Having visited several countries in Europe, I have developed a theory relating to Europeans and food: in general, Europeans take cooking, food, and mealtimes more seriously than Americans. I had the privilege of taking a cooking class from the renowned Mamma Agata at her home on the Almalfi coast of Italy. As I observed the passion and attention to detail that she exhibited in every step of the cooking process, I was enamored.  I concluded that Europeans placed more emphasis on the process of food than Americans. Europeans take pride in their food selection, cooking, and mealtimes, as opposed to the fast food, TV dinner culture of America. Here are a few tips on how you can eat like a European and feel happier and healthier as a result.

Purchase Fresh Ingredients

sausage, meat, vegetable, pork
Emily Genzer

If you have ever been grocery shopping in Europe, you have probably noticed that specific stores only sell certain goods. For example, bakeries sell bread, butchers sell meat, and farm stands sell produce. Because these markets specialize in one category, they sell the best of their kind. Therefore, Europeans are receiving only the freshest ingredients, which make cooking far more enjoyable.

Try making a sandwich with fresh bread from a local bakery or cook with veggies from a local farmers market. Fresh food tastes better and contains more nutritional value than processed foods.

Practice the Art of Cooking

soup, cream, vegetable, tea, parsley, broth, lobster bisque, gravy
Anna Doherty

For Europeans, cooking is more of an art form than a chore. It is no wonder why Americans have been imitating Italian, French, and Greek cooking styles for centuries. Europeans typically enjoy perfecting the art of cooking through creativity and improvisation. Next time you put on your apron and get your chef on, try being inventive instead of following a recipe word-for-word. Your results may surprise you!

Encourage Sit-Down Meals

gnocchi, sweet potato, potato
Emily Genzer
Most European schools give students and teachers an hour or longer break for lunch. This way, people have the leisure of eating at home, meeting up with family or friends, and sitting down to enjoy mealtime conversation. There are typically limited distractions during European mealtimes, leaving room for conversation. Also, fast food restaurants in Europe are scarce, which does not give busy, working people the opportunity to eat on-the-go as often as Americans do. Next time you are eating a family dinner at home, try to encourage a sit-down dinner at the table instead of one on the couch in front of the TV. Your family will appreciate both the food and your company. 

Make Time for Food

olive oil, olive, oil, cheese, salad, tomato, balsamic, caprese salad, mozzarella
Emily Genzer

There's no denying, eating like a European takes time. In order to pick out fresh foods, cook, experiment, and sit down to enjoy the meal, you must have a passion for food. Try allotting an hour out of your day for each meal. Enjoy the food and the company of your friends or family, and have fun picking out new foods.

When it comes to food culture, you can't deny the Europeans' expertise. Whether it's buying, cooking, or eating it, Europeans have a special knack. If you have the same passion for food as the Europeans, consider making these subtle lifestyle changes that will improve your food quality and enjoyment.