Winter food during the harsh, cold season keeps us warm and full. So here are some winter foods that you can indulge in, when you want something warm in a restaurant or in the comfort of your own home.
If you do want to spoil yourself by going out, don’t forget to download TWISPER to discover great places that serve the following great winter foods!
Chinese fondue is a fun winter food that’s communal and can warm you up during the cold season. Originating in eastern China, Chinese fondue comprises of a large bowl of broth that’s heated and placed in the center of a table. Ingredients include thin slices of meat and raw vegetables.
Like its cheesy counterpart, eating Chinese fondue is a moment of connection with comfort food. It’s also a good exercise in civility as you try not to hate your loved ones when they pick slices of meat that you want, and to not make fun of that person who can’t handle the spice.
Chinese fondue tips
- Take turns. Like in fondue, don’t just hastily eat all the meat pieces and hog precious pot space.
- Know your broth. Most Chinese fondues have some spice in them, with Sichuan red chili being the most common flavor of broth. There’s also the clear broth, a common one found in northern China. Clear broth is not spicy, and uses simple ingredients, such as water, scallions, ginger, peppers, shiitake mushrooms and jujubes. Some bowls have a partition so that you can include 2 types of broth just for the very purpose of letting people with different taste preferences enjoy this tasty winter food. Some restaurants also allow you to mix your broths!
- My favorite types of meat are lamb and beef because they absorb the flavor quite well. There’s also tofu and potatoes for those who don’t want to eat meat.
- Make sure to add side dishes like Chinese cabbage, lettuce and noodles. Chinese fondue is best alongside them!
Fondue is the quintessential winter food in Switzerland and France. In the winter season, many French and Swiss people go to nice bistros and gather around this melting pot of cheese, aromas and flavors.
This winter food has its origins in 18th century Switzerland 🇨🇭as a comfort food for farming families with limited budget during the harsh winter months. With a name that comes from the word fondre, which means to melt in French, the meal is exactly what it sounds like: melted cheese mixed with dry white wine in a pot that you can dip bread into.
Fondue first appeared in written recipes in 18th-century cookbooks in France and Belgium using the Gruyère cheese, named after the famous medieval town in Fribourg, Switzerland.
Years later, fondue would become widespread winter comfort food, in part, thanks to a 1930s campaign by the Swiss Cheese Union (Schweizerische Käseunion) – yeah, that’s a thing – to increase cheese consumption in Switzerland.
TWISPER is a global travel app that’s been founded in Switzerland, so naturally we know how to eat fondue the right way.
But, is there a right way to eat fondue, you ask? Of course, there is!
It’s a common dish in Switzerland, and customs have been made around it! Here are some fondue tips to eat it like the Swiss do.
- The best type of fondue cheese is Gruyère. Other types include Emmental, creamy Vacherin fribourgeois, or moitié-moitié (half-half in English), which contains half-Gruyère and half Vacherin fribourgeois.
- A glass of acidic, white wine is the non-negotiable drink for the Swiss, and it can be a Fendant from Valais or a La Côte from Vaud in Switzerland. The white wine helps with digestion. Otherwise, for those who don’t drink alcohol, hot tea is also an option. But in any case, don’t drink anything too cold, as the cheese might cause stomach problems! Before your first sip, don’t forget to give a toast with your friends or family with eye contact! It is rude not to.
- Whenever you dip your bread into the cheese using the long fondue fork, stir it a bit to avoid the bread sticking to the edges and burning. Then lay it on your plate to cool down. The long fondue fork is traditionally only for dipping, so you should eat the bread with melted cheese using a fork and knife, to avoid contamination. Also, avoid dipping when someone else is doing it.
- If you want to add pepper or other types of seasoning, grind a little amount to your plate and dab your bread with, instead of seasoning the melted cheese. Some people might not like the seasoning, after all.
- Do you know what the religieuse is? It’s the crusty, slightly burnt layer of cheese that forms at the bottom of the pot if you’ve been stirring away your fondue at a very low bubble. Translated as the nun in English, it’s a solidified layer of cheese that you can chip off with a knife to eat and share. Enjoy!
Beef Stroganoff originated in Russia in the mid 1800s and was named after the highly influential and wealthy Stroganov family of merchants. Back then it had no onions or mushrooms. From there, it spread across the world and became a staple in many restaurants across Europe, Asia and even South America. Given its rich flavor and texture, this is not surprising!
After the fall of the Russian Empire, the recipe became popular across hotels and restaurants in China, and the end of the Second World War brought it to the rest of the world.
Over the years, the recipe has been altered to fit in with other cultures’ culinary tastes (and local ingredients). But across all of them, beef remains a common choice because it is a great comfort food that’s rich enough to keep you full and decadent enough to be a winter comfort food.
- This winter food is rather rich, since it contains both full fat sour cream and beef fat. But in restaurants, the best kind of beef stroganoff is one that doesn’t feel heavy and greasy. This is a sign that the beef they’ve used isn’t full of fat, and not a cheaper cut.
- Also, consider the way they’ve sliced the beef, and their cooking. Normally, it’s better to have thick slices than thin ones, because thin strips of beef tend to get overcooked more easily. Slices with a nice amount of browning are typically the best, which takes an expert cook to do. After all, people who try to get a nice brown on their slices often end up with overcooked slices of beef, because the time it takes for the slices to brown is only seconds away from overcooked. And overcooking the beef slices results in really gummy pieces, which are not delightful to chew.
- Beef stroganoff can come with white rice, pasta, or potatoes. It really depends on your taste, but in my opinion, rice is the lightest option to accompany a rich winter food. Fettucini noodles, which have less fat, are also a nice alternative to the often-used egg noodles.
All right, it’s a winter drink, but mulled wine is a staple beverage for the winter season, so it’s silly to exclude it! The first record of wine being spiced and heated was in the 2nd century by the Romans, who would heat up wine to warm their bodies against the winter cold.
Today, many different variants exist across Europe. This includes Glühwein (translated as glowing wine in English in reference to the heat which is applied to the wine), which is popular in German-speaking countries, and is a mainstay in Christmas markets. There’s also the Swedish Lutendrank, which mixes wine, spices and milk, and the Nordic glögg, which uses vodka instead of cognac in the wine mix.
- There’s so many different types of mulled wine that it’s nice to try the different variations that exist to cater to your taste. In particular, why not try dry, acidic white wine?
- Traditional mulling spices include cinnamon, star anise, cloves and nutmeg. But you can also add cardamom, bay leaves, vanilla pods or even ginger.
- Mulled wine normally contains sugar and spices, but you can also add other sweetener alternatives instead, like honey!
Erwtensoep/Dutch split pea soup
The Dutch split pea soup is the quintessential cold weather food that you eat and immediately feel better afterwards. There’s a belief that a good erwtensoep should be so thick that a spoon will stand upright in it.
The split pea soup is traditionally served on New Year’s Eve. People normally eat this winter food with rookworst (smoked sausage) and rye bread topped with katenspek, a type of Dutch smoked bacon.
Winter blues are a real thing and they affect more than your heating bill and your wardrobe. When winter hits, our mood sinks. Comfort food is a tiny bit of happiness during the toughest season.
We hope that you’ve had a bit of inspiration on what to eat! As always, if you want to discover the best local places to eat these winter meals, download TWISPER!