Friday, October 18, 2019

Eating Europe: Munch your way through history with fun food, guides

Trained historians and knowledgeable graduate students and professionals lead interested tourists to a series of both well
   known and undiscovered food and beverage haunts in "Eating Europe," located in a growing number of European cities. Here Alexander Nallin shares facts, fun and fanciful stories with a group of international foodies and tourists in London.  

Photographer Bruce Keller, left, and Cookie (Christene
Meyers) sample fish and chips at Poppies, a legendary
London eatery where Poppie himself sometimes appears. 

FOOD, FUN, HISTORY ON THE ROAD THROUGH GREAT CITIES IN  'EATING EUROPE' AND DELIGHTFUL TOURS


STORY By CHRISTENE MEYERS
PHOTOS By BRUCE KELLER

COMBINE TWO favorite past times: sampling food and soaking up history in a new city.
Delicious cheeses from various European countries were offered at one stop.

What do you call it?  "Eating Europe."
The delightful brainchild was designed to bring great cities to life through a combined experience of cultural immersion and culinary sampling, two mainstays in a visit anywhere.
Guides are carefully chosen to have an interest in both the city's history and the foods served in all types of pubs, eateries, shops, bistros, cafes and more. The food stops are thoughtfully chosen to illustrate variety in each city.
OUR GUIDE, Alexander, brought London's east end to life, regaling us with anecdotes and insights into kings, queens, scoundrels, lords, ladies and ladies of the evening.
We began our combined gastronomic-history adventure near one of London's oldest and best known pubs, "Ten Bells."  There, in 1881, Jack the Ripper hung out and lured his victims, all prostitutes, to their grim deaths.
The tour was capped with a tasty
wedge of rich chocolate pie
served with cream and tea. 
London's restaurants, pubs and cafes serve up a medley,
here a sandwich from Beigel Bake, a legendary restaurant is
typical of Eating Europe's varied haunts: quality, history, fun.
Our seven tasty and filling treat stops offered a pleasant mix, from a melt-in-the-mouth bacon sandwich, to a satisfying warm bread and butter pudding, nicely varied cheese plate, delicious fish and chips, a spicy curry trio, bagel with tender brisket and a wedge of sinfully delicious chocolate pie served with clotted cream and steaming Earl Grey tea.


Eating Europe guide Alexander takes ten foodies and culture
 buffs through London's engaging and varied east end. The
tour included schools, churches, businesses, charities and
of course the food stops. Alex's stories enhanced the dining.

OUR DINING companions were an interesting, international mix of professionals, students, retired folks, and a pair of honeymooners, celebrating their recent wedding in Ireland.
We agreed that all the samplings were delightful
and the itinerary well conceived. The order of the dishes fell comfortably into Alexander's lively comments.  His scope ranged from the city's Roman days, when the first villas were constructed, to Henry VIII stories -- he built a military camp here -- to modern times and the neighborhoods' gentrification.
Fabulous lamb curry was served along with a vegetarian 
offering and chicken dish at one of Eating Europe's nine 
East London food stops on colorful Brick Lane.
 .
Through Alexander, east London came to life -- it's his stomping ground -- and his free-wheeling commentary about theater, soup kitchens, churches, schools and neighborhoods was engaging. His territory is indeed rich with history.
SINCE 2013, more than 25,000 guests have sampled  Londo's Eating Europe tour. The fun walking-eating tours have been sampled by more than 150,000 people in the program's other cities. (Amsterdam's is on a canal boat!! Next for us.)
We couldn't see everything in this huge London region known for its ethnic variety and tapestry of cultures. But we got a time-travel sampling, admiring trendy new neighborhoods, lively street art, brick offices, churches and an occasional mansion built in the silk trade's glory days.
BETWEEN BITES, and cuisine-based conversation over four hours, we enjoyed historic architecture, artful graffiti and Alexander's well told tales. Brisk walking between samples helped us feel less like gourmands and more like gourmets as we visited 
The murals off Brick Lane are part of the tour's fun.
markets, shops, bakeries, pubs and restaurants, usually meeting  the owners or managers, which added to the experience.
We were happy to find the streets uncrowded as we explored hidden alleys, listening to the history of each eatery. One legendary restaurant is famous for its bone marrow, tripe and "nose to tail" eating. We learned that our beloved "bagel" is really spelled "beigel" as Beigel Bake illustrated. Fabulous.
The immersive Eating Europe concept was developed to combine fun dining with a city's traditions and culture. As promised, this was delivered with flair, obvious through Alexander's passion for the city in which he lives. He shared history, architecture, ethnicity
The beauty, art and variety of European bars and eateries
makes the immersive Eating Europe tours a hit.
in a nuanced educated but not preachy fashion.
The food-walking combo makes an enjoyable way to experience a new neighborhood.
Eating Europe blends fun dining with
 lively history in European cities,
with a focus on meeting "food folks."
EATING EUROPE is now in nine cities: Rome, Florence, London, Amsterdam, Prague, Naples, Lisbon, Strasbourg and Paris. Expansion is underway so check out the website for updates on new cities.
Thumbs up, tummies happy, for this marvelous eat-walk-smile touring venture. eatingeurope.com

UP
Come with us next week to sample rijsttafel, as Cookie is about to,
first in line at Amsterdam's popular Blue Pepper Restaurant.
NEXT:
While we're on the subject of great eating, come with us to sample rijsttafel, that magnificent Indonesian invention which originated in Southeast Asia and spread to Holland. The colorful meal is savored slowly and consists of a selection of spiced rice dishes and succulent small plates. It crossed the seas to the Netherlands because of the long interest of Dutch sailing and enterprise in Indonesia and is considered a specialty dish in Amsterdam. No place makes it better than Blue Pepper Restaurant.  Come enjoy a look at the history and appeal of this intriguing and complex culinary invention. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us each Friday for a fresh spin on travel, nature, the arts, family and more.

6 comments:

  1. This is too much fun. I found it while browsing and looking for a fun way to experience Prague. Now I'm hungry! Thank you.

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  2. So much to eat, so little time! We are headed to Naples in spring and will definitely add this to our itinerary. Keep up the delightful travelogues.

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  3. Fresno FrancophilesOctober 20, 2019 at 3:31 PM

    Love this. Did it in Paris and was not aware of the eight other cities. Will tie in with the Italian ones next summer. THANK YOU. Our Paris tour was tres magnifique.

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  4. Delightful idea. Good for Eating Europe. I've always wanted to combine these two favorite pursuits: eating and walking through a new town.

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  5. Heard the program is adding more cities...please keep us informed.

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  6. Fort Bragg FrolickersOctober 25, 2019 at 11:08 AM

    Fun story and photos, great idea. Looking forward to sampling next summer.

    ReplyDelete