While on holiday, sitting down to share a delicious meal of local foods is a great way to get together with the people we care about most. Here, we take a look at the fantastic foods of France, Greece and Spain.
France is a foodie’s dream. The French take great pride in their food, placing emphasis not only on processes and presentation, but also on the experience of eating as a social activity.
Breakfast is a simple affair for French folk. Seek out a local bakery, and kick-start your day by ordering a ‘café au lait’ - a large milky coffee, rather than ‘un café’ - an espresso. On the menu, you’ll find cold or toasted baguette, flaky croissants and pain au chocolat. Some bakeries sell sweeter pastries in the morning, such as chocolate eclairs, these are traditionally more of a dessert - but the choice is yours!
Lunch in a restaurant can be as extravagant as dinner, but if you can’t stomach several multi-course meals in one day, you can seek out lighter options for lunch, such as sandwich stalls or boulangeries selling baguettes and sweet or savoury crêpes.
Dinner out is quite structured and usually begins with nibbles and an aperitif to sip as you peruse the menu. Why not try a kir - cool white wine and crème de cassis. The list of entrées you might come across is endless, from escargot dripping in garlic and herb butter to pearly scallops in white wine sauce.
Mains are traditionally a hearty meat or fish dish; popular options include the boozy coq au vin, or bouillabaisse - a fish stew which originated in Provence. Feeling virtuous? Opt for a crispy niçoise salad prepared with hard boiled eggs, tuna and anything else the chef decides to include!
In France, you needn’t choose between a cheeseboard and a dessert - it’s perfectly acceptable to have both. Reach for the creamy brie, camembert and crumbly roquefort, and feel no shame in munching a fruit tarte with crème pâtissiére.
Eating out is a popular pastime in Greece and food, especially the evening meal, is to be savoured. Many Greek restaurants don’t expect to reset tables during the evening, so relax and enjoy.
Breakfast for holidaymakers in Greece used to mean a continental-style meal of croissants and sliced meats. Fortunately, traditional fare is becoming more readily available. Find a local bakery to try a tiropita - a hot flaky pastry filled with local cheeses, or try tiganites - Greek pancakes, topped with honey or spread with a soft cheese called anthotyro.
Lunch is typically light for Greeks, as the evening meal is the time for feasting. If you are out and about, try a gyro - similar to a donor kebab. Meat is cooked on a vertical spit and wrapped in pitta bread alongside tzatziki, salad, and often chips.
If you want something cool, opt for a Greek salad with creamy feta cheese, drizzled with the famed Greek olive oil.
Dinner can be as extravagant as you like, and this is a great time to try some mezedes. Greek people don’t tend to drink alcohol without eating, so heading out with friends for ouzo and tasty mini dishes can be the main event, in fact, you can make it a main course!
Some favourites are:
• Dolmathakia - tender grape leaves containing little parcels of rice, nuts and herbs, and sometimes minced meat.
• Saganaki - gooey, deep- or pan-fried cheese, with a crispy coating. Enough said.
• Keftedakia - meatballs made with ground beef, garlic and bread crumbs.
Moving on to mains, you can’t visit Greece without trying its answer to lasagne - moussaka. For coastal areas and on the Greek islands, it has to be fish, from calamari and prawns to succulent sea bass and octopus.
For dessert, loukoumades are irresistible fried doughnut balls soaked in syrup or honey, then sprinkled with cinnamon.
Spanish people spread their meals out with lunch and dinner coming later than we are used to. Adjust to the Spanish meal clock to avoid dining out alone.
Breakfast for Spanish people is light, but deliciously sweet. Indulge in golden-brown churros, sprinkled with icing sugar, or dipped in either thick hot chocolate or frothy café con leche. Another option is the fluffy, lemony magdalenas - small cupcakes available from bakeries.
Lunch is the main event and the menu del dia, a set meal with a few options, is the cheapest way to eat out. Most people begin with an appetiser of cured meats and cheeses which Spain is famed for, before moving on to the primer plato - the starter.
Popular options are fish and shellfish soup, tomato gazpacho, or grilled asparagus in oil and vinegar. Next is the meat or fish.
It would be sacrilege not to try the seafood paella at least once, but you could also try one of the many variations of the Spanish chicken stew. Of course, wine with the meal is encouraged, or opt for sangria!
Dinner can consist of some of the dishes which you’ve seen at lunch, but opting for tapas is a fun experience - you can bar hop, trying out the tapas as you go. Some good options are:
• Tortilla Española - the traditional Spanish potato omelette which sometimes includes chorizo.
• Patatas Bravas - fried potato cubes served with a fiery tomato sauce.
• Gambas al ajillo - fresh prawns served in olive oil and lots of garlic.
For a delicious souvenir, take home some turrón - soft nougat with toasted almonds.
So there you have it, a plate to delight any palate… And this is merely a small taste of all you might enjoy eating, out under the sun.
Now we've managed to thoroughly whet your appetite, why not taste the delicious dishes while on holiday? To book your next food-filled break, visit the RCI Resort Directory to discover where you could be jetting off to next.
If you are a timeshare owner and want to be part of the RCI Holiday Exchange programme, click Join RCI below and start travelling the world...