be a couple of candied almond stands in the U.S., but if they were half as common as Starbucks, we’d be munching on this treat nearly every day.
5). Croque Monsieur- France
While we’ve been seeing a rise in popular French delicacies in the U.S. (such as the iconic macaron), we’ve yet to experience once of their most popular street foods, the Croque Monsieur. Basically, this street food is a grilled ham and cheese sandwich, often dipped in egg before it’s cooked. It can also come with different fillings, like tomato and avocado. All in all, this sandwich is rich, buttery, and what our snacking dreams are made of. Next step? Bringing wine and cheese to work for lunch…
6). Ebelskivers- Denmark
Think the U.S. holds first place in the donut game? Think again. These round, fluffy donut-like little pancakes, called Ebelskivers, couldn’t be cuter (or yummier). Ebelskivers come with various fillings (including apple or Nutella) but traditionally are filled with jam. The real treat with these cakes is seeing them flipped and sprinkled with powdered sugar right in front of you- so an immersive Ebelskivers experience in the U.S. (we propose a shop with an open kitchen) wouldn’t be a bad business model.
7). Cevapi- Croatia
Croatia has a fascinating location because it’s definitely in Eastern Europe, but it also borders the sea like Italy or Spain. As a result, their cuisine contains elements of both land and sea, with delicious meats and seafood. Although it was hard to choose, we gravitated towards the Cevapi, or homemade kebabs made of ground pork, lamb, and beef. On the streets, Cevapi is often sold in a flatbread, with Ajvar (relish made from bell peppers, onion, and eggplant), making for a hearty sandwich that’ll give you the strength you need to keep on touring Dubrovnik. We’ve already embraced Greece’s beloved Gyro, so why not incorporate Croatian Cevapi into our street food options?
8). Pizza Bianca- Italy
There isn’t a single doubt that we Americans like our pizza — deep dish, New York Style, even covered in barbecue sauce! In Italy, they clearly share our affinity for the cheesy food — but one of the more popular options over there is to order a fresh slice of pizza Bianca, or white-top pizza. These pies are freshly roasted in wood ovens all across the country and sold to customers with nothing but a simple white sauce, olive oil, sea salt, and occasionally arugula. If you ever get a chance to try this one out- we recommend going full force on the arugula, as the peppery flavor complements the richness of the mozzarella beautifully. They’ve already got a white top option at Blaze Pizza. Who else is ready to jump on the bandwagon?
9). Roasted Chestnuts- Spain
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire… really is a thing in Spain. Spanish vendors roast dozens of these beautiful chestnuts in kilns and serve them to customers in paper cones. If you’ve never had a roasted chestnut, prepare yourself for some soft, rich, nutty goodness once you get a chance to get your hands on some (literally). In the chilly midwest, we’re positive this European delicacy would be super popular.
10). Fish & Chips- England
It’s true, there are lots of places to get fish & chips here in the states (shoutout to Bubba Gump Shrimp Co). But until you’ve experienced freshly fried cod and fries, piping hot and handed to you in a newspaper cone, have you really had the British delicacy? Maybe it’s a bit of a stretch to say we should “adopt” the famous English meal, as the variations that already exist could suffice. Just make sure to use lots of Heinz vinegar when you’re next at your local chippy and you’ll be right as rain.
Which European street foods do you want to try? Would you really go for mayonnaise on French fries? Tell us in the comments below!
Featured Image Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/Fuj145tMO84
Anna Livia is a Junior Communications student at John Paul The Great Catholic University. Her hobbies include reading how-to guides on being an adult, exploring the many pockets around North Country (San Diego) and attempting whatever new pasta recipes appear on Pinterest. She hails form Los Angeles but aspires to live in Houston one day for a career in Magazine Editing (not to mention the low housing prices). Her perfect afternoon would include cats of any kind, hot cider, and Malcolm In The Middle.