History of European Cuisine and Gastronomy

Cuisines around the world vary according to the tastes and preferences of the people. Various countries have their special cuisines that have evolved over time. Different ethnicities and races like and love to eat their specific foods.  Numerous styles of cookery have also been seen among the various forms of culture. Asians, Arabians, Italians, Frenchmen or Europeans – all have their own preferences when it comes to cuisine. The ingredients, styles of cooking, and cooking methods vary from country to country.

Europeans have a history of cuisines, their unique foods and way of preparing European meals can be seen if you look into the history of gastronomy.

European cuisine with its special, unique features. Below is the gastronomy history of European meals grouped into the different periods of time.

Roman Times

The Romans had a unique taste and their food preferences evolved over the time. They often eat the placenta, which was full of nutrients, vegetables, fruits, cheese, and olives. They liked their meat to be boiled or stewed, which was considered a class of status and wealth. They did not prefer roasting of the meat as it was considered savage and brutal. They preferred meatballs with sweet and sour sauces. They had a fondness for glazed sauces, which included honey, vinegar, spices, and herbs. The common spices were asafoetida, saffron, cardamom, ginger, spikenard, and pepper.

For breakfast (ientaculum or jentaculum), Romans mostly ate cheese, eggs, meats, honey, fruits and bread dipped in wine. Slaves’ or poor Romans’ breakfast was much simpler: porridge, a small piece of bread and some fruits.  For lunch (cibus meridianus or prandium) Romans ate meat, eggs, bread, eggs, cheese, vegetables, and salad. For light dinner (vesperna) was characterized with the meatless dish. For dinner (cena), they ate various meats, eggs, honey, vegetables, cheese, and fruits. Cheesecake, honey or fruits were served for dessert.

Renaissance and Middle Ages

In these ages, the cuisines saw a tremendous change. The upper classes ate like Romans but the Germanic and Franks popularities started preferring meat. Medieval cuisines diverged from the styles of Romans, the vegetables were eaten in a limited quantity and olive oil was replaced with lard and bacon. From the 15th century, the taste of sweet and the taste of sour made the way to Europe.

In the middle ages, meat evolved into the vital point of the cuisines. Fish and meat were boiled or roasted, offered with a light sauce. Usually, meat was cooked with sauces of vinegar, fruits or sugar and spices. The rich ate poultry and fruit, while the poor ate dark bread and vegetables. Spices became a sign of lavishness and were preferred over herbs.

The ordinary spices included cardamom, saffron, cloves, nutmeg, galangal, ginger, cinnamon, pepper, cubeb, long pepper, mace and paradise grains. The dinner consisted of 5 services, which were called “service à la française”, – every service has a variety of foods.

The 17th to 18th Century

In the 17th and 18th century, European cuisines did not see much evolvement, and the medieval cuisines were still famous in this era. The French, however, rejected these tastes and discovered natural flavors, food that is undercooked and meat juices, stocks and coulis. In terms of serving the dinner, the Europeans continued the service “à la française” while the French divided the meal into savoury dishes and desserts. The meal was served in a standard order that is first the appetizer or soup, second the main course, then entremets and desserts.

The 19th to 20th Century

In Europe, classic cuisine became the standard from the 19th century to the 20th century. Cuisine classic is still famous and is a mixture of local dishes and different recipes. The cuisine classic was very persuaded by the broths and provided new basics that are used today.  Veal essences and stock of fish also became the part of the cuisines.

This era saw huge trendsetting changes, in which restaurants became widespread, cookbooks flourished and food products were protected under a system of the certificate. The imports of the foods from the world started a revolution, which included potatoes, tomatoes, and beans. Desserts were also transformed due to the incomings of coffee, cocoa, pineapple, and vanilla. The serving of dinner was done in the service that is famous by the name of “service à la russe”, in which dinner was served on the table and all the participants ate the same dishes.

Nouvelle Cuisines

These are the cuisines that are still evolving. The word nouvelle cuisines were first taken in the advent of the 17th century and some commandments were made for the nouvelle cuisines, which rejected the long food cooking time, spices, various marinades and heavy sauces that changed the natural flavour. New techniques, food products, and presentations are introduced. In the 1970s and 1980s nouvelle cuisines did not cut from the cuisine classic, instead the chefs learnt from the Japanese cuisines to reduce the time of food preparations, pay value to the needs of the diner, dishes presented artistically and the menus were described in detail in terms of the ingredients while the food portion size was reduced.

The followers of cuisine classic, local food champions and nouvelle cuisine promoters, all defend against the issue of promotion of junk and fast food, development of food industry and changing of the modern diet.


Today, more and more foods are brought to Europe. People from other countries like Asia and Africa, move to Europe with their particular tastes. Now the European cuisines also consist of tofu, peanut oil, safflower oil, curry, and couscous.