Bread brings Europe together. Pasta is popular everywhere, but undeniably Italian; potatoes are a staple in the north, but less popular elsewhere. Only bread unites—but it divides too.
Cities across the continent have their own local speciality, from Glasgow in the North to Madrid in the South. Here’s what to look out for if you want to break bread with the natives the next time you’re in one of these Indigo cities:
Glasgow: Morning Roll
The Morning Roll is big business in Glasgow: its right up there with Irn Bru in terms of iconic value. Popular, too: McGhee’s, one of the city’s two main producers, sells more than 500,000 of its crispy morning rolls a week. Crispy on the outside and light inside, a Morning Roll is best filled with bacon, square sausage or fried egg and potato scone and eaten for breakfast.
Try at: The Wee Van, Finnieston
Durham: Stottie Cake
In Durham and Northumberland, England’s most north-easterly counties, one bread rules them all – even if it’s called a cake. Stottie Cake is a wide, flat, dense bread roll, which owes its weight and texture to the fact it’s baked at a low heat. The name comes from Geordie dialect, in which ‘to stot’ means ‘to bounce’. They’re better eaten than bounced, though.
Try at: 9 Altars Café
The Hague: Tiger Bread
Named for the pattern of its outer skin, tijgerbrood or Tiger bread—sometimes called Dutch Crunch in the US—was invented in the Netherlands in the 1970 and can now be found in bakeries around the world. The unusual effect on the surface of the bread is achieved using a mixture of rice flour and yeast, which is pasted on the pre-baked dough. Enjoy bread in the roar.
Try at: Roodenrijs, across the city
Paris: The Baguette
Parisians take their baguettes very, very seriously. Every year, in fact, there’s a competition—the Grand prix de la baguette de Paris—to find the best one. In 2017, it was won by the Brun Bakery in the 13th arrondissement. You don’t need to go there, though: there’s good bread all over—just look out for a properly crusty crust and that unmistakable baguette aroma.
Try at: Boulangerie Hubert
Dusseldorf: Halve Hahn
It might be called ‘half a chicken’ but if you’re expecting meat then you will be sorely disappointed. Halve Hahn is actually a roll or piece of bread with cheese on top, such as Bauernhandkäse, a type of sour German cheese, which is used at Im Goldenen Kessel, one of the old town’s most atmospheric bars. You can expect butter and sometimes pickles, too. But not chicken.
Try it at: Im Goldenen Kessel
This ring-shaped roll is ubiquitous in Kraków, being sold from carts all over the city. Boiled before it’s baked and often sprinkled with salt, poppy seeds or sesame seeds, it’s a close cousin of the bagel, which is also thought to have been first produced in Kraków. Around 150,000 Obwarzanki are sold on the Kraków market every day, especially to cash-strapped students. That’s because they’re cheap: expect to pay no more than 1.50 Polish Zloty, or 30p.
Try it at: Street corners all over the city
Madrid: Bocadillo de Calamares
Few European nations make sandwiches so superbly as Spain; from the bocadillo de tortilla (a Spanish omelette in a Spanish-style baguette) to bocadillo de chorizo, it’s hard to go wrong. In Madrid, the bocadillo de calamares—a dense roll filled with deep-fried squid—is particularly popular with drinkers around Plaza Mayor.
Try it at: La Campana