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Introduction To European Food Cultural Studies Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Cultural Studies
Wordcount: 3500 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Europe is not an unfamiliar name in an individual mindset. Many people aspire to go to Europe as it has a varied amount of distinctive features in terms of food and culture. Composing a major part of the world Europe is the second smallest continent having the third highest population and consists of fifty individual countries. The overlapping cultures of Europe are a distinctive feature perceived by the travellers.

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In terms of weather the Northern Europe has is covered with a blanket of cold and shorter winters and cooler summers than Southern Europe. However in the East and the West the winters are longer and colder and the summers are shorter and hotter. On the other hand Moscow which lies in the same latitude, it has an average January temperature if 14 degree F (-10 degrees). The central and Southern part of Europe has a warm and a moderate climate so the agricultural cultivation is possible.

A country or a region is otherwise also recognised by its cuisine and it plays an important role in standing up for the popularity of the same. The cuisine in Europe is primarily inhabited by the local available products and is also influenced by the cultural factors. Hence the importance of culture cannot be ignored.

European cuisine is also known as the western cuisine as it is represented by taking all the cuisines from Europe and western countries into consideration. The East Asians used European cuisine to differentiate between the European cuisine and Asian cuisine. It is also known as continental cuisine in some parts of the United Kingdom. On the other hand the westerners from North America, Australia and Latin America who travelled to the Europe increased the popularity of the cuisine globally and hence the dishes in Europe were categorised as European cuisine.

Northern cuisine included the Danish cuisine, Finnish cuisine, Estonian cuisine, Irish cuisine, Swedish cuisine, English cuisine, Scottish cuisine, Welsh cuisine and Anglo- Indian cuisine. On the other hand the South European cuisine consists of the Croatian cuisine, Spanish cuisine, Turkish cuisine, Italian cuisine and Portuguese cuisine. The Eastern European cuisine is majorly influenced by the climate and consists of the German cuisine, Polish cuisine, Russian cuisine, Romanian cuisine, Ukrainian cuisine and Hungarian cuisine. Last but not the least the Western cuisine includes Austrian cuisine, Belgian cuisine, French cuisine, German cuisine and Swiss cuisine.

“http://www.europeword.com/blog/europe/european-cuisine, Accessed on 10TH March 2010”

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“http://www.enchantedlearning.com/europe/italy/Italy_color.GIF,Accessed on 10TH March 2010”.


Italian cuisine has always considered one of the main influences of the new American cuisine developing in the United States, although it certainly is major influence, many people don’t realize that only a fraction of the true Italian cuisine has made its way across the ocean. Whenever you look in Italy a robust love of cooking and an appreciation for the finer things in cuisine is found in Italy. This approach to eating and cooking developed differently in every region of Italy, resulting in one of the most varied and complicated national cuisine in the world.

Italy is a dynamic country that has experienced many outside influences on its native culture and cuisine throughout history. Italy was once the home of the great Roman Empire which spread its influence across southern Europe northern Africa, and into Middle East, and the culture of these areas left their imprint on the Italian Cuisine as well.

The ancient Greeks were know for their appreciation of the arts and many culinary traditions developed by the Romans in present days Italy are credited to the influence of the Greeks in Romans life. During the Greek Empire (600 BC-200BC) the Greek settled many colonies for trading purposes many of which developed into some of today’s cities including Naples and Reggio. The Greek also settled Sicily and brought with them many ingredients that are now main elements of the Sicilian table, including grapes, olives, citrus and several preparations of the local seafood.

In AD 827, Moorish Arabs conquered Sicily and ruled the island for 200 years, along with the parts of southern Italy and Sardinia, and they brought with them an understanding of distillation example Marsala fortified wine and grappa and freezing techniques example gelato (frozen flavoured milk), sorbet (frozen flavoured juice), and granite (slushy flavoured ice).Some of the ingredients the Arabs brought with them were spinach, pine nuts, eggplants, coffee, bitter oranges, rice, sugar, almonds, Marzapan and spices and many of the ingredients became regular components of Sicilia as well as Italian cuisine.

The Arabs ruled Sicily and other parts of Italy and brought many of the sweet preparation that is found in Italian and in Sicilian Cuisine. The use of sugar in preparation of sweet dishes such as cannolis (fried pastry stuffed with sweetened cheese and other ingredients) and cassatas (rich cakes with dried fruit and marzipan topping) as well as numerous frozen desserts.

The inhabilants of western Europe (Scandinavia, England and a part of France0 invaded southern Italy in AD 1000 and fought for control of the land, during which time baccala (salt cod) was introduced to the Italians.

Spain fought with France for many years for influence in the Mediterranean and also rules Sicily from AD 1550 to AD 1714, during which time many of the new world ingredients were introduced to the peninsula including chiles, chocolate, tomatoes corn, potatoes and beans. Corn was quickly adopted in northern part of Italy but it took much longer for some of the ingredients from the Americans to obtain general acceptance in Italy.

The French have a long history of rule over areas of Italy, such as the former area of Savoy in the north western Italy or cross cultural influences. The marriage of Catherine de’ Medici to the eventual king of France is but one example of why culinary traditions and ideas flowed so freely between the two countries. Refined sauces. Roasted meats. Stewed meats and vegetables, pureed soups and the prevalence of cheese all reveal this connection.

The northern part of Italy that borders Austria was under Austrian control in 1713, and this period relate in similarity between northern Italy and Austria. Crauti, strudel. and goulash found in north of Italy.

MacVeigh, J. (2009) International Cuisine. New York: Delmar

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Modern Italian cuisine can be identified by its two branches the northern part region of Italy which include Val D’Aosta region which borders France and includes major cities Aosta and Turin. This region includes some culinary traditions that resemble French tradition and recipe. The region once was a part of a kingdom called Savoy. The common ingredients from this area are mushroom, chestnut, corn, young ox, pheasant. Some of the product that are produced in the Valley of Aosta include fontina, which may be found in local fonduta (melted cheese dip) as a means of using the scraps of left over cheese cutting. The cured meats and sausages from this region are also well known and include pancetta steccata, coppa al ginapro, and mocette. This region has produced a number of local specialities including zuppa di pane (bread soup), carbonade sauce with pancetta and egg), montebianco (sweetened chestnut puree) and polenta cunsa (polenta layered with cheese and mushroom).

Piemonte which is located in east of the Aosta Valley and is also situated within the Alps. This region includes cities like Turin and Asti and has culinary connection with France. The Piedmont area includes the foot hills of the Apls, which are rich in game and truffles, as well as the PO valley, where much of the quality rice is grown which is used to make risotto. Some of the ingredients found in this region are hazelnut, truffles, manzo, Arborio and carnaroli. Some of the recipes and products common to this region are tomini, bagna caoda, castelmango, bollito misto, salsa verde, risotto, grissini and zabaglione.

Lombardia region in Italy occupies the centre of the most northern section of Italy, with its northern neighbour of Switzerland bordering its northern reaches. This region is the birth place of well known recipes as risotto alla Milanese. Pannetone. Osso bucco and tortelli de zucca as well as the producer of bresaola, gorgonzola, bel paese, Asiago and mascarpone.Some of the ingredients used in this region are butter, asparagus, pork,oca,trout and squash.

Veneto region is the most eastern portion of the Po vally that stretches towards the Adriatic Sea.Veneto includes the ramous city of Venice, which was once the major port of Europe and controlled the trade of coffee, salt, spice and sugar. Some of the common ingredients of this region include granoturco, riso, radicchio, fagioli, asparagus, zucca, cavolo, patatas, pesce and burro. The region product and recipe include pasta and beans, rice and peas, carpaccio, polenta and tiramisu.

Friuli Venezia Guilia is the most eastern part of Italy and borders Austria to its north. Slovenia to its east and the Adriatic Sea to its south. It has been significantly influenced by its northern neighbours, including Austria Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia. This area include Trieste an important seaport to the region that dish. Has a long incorporation of ingredients from countries such as poppy seeds, paprika, caraway and horseradish. The most commonly used ingredients in this area are polenta.

Liguria region is bordered by Piedmont to the north and by Emilia- Romagna and Tuscany to the east and includes the major city of Genoa. Some of the common ingredients used in this area are sultanas, rabbit, basil, pine nuts, walnuts, olive and fish. Some of the common dishes are pesto alla Genovese, vincigrassi, salsa di noci, trenette, gnocchi, buridda(fish soup), torta pasqualina, ravioli and focaccia.

The western and the northern portion of Emilla Romagna includes the southern part of the Po valley while the southern portion dominated by the Apennines Mountain that run run through the heart of Italy. Some of the major cities include Parma, Bolongna, Reggio, Modena, and Piacenza and each contributes to the richness of the cuisine of the region. The ingredients commonly used in this region are mela, maiale, milk, sole, eel, tomato, grapes, oregano, and other aromatic herbs. Some the common recipes are brodetto, anolini, tortellini, tagliatelle and lasagne.

The piquancy of southern cooking comes from herbs and spices. Especially garlic and chilli peppers. Italy first pasta was produced in the south though noodles were preceded by flatbread called focacce. Arab established a pasta industry in the Sicily using durum wheat for dried pasta. Short type of pasta is referred as maccheroni and long type of pasta is referred as spaghetti and vermicelli. Spiral shape fusilli, oblique tubes called penne, and larger tubes called ziti and zite are also popular. Fresh pasta is also prized, sometimes but not usually made with eggs, in such familiar dishes are lasagne, fettuccine and ravioli.

MacVeigh, J. (2009) International Cuisine. New York: Delmar

Equipment used in Italian Cuisine

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Pasta Machine:

A stainless steel, hand- cranked pasta machine helps cooks churn out homemade pastas. These are clamped to the edge of a table or counter, and a variety of sizes and shapes of pasta are rolled out through various attachments.



A mezzaluna is a half-moon-shaped knife with handles at the ends of the blade; Cooks roll the blade from side of side to chop herbs and vegetables. Be careful using a mezzaluna as the blade is extremely sharp.


Pasta Pot:

A five – quart pot is a good size for cooking for two. Purchase one with an inner draining basket that has handles. Once the water has come to a boil and pasta is cooked, raise the basket up by its handles to drain.



A basic, four-sided grater will work just fine for most needs. Another option is a rotary cheese grater, which has a container to catch the cheese. The grater may have different-size apertures as well.



A nifty tool is a ravioli cutter, which is handy for cutting ravioli or pizza.

“http://www.ehow.com/facts_5317888_italian-cooking-equipment.html Accessed on 13th January 2010”


“http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/europe/spain_mineral_1974.jpg, Accessed on 10tth March 20102.


Like many other Mediterranean countries Spain’s culinary heritage can be traced back to the Roman times and much later to the Middle East and the Moors. The Spanish were justifiably proud of themselves when in 1492 the Moorish strong hold at Grenada was conquered, which was to be the beginning of a period of trade and a colonial power. At its zenith the Spanish realms took in all of Spain, Portugal, Hollad, parts of Italy and the North and Central America, most of the Caribbean island and all the South America continent. It is understandable that Spain has absorbed a whole range of cookery styles to produce its own distinctive style.

The fertile country attracts millions of visitors each year and supplies many of its European neighbours with high quality fruit and vegetables of all kind and in all season. It has European largest fishing fleet and produces many very fine wines.

Many of its popular dishes are mixture of fish, selfish, meat, poultry and game with an assortment of vegetables and cereals.

The language of Spain reflects the inherent diversity. Even though Spanish is the official language, other languages in Spain are highly dominant in parts of the country and have been officially recognized.

The Spanish culture would not be complete without mentioning two of the most popular customs of Spain: flamenco and bullfighting. These customs are synonymous an important part of any fiesta or carnival in Spain.

Finch, C.F. and Cracknell, H.L. (1997) International Gastronomy. England: Addison Wesley Longman Limited.

Spain Cuisine

The cuisine of Spain is simple hearty and flavourful. In the Iberian Peninsula, there is no haute or classic cuisine that divides the social strata. Dishes are the same on the dinner tables of rich and poor alike.

Spanish cooking with its diverse influence is Europe melting pot. Ex the use of fins and seafood as staple ingredients, and the preservation of fish as a cooking technique came from the Phoenicians. The use of olive oil and grape wine was introduced by the Greeks. Garlic arrived via the Romans while spices such as cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, pepper and cumin were brought by the Arabs. Gaspacho, a popular tomato based soup served cold, also came from the Arab cusine.

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Cocido Middleno, the national dish illustrates the abundance and vigor of Spanish cooking. Cocido is a slow cooked hearty stew that blends textures and flavours of chicken, beef, pork, chorizo sausages, veal and a staple ingredient of garbanzos {chick peas}. Cabbage, potatoes carrots onions and noodles are also added. The stew is served with a variety of sauces and always with fresh, crusty bread.

The northern region of Spain includes the Atlantic coast of Spain above Portugal and the north central Basque region bordering the Atlantic and the southern western corner of France. The climate of this region is wetter than much of the rest of the country. Some of the products and recipes of this region are idiazabal (semisoft sheep milk), empnadas (savory filled pies), bacaloa a la viscaina (salt cod with chillies), pil-pil (sauce made from cod, garlic and olive oil) and caldo gallego (broth with ham, beans and sausage).

Catalonia and Aragon lies to the north of France and Mediterranean lies towards the east. The climate of Catalonia has a mild climate and is surrounded by a harsher terrain and climate. This region is more complex in its varied ingredients. Where as the climate of Aragon region is much harsher then Catalonia region. Some of the common ingredients used in this region are tomatoes, spring onion, chiles, asparagus, and wild mushroom. The common recipes used in this region are pa ambtomaquet (grilled bread rubbed with ripe tomatoes), calcotada (spring onion grilled and served with rosesco sauce), and crema catalane custard with caramelized sugar on top), Camerano (fresh goat milk cheese) and samfaina (summer vegetable sauce or stew).

The Balearic Island lies to the eastern coast of Spain in the Mediterranean Sea and relies heavily on the sea. The specialities of this region are pa pages (compressed fig, anise and bread cake), burrida (fish soup eith almond) and caldereta de langosta (lobster stew).

Tapas served in appetizer sized portions, are uniquely Spanish and one of the most delighted aspects of Spanish cuisine. They range from very simple fare such as cured ham and simple canapés, to sophisticated dishes that use fresh snails, caviar, frog legs and quail.

Also famous is paella a colourful rice dish with seafood or meats and various vegetables and saffron.Paella was invented in 200 years ago. It is a summer dish, intendedfor picnics, and generally cooked by men in a flat pan set over a charcoal.

Desserts include flan a variety of caramel custards and the Andalusian Yemas a confection of Moorish origin that uses egg yolks and sugar.

In addition to sherry and fine wines, Spaniards frequently serve sangria a cocktail of red wine brandy fresh fruit and soda water.

MacVeigh, J. (2009) International Cuisine. New York: Delmar

Equipment Used in the Spanish Kitchen


The ‘Paellero’ or Paella Pan is a hugely important piece of Spanish kitchen equipment which is used to make paella. It is a large round shallow pan that has been used from generation to prepare the world famous Spanish Dish.


The earthenware dish or ‘Cazuelas’ makes a regular appearance in the Spanish kitchen. They are available in very small cookware which is used to serve tapas. The Spanish kitchen will be in completed with this cookware because they retain the heat after cooking it is perfect for Gambas al pil-pil a classic spicy dish of chill and garlic prawns.


The Ham carving knife is used to carve Serrano ham into wafer thin slices.


Capaplanas traditional domed clam cooker from the Algarve region in southern region of Portugal.


Casserole dish, Jamonero or ham stand are some of the other equipment used.

“http://www.hub-uk.com/interesting02/spanish-kitchen.htm, Accessed on 8th January 2010”

Traditional Food Preparation Method used.

In Spain meat, fish and poultry or game is prepared using a variety of methods. The Most common terms used in the Spanish kitchen are:

Cocido- stews or stewed. Other term used for the same method is Guisado and Estofado.

A la parilla or a la bras – charcoal grille. La parilla is a BBQ grate and la brase is a live or hot coal.

A la plancha- grilled on a metal plate.

Al pil-pil sauce which is originated in the Basque country is made of oil in which the fish has been cooked.

“http://spanishfood.about.com/od/cookingtipsandbasics/a/cookmethodsmeat.htm, Accessed on 8th January 2010”


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