Food and drink

Explore European cultural heritage through food and drink.

Edible Plants from the Americas

Europe’s eating habits would be very different had explorer Christopher Columbus not set out to find a faster route from Spain to south-east Asia. This exhibition explores how the newly discovered edible plants had a major impact on global culture, economics and politics.

Where would we be without Italian tomatoes, Irish potatoes and Belgian chocolate? The reality is that these and many other plants familiar to us today are not indigenous to Europe.


Early adopter Christopher Columbus apparently translated the papaya’s Carib name ‘ababi’ as ‘fruit of the angels’.

Annonas, custard apples and soursops are small tropical trees or shrubs from the Annonaceae family. The genus Annona includes approximately 200 recognised species.

The greatest diversity of tomato species is concentrated in South America, especially in the Andes.

Capsicum (pepper) is a neotropical genus belonging to the Solanaceae family which includes around 32 species of shrubs and subshrubs.


The potato originated in the Andes, where the indigenous population domesticated a variety of native wild species.

The cassava is a shrub that grows up to 3 meters in height with tuberous roots, rich in starch and reaching up to a metre in length.

The cacao is a small tree, reaching up to eight meters in height. The fruit contains 30-40 seeds surrounded by a white pulp – these are the cacao beans.


The peanut or groundnut is a herbaceous plant, between 30-50 cm tall.


Corn is an annual grass of the genus Zea which includes seven species native to Mexico and Central America.

Among the Cactaceae, Opuntia is the most widely distributed and the most diverse genus, with approximately 75 American species.

cropped illustration from a vermouth poster showing three bottles on a table
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Exploring the history of vermouth, an aperitivo drink produced in Turin

black and white photograph of two young women eating ice-cream cones
Blog post

Explore the history of ice-cream in Sweden

black and white photograph of a table with dishes
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Take a culinary tour to discover seven foods named after European places

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Extending 36 kilometres along the Danube, the Wachau is a landscape of stunning scenery

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A short history of working as a waiter in restaurants

Like many large companies, the story of Van Nelle business started with a small shop.

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Behind pizza's simplicity lies a much more complex history – this is the tale of the Margherita’s migration.

This blog, illustrated with newly digitised material from Dublin City Library and Archive, tells the history of the Jacob’s Biscuit Factory, home of the cream cracker.


Here's a sweet treat: this gallery presents chocolate advertising from across Europe.

As a child growing up in Senegal, Maggi cubes and Maggi sauce were a big and important ingredient in many Senegalese dishes, if not all of them.

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With today’s craft beer movement, the origins of beer culture come more and more to the fore.

Have you ever wanted to know more about this wonderful hot drink, about where it’s from, how you grow it, and how the plant is prepared?

Archaeology can give great insight into what processes have made us the humans we are today.


How do you take your tea? Served in an elegant parlour, from a flask or during a Japanese ceremony?


From the earliest archaeological finds to more recent technology, how we prepare our food.

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Meet the women who taught Europe to cook.

Highlighting vintage food and drink advertisements in Europeana.

What you may not know about Rotterdam is its contribution to the world’s fast-food heritage: ‘kapsalon’.


Ice cream, eis, gelato... eating and enjoying ice-cream is a quintessential summertime activity

Learning scenarios about food

English, STEAM - Primary school

STEAM - Lower and Upper Secondary

English and Philosophy - Upper secondary

English and History - Primary school

Language subjects, STEAM - Vocational educational training and Lower secondary

Art, English - Upper secondary

English, Language subjects, STEAM - Lower secondary, Upper secondary