To really get to know a country, learn about its traditional dishes. Whether you’re enjoying a home-cooked meal at a village B&B, a decadent dinner at a sophisticated urban Michelin-starred restaurant, or foraged finds from a bustling food market, let a country’s food be your guide. After all, cuisine is always at the heart of a nation’s history and culture. When you’re traveling, trying the iconic dishes that have earned their reputations as national treasures is a must—and so is seeking out the locally-revered specialties that aren’t yet on your radar.
For starters, one of the quintessential dishes of France is the hearty cassoulet. This southwestern specialty is a slow-baked casserole filled with tender haricot beans, pieces of pork and rich duck or goose confit. For a luscious, lesser-known classic Gallic specialty, sample some pork or duck rillettes, seasoned shreds of meat preserved in its own fat; it makes a delicious appetizer when spread on bread.
For a taste of Spain, there’s savory paella, which hails from the eastern coast. The traditional rice dish is cooked in a wide, shallow pan and features fresh vegetables such as garrofó beans, artichokes and peppers, as well as wild game, snails and sometimes seafood. Get better acquainted with Spanish gastronomic traditions by feasting on another national dish, cocido—a stew featuring chicken, beef, vegetables, chickpeas and sausage.
Switzerland’s best known for smooth, flavorful fondue, an Alpine tradition. This communal dish is made from melted Gruyère or Vacherin cheese, white wine and a splash of kirsch, and is served with bread cubes for dunking. Boost your knowledge of Swiss specialties by enjoying thin slices of bündnerfleisch, salt-cured air-dried beef from the Graubünden region, along with some local wine and pieces of crusty bread.
Sample these classic foods and more by booking an epicurean excursion to one of the many Swiss International Air Lines European destinations, and immerse yourself in Swiss hospitality and culture on the way with the Swiss Taste of Switzerland program. Featuring local Swiss cheeses, wines and other specialties, these rotating menus created by top Swiss chefs showcase the wide-ranging regional flavors of Switzerland.