Scrummy Summer

It’s hard to remember in the last hectic few weeks of term that summer holidays are just around the corner

If you are planning to work 9 to 5 to pay off that ever increasing overdraft it’s likely all the holiday you’ll have time for will be contained in these British Isles, so try out the paella recipe to get in the holiday mood. If you are more lucky and have three months worth of jet-setting planned you’ll be able to encounter all the strange gastronomic wonders that the world has to offer. That’s why Frances Halliday is here to offer some advice.

Greece – The national dish of Greece is proudly declared as Moussaka, a baked delicacy prepared with sliced eggplant, lean ground beef, onions, tomatoes, butter, eggs, milk, cheese and seasonings. There are many other greek dishes that have found their way into our mainstream diet, but whilst you are island hopping you should venture into the more unusual cuisine, such as the heavily honey-laden pastry deserts. The meat-fuelled picture painted by My Big Fat Greek Wedding is rather true to life, with lamb, chicken with oregano and beef to be foud in most dishes in various incarnations.

Italy- There seems to great debate about the national dish of this gastronomic heaven, though the frequent theme is pasta. If you are heading to the boot-like peninsula this summer be sure to taste pasta in its purest form, it will be an out of body experience for a generation nummed by stir-in sauces and microwave meals. A few tips for survival though; Ragu is the general name for any tomato pasta sauce not just the stuff you buy in a jar from Costcutter. If you want to find local specialties look for a trattoria or osteria, ase these are less formal than a ristorante and more likely to be frequented by locals who know their stuff.

France – There is no national dish, each region has its specifications and its gastronomic specialities. In the Grenoble region, one of the most important specialities is the "gratin dauphinois" a scrummy potato dish, served with most any kind of meat or on its own. In the Alps Savoie region the "fondue" (melted cheese) reigns supreme, with its meat and oil cousin is an exciting hands-on approach to dining. As you get nearer the sea seafood becomes the dish of the day. In the Normandie region, it's the "moules" (mussels). In Bourgogne you will encounter the legendary French cuisine of snails and frogs. The snails can be found in abundance by the roadside, clinging to a particular yellow-flowered plant though I suggest you refrain from collecting and cooking your own, as they can be slimy and tough unless treated with experienced hands.

If you are venturing of the beaten European track you may be interested to know that the Costa Rican national dish is gallo pinto, which means "spotted rooster." The dish is indeed spotted; it is a combination of fried rice and black beans, lightly spiced, that might be served with sour cream and fried or scrambled eggs at breakfast time.

The national dish of Brazil is black beans served with a variety of meats and rice, called Feijoada whilst it is claimed by some that Mexico’s is Mole Poblano, turkey with chocolate chilli sauce. Strange, I would have said it was tacos!

Russia claims Borsch as the dish of the nation. Though it has undergone many changes and regional variations, borscht is generally agreed to be a beetroot soup made with meat stock, cabbage, and frequently potatoes and other root vegetables.

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