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From the warm waters of the Mediterranean to the frigid Finnish frontier, spanning Spanish plains in the west to Russian steppes in the east, Europe encompasses a dizzying diversity of geography, history, culture and cuisines.
European culinary history, as with many things European, got its start in Greece. The Greeks in turn strongly influenced the Romans, whose cooking was a version of what we call today the Mediterranean diet — olive oil, whole grains, olives, wine, cheeses, fresh fruits and vegetables.
In Northern Europe, on the other hand, a settled culture came somewhat later. There the diet centered mainly around cattle and sheep, milk, butter, cabbages and root vegetables. The culinary distinctions between northern and southern Europe remain to this day.