What is Continental Cuisine?
Cuisines are often named after the geographic areas or regions from which they originate. A cuisine is primarily influenced by the ingredients that are available locally or through trade. Religious food laws, such as Islamic dietary laws and Jewish dietary laws, can also exercise a strong influence on cuisine. Regional food preparation traditions, customs and ingredients often combine to create dishes unique to a particular region. Cuisine can be stated as the foods and methods of food preparation traditional to a region or population. The major factors shaping a cuisine are climate, which in large measure determines the native raw materials that are available, economic conditions, which affect trade and can affect food distribution, imports and exports, and religiousness or sumptuous laws, under which certain foods are required or proscribed.
Continental cuisine, is a generalized term collectively referring to the cuisines of Europe and other countries. It includes Europe, Russia, New Zealand, Britain, Australasia, Oceania, Latin America and cuisines of North America which derive substantial influence from continental settlers in those regions. These places may not have a distinguished cuisine of their own, and also are very similar in some way or the other in terms of taste, ingredients, spices, flavorings, herbs and method of cooking. Continental cuisine on the whole can be referred as International cuisine, the term is used by East Asians to contrast with Asian styles of cooking.
Classification of Continental Cuisine
- British- British food is associated with the food culture of United Kingdom. British continental food is mainly distinguished with ‘full breakfast’. Ham, cheese, salami, breads, pastries, pies, hamburger, tea, coffee, butter and jam are some of the main food items served in English breakfast.
- American- American cuisine is classified into various regions: Latin American cuisine, South-American cuisine and North-American cuisine. Americans has a very diverse and rich style of cooking.
- Italian- Italian cuisine is famous for its varied kind of dishes suitable for every occasion. The most distinguished feature of Italian cuisine is that it varies from region to region. It is one of the richest cuisines of the world.
- New Zealand- New Zealand cuisine is also known as Oceanian cuisine and it is mainly famous for seafood.
- Armenian Cuisine, Hungarian cuisine, Russian cuisine, Australian and cuisines from many other European countries come under the category of Continental cuisines.
Ingredients Commonly Used in Continental Cuisine
- Continental dishes contain less chilies and very minimal amount of spices.
- Fresh herbs are widely used in continental recipes.
- Dairy products form an important part of continental dishes.
- Ham, cold meats, pies, pastries, jam and bread are some of the commonly served breakfast items in Continental cuisine.
Cooking Methods Adopted by Continental Cuisine
- Baking- This cooking method is mainly used to make cakes, pastries, pies, etc. In this process food is baked in oven with the help of dry heat.
- Grilling- Food items like chicken, fish, beef, lamb and vegetables are mostly made by this method in continental cuisine.
- Stewing- This is a process of boiling meats and vegetables with other ingredients in a slow cooker. It’s a long process but most of the continental dishes are made by stewing method.
- Roasting- Roasting is a process of making roasted continental dishes. In this method meat and vegetables are roasted in an oven or grill.
Continental Meal Routine
- Breakfast- This is the first meal in almost all continental cuisines. Breakfast is the heaviest meal and British breakfast is the best example for this. Bread, cold meats, cheese, jam, pastries, butter, hot or cold beverage and eggs are the main continental dishes served in British breakfast.
- Lunch- Lunch is mainly served between 1 pm- 3 pm. Continental food served at lunch time in European countries are usually lighter than the breakfast. Some commonly served continental dishes in lunch are mini-sandwiches, turkey rolls, sautéed veggies, assorted herbed cheese cubes and Caribbean chicken. Salads and breads are also served as side dishes. Continental dishes served in dessert are fresh fruit skewers, creamy pie with fruits or cheesecake.
- Evening Snacks- Some people in European countries have a habit of taking evening snacks along with any hot or cold beverage. Cheese rolls, cupcakes, corn toast and cookies are some of the main continental food items that can make a good evening snack.
- Dinner or Supper- Supper is a kind of light meal taken in continental cuisine. It consists of soup, bread, boiled or grilled meat or any kind of light sandwich. As dinner is the lightest meal of the day, supper is the best substitute for dinner. Though dinner comprises very light continental food, this is the last meal of the day and taken around 8 pm in the night.
Eating Habits and Etiquette’s in Continental Cuisine
- Continental food is mainly eaten with the help of fork and knife.
- The silverware used in continental style of dining has to be kept in a proper manner on the table.
- Continental cuisine and dining style make extensive use of accessories like napkins, separate cups of coffee and tea, different sizes of spoons and plates.
- It is considered bad etiquette in continental cuisine if proper instructions and table manners are not followed.
Health Benefits of Continental Food
Continental dishes that are made by stewing, grilling and roasting method are low in calories, as they make very less use of fats. Continental food mainly consists of high protein items like eggs and meats. Seafood is high in Omega-3 fatty acids and it is also one of the main food items in continental dishes.
Popular Continental Recipes
- Welsh cake- It is a special British cake. Welsh cake is popular in international cuisine.
- Yorkshire Pudding- It is a kind of pudding mainly served in British Sunday food.
- Tiramisu- It is one of the most popular Italian desserts well-liked as continental food in global cuisine.
- Sunday Roast- A roasted meat dish served as a main dish in continental cuisines.
- Kidney Pie- It is also one of the popular vegetarian continental dishes made with kidney beans.
- Egg Noodles- Noodles made with egg which have a special place in continental cuisine.
- Black Bean Pizza- It is a kind of pizza made with black bean and other flavored ingredients.
- Lobster Continental- Lobster is one of the main seafood items in Continental food. It is basically eaten with rice.
- Chocolate Pudding with Tropical Fruits- It is a sweet delight offered by continental cuisine. Fresh tropical fruits add the richness to the dish.
- Virginia Roast Pork- Pork as one of the main food item in continental cuisine forms the base of many non-vegetarian continental dishes.
- Baked Sole Fillets- Sole fillets cooked with baking method is a very popular gourmet continental dish.