select - National Dishes

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With the 16 nations of Euro 2012 vying to be European soccer champions this month – the final is on July 1 – we cast a hungry eye at the national dishes of some of the participating teams.



The milky rounds of cheese known as sir are found on every table at breakfast time in Croatia, and best enjoyed straight from the farmer’s stall. Sir is a sheep’s cheese similar to manchego or pecorino. Its most famous variety, paski sir, comes from the island of Pag and derives its flavour from the wild sage eaten by Pag sheep. So high do feelings run about sir, that pro-EU Croatians are now having second thoughts about joining the European Union thanks to regulations concerning their favourite food. Other national dish claimants: brudet (shellfish stew), burek (sausage- or cheese-stuffed pastry) and palacinka pancakes.

You’ll find sir at any number of early-morning markets.

Cheese has been produced since Roman times and is a breakfast staple.

Qatar Airways has daily flights from Doha to Zagreb via Budapest.



The ubiquitous Danish open-face sandwich (smørrebrød) is something of a national obsession. The base of buttered rye bread is topped with various combinations of cold cuts of fish or meat, cheese or salads, arranged in an artistic fashion to be appealing to the eye. Among the favourites are liver paste with cucumber and onion, shrimps with parsley and mayonnaise (and sometimes egg), and chicken salad. Fish such as marinated herring and cod roe are other common toppings. Other national dish claimants: frikadeller (meatballs with red cabbage), herring, and Danish pastries (though these actually originated in Vienna).

Most cafés and street stands in the capital sell smørrebrød.

The open sandwiches come in such variety that there’s something for every taste.

Qatar Airways has daily flights from Doha to Copenhagen.



Roast beef could hardly be more English, especially when it comes accompanied by Yorkshire pudding, roasted potatoes, vegetables (traditionally turnips, parsnips, carrots, and peas), and horseradish sauce or hot English mustard. Some London restaurants boast they’ve been serving it since the 18th century, when it was first described and much enjoyed by Georgian society. “The feeling of friendship is like that of being comfortably filled with roast beef,” said noted writer Samuel Johnson. Leftovers from the meal often end up in roast beef sandwiches the next day. Other national dish claimants: fish and chips, meat pies, and puddings and crumbles.

Many pubs all over the country dish up the Sunday favourite.

Nothing says England more than this traditional family Sunday lunch.

Qatar Airways has five flights daily from Doha to London Heathrow and flights to Manchester 10 times a week.



Like many national dishes, pot-au-feu (or pot in the fire) originated as peasants’ fare. It started life as a stew kept the entire winter and topped up with meat, root vegetables, and spices. These days, it usually contains slow-cooked beef, oxtail or marrowbone, smoked sausage, and root vegetables. It’s traditional to filter off the broth and serve it first as a soup with a sprinkling of croutons and cheese, before the main comes on a platter. Pickled vegetables and Dijon mustard are served on the side. Other national dish claimants: cassoulet (meat and bean casserole), baguettes, and tarte tatin (caramelised apple pie).


Pot-au-feuis celebrated as the quintessential French family food.

Qatar Airways has 16 flights weekly from Doha to Paris, and three flights weekly to Nice via Milan.



Sauerbraten(literally, pickled or sour roast) is traditionally made with a beef roasting joint first marinated over a number of days in vinegar, onion, peppercorns, cloves, juniper berries, and other spices. It is then slowly braised to create very tender meat. It varies from region to region in its marinades and gravies, and sometimes venison is substituted for beef. The most famous sauerbraten comes from the Rhineland and has a sweetish marinade made with gingerbread and raisins. Sauerbraten is eaten with potato dumplings and red cabbage, and sometimes with noodles. Other national dish claimants: sausage with curry sauce, and sauerkraut (pickled cabbage).

Restaurants across the country.

A 1,200-year-old favourite – some say Charlemagne invented it.

Qatar Airways flies daily from Doha to Berlin, to Frankfurt twice a day, 11 times weekly to Munich, and three times weekly to Stuttgart via Zurich.



Though it isn’t that familiar to foreigners, to most Greeks their national food would undoubtedly be fasolada, a white bean and tomato soup containing carrot, celery, and olive oil, often accompanied by bread and salty side dishes such as olives. It has varieties across the eastern Mediterranean and is called fasoulia in Arabic, but in Greece it never contains meat. Easy to prepare and highly nutritious, it gets a regular outing on kitchen tables around the country and has its origins in farmer’s fare. Other national dish claimants: souvlaki (skewered meat), moussaka (aubergine and minced meat dish), and baklava (honey and nut pastry).

Traditional tavernas in the Plaka district and throughout the country.

Full of protein and fibre, this vegetarian dish is the ultimate in healthy eating.

Qatar Airways has flights twice a day from Doha to Athens.



Pasta only became the iconic food of Italians in the late 19th century, but they’ve been inventing pasta varieties ever since. Try stracciatella, a light soup containing tiny orzi pasta, vegetables, and miniature turkey dumplings. The famous Sicilian pasta con le sarde contains pine nuts, fennel, raisins, and fresh silver sardine fillets, piled on spaghetti glistening with tomato sauce. In Naples, the favourite is paccheri all'impiedi, featuring tube-shaped pasta soaked in a rich meat and ricotta sauce. The ultimate indulgence? Maybe lobster tortellini, topped with hot pepper, cherry tomatoes, and tuna roe. Other national dish claimants: pizza, polenta, and gelato.

Everywhere – humble country eateries to posh city restaurants.

No need to ask; is there anyone who doesn’t enjoy pasta?

Qatar Airways has flights from Doha twice a day to Rome and Milan, and daily flights to Venice.



Nothing is more Russian than borscht, the classic beetroot soup with its meat or chicken broth, eaten either hot or cold and often with added dill and sour cream. There are many regional recipes of the classic farmer’s dish that may also use mushrooms, peppers, potatoes, leeks, or horseradish. In St Petersburg, it often contains fish. “It should be served with sour cream, of course, and a sprinkling of fresh parsley and dill,” wrote Anton Chekhov. Either way, traditionalists say it should be served so thick it is virtually a stew. Other national dish claimants: blini (pancakes) and pelmeni (dumplings).

Found at local neighbourhood cafés and fine-dining establishments alike.

Soup is a national obsession in Russia, and borscht is arguably the best.

Qatar Airways has ten flights a week from Doha to Moscow.



When it comes to national dishes, perhaps none is more versatile than the tortilla, which can be eaten for breakfast, accompanied with a salad for dinner, or enjoyed as a tapas snack. Spanish tortilla are a type of thick omelette studded with potatoes, usually eaten cold. They might not be quite as vegetarian as they look; many contain a dash of chicken stock. Food critic Anya von Bremzen thinks tortillas should be featured on the Spanish flag. Certainly, the Spanish consume more eggs per capita than any other nationality. Other national dish claimants: paella (seafood with saffron rice) and tapas (small bar nibbles).

Breakfast cafés, sandwich stands, or late-night tapas bars: tortillas are everywhere.

Versatile, cheap, and filling, tortilla is the ultimate convenience.

Qatar Airways has daily flights from Doha to Barcelona and daily flights to Madrid.



Meatballs (köttbullar) have been on the Swedish table since at least 1754, when they got their first mention in a cookbook. Usually made from ground beef (but sometimes from pork or veal) mixed with breadcrumbs, milk, and onions, meatballs are seasoned with pepper and allspice or nutmeg and traditionally served with a dollop of lingonberry jam and sour cream. Meatballs tend to get leaner the further north you travel and are smaller than variations from other countries. Potatoes or egg noodles, pickled cucumber, and gravy are traditional accompaniments. Other national dish claimants: open sandwiches, surströmming (sour herring), and crayfish.

On the menu of traditional restaurants and often found on smorgasbords.

Smaller and somewhat sweeter than Italian meatballs, and many claim better.

Qatar Airways has daily flights from Doha to Stockholm.

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