Almost all cultures have cakes and sweets, although some stand out more than others. Thus, while both Indians and Mexicans have excellent cuisines that do not stand out because of their desserts, the Arabs, the Turks, and the Japanese have wonderful pastries. Where is Europe in all this? Very well located.
In Europe, many very different cultures have lived together, from the Norse and Vikings to the peoples of the Mediterranean. All this coexistence and these cultural exchanges have made European cuisine one of the most relevant worldwide and where we can find many cities to taste good sweets.
The best European cities for pastries and sweets:
The French capital is undoubtedly not only a reference in Europe, but now also worldwide, in terms of desserts and sweets. The eclairs au chocolat and countless recipes such as Pain aux Raisins or Pain au Chocolat are from here. It is a destination that should not be missing from any sweet trip through Europe.
Legend has it that the croissant was invented in Vienna (‘crescent moon’ in French) to celebrate the victory against the Ottomans, whose symbol was a half moon, and that is what we eat for breakfast. Vienna is famous for its croissants, but also for many other wonderful rolls and sweets.
Lisbon is the pastry Paradise, from pingos to pasteis de nata typical of the area of Belem. In this city, we can enjoy their wonderful pastelerias to try the widest variety of sweets.
The Asturian capital is perhaps the only Spanish city that can rival Lisbon in terms of pastry shops per square metre. They are famous for their almond and honey carabayones, but also for their casadielles or frixuelos, typical of all Asturias, not to mention the typical moscovitas biscuits.
How could we forget about the typical London cakes with teatime? Going to London means having tea with pastries or cakes at five o’clock, but not only that: In London there are a lot of different chocolates and sweets that we cannot find on the mainland of Europe and also a great variety of cakes, sweets, and tarts among which we can highlight, as something very British, the After Eight.
Another Spanish city, also in the north, in which the most characteristic sweet is the Tarta Santiago. Without a doubt, we all know it, but buying it in the bakery on the corner is not the same as in the city where it was born; Not to mention other typical desserts like filloas.
The capital of Lower Brittany is one of the best European cities to enjoy sweets. Here we can taste the wonderful Breton crêpes that remind us very much of their Celtic counterparts from Galicia (filloas) or Asturias (frixuelos). In addition, in Brittany we can savour the delicious palets brétons e gâteaux brétons.
Liège stands out as one of the sweetest European cities, known for its gaufres. While it is true that there are gaufres throughout Belgium, those in Liège are substantially different from those in Brussels as they are larger and fluffier. In addition, Liège is the city of the café liégois, a kind of coffee with ice cream, biscuit, and cream that will delight even the sweetest tooth.
The Dutch city of Gouda is not only known for its wonderful cheese that we use so often in burgers. Stroopwafels, delicious wafers with caramel syrup and brown sugar, are also from here.
Venice is a city to visit for a thousand reasons, but perhaps the most outstanding is because it was the birthplace of the famous tiramisu, one of the most emblematic desserts of Venetian and Italian cuisine.
Europeans and their sweets
Despite this European love for sweets, if it is true that little by little the consumption of sugar in the old continent is being reduced. At least, this is what emerges from a study carried out by a well-known consultant in which it appears that European consumers are gradually reducing their consumption of sugar and moving on to “healthy life.” For this study, data on sugar consumption have been compiled from countries such as Poland, Italy, France, Germany, and Spain.
All of these countries are both producers and consumers of sweets, but at the same time they understand the importance of maintaining a healthy diet, and for this it is necessary to reduce the consumption of sugar. According to this study, 64% of Italian consumers, 63% of Spanish consumers, and 61% of Polish consumers claim to be actively reducing the use of sugar and avoid eating sugary foods. The opinion is reduced among citizens of other countries: 59% of French people and 51% of Germans. According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), the consumption of sugar in Europe per person is 90g per day and it is recommended that a person consume only 5% of their daily calorie intake in sweets.