borscht soup

7 Eastern European Dishes to Try on Your Trip

While on a trip in Eastern Europe, you might feel a bit intimidated by some of the local dishes. The following delicacies are not as scary they sound.

By: Jennifer Gilligan

We all want to know what we’re eating, and sometimes that’s tough when your meal is spelled with letters you’ve never seen. While on a trip in Eastern Europe, you might feel a bit intimidated by some of the local dishes or perhaps, the items on your flight menu. The following delicacies are not as scary they sound.

“Gołąbki” literally means “little pigeons,” but thankfully that’s misleading. They are common cabbage rolls made with minced meat (either pork or beef), rice, and onions served in a tomato sauce. This dish is popular around Christmas, but you can find it asny time of the year.

This soup gets its strange color from beetroot, but oftentimes the primary ingredient is tomato. It has vegetables like potatoes and onions, and is usually garnished with sour cream and parsley. Borscht is a hot dish, and is both for vegetarians and meat-eaters.

One look at the photo above might arouse a variety of suspicions. Fortunately, “placki” is just a simple form of potato pancake (served with veggies above). It’s served both as “placki kartoflane”, or the vegetarian “placki ziemniaczane.”

You’ve probably heard the word “pierogies” (“per-oh-geys”), and you’ve probably eaten them before without realizing it. They are essentially dumplings wrapped in dough and fried in butter. The fillings range from savory to sweet, including meat and sauerkraut to different types of fruit.

cheese pie

Despite the mouthful, this harsh-sounding title represents a harmless cheese pie. They vary in style over various European countries, but all versions include the buttery, flaky “filo” dough you can find on many American pastries.

For those who get nervous even with the prettier dishes, here’s your “paprikash” breakdown. Its most commonly served with chicken, always in a zesty sauce and with plenty of red bell pepper. However, be warned: it can get pretty spicy.

Admittedly, it looks like anything may be mashed up in the bowl pictured above. And generally, cooks across Eastern Europe will mix their “bigos” up, as there is no determined recipe. At its base, it’s beef or pork with cabbage. The chef can add an array of natural flavorings such as honey, juniper berries, and pepper, or any other delectable ingredient as they see fit.

Eastern European dishes may have their oddities, but they use many of the same ingredients as American dishes. Try being adventurous when you can, and dive into something outside of your comfort zone! You may find a language guide to be helpful when you find yourself unsure of other menu items.