European Food Battle Royales
Europe is home to a plethora of distinct cuisines and flavors — but despite its diversity, you’ll find many similar themes across the continent.
Fried potatoes, for example, are served up to the devoted masses in Belgium, Spain, France, Bulgaria, Switzerland and beyond. Dumplings, made from bread, flour or potato dough, satisfy in places as disparate as Poland, Slovakia and Lithuania. And don’t even get us started on chocolate and beer.
Here, we examine nine distinct food types to see which place in Europe is doing it best. Hint: Fans of French, Belgian and British fare will be very pleased.
Who Makes Europe's Best Sausage?
At its core, sausage is a casing filled with ground meat and seasonings. From this departure point, however, Europe boasts stunning variety.
In the battle for Europe's best sausage, our contenders are: Germany, France, Spain, Italy, the UK, Scotland, Poland and Finland.
Which place comes out on top?
Sausage Contender: Germany
Germany's sausages were long protected under a unique purity law that stipulated the exclusive use of pure fresh pork and certain seasonings. But that didn't stop the nation from developing over 1,500 sausage types. (Yep, 1,500.)
A wide variety of wurst hold wide appeal, from veal-and-pork-based weiss, to garlicky knack, to fast-food-fave currywurst, a combination of fried sausage and curry-scented sauce.
Germany also boasts a few sausages that are, shall we say, more of an acquired taste, including zungenwurst, a head cheese made with blood, pickled tongue, breadcrumbs and oatmeal. Hey, don't knock it til you've tried it!
Sausage Contender: France
Germany isn’t the only country with a strong sausage tradition. Move slightly west to France, and you’ll encounter herbed chipolatas and a wide selection of dry-cured saucissons, including Lyon's famous rosette, known for its black-pepper kick.
These sausages are usually made with pork but can also be crafted with meats like duck or wild boar. In the proud French tradition, flavorings are bold and inventive, ranging from cheese to dried fruit to nuts.
France also has its share of offal sausages made from animal organs. Standouts include smoked, tripe-based andouille; pungent, chitterling-based andouillette; and the blood sausage known as boudin noir, frequently served with sautéed apples for a salt-meets-sweet treat.
Sausage Contender: Spain
Head south, and you’ll encounter a different type of blood sausage: Spanish morcilla. Often thickened with rice, this sausage joins Iberian chorizo, a dry-cured sausage spiced with New World chiles, in the proud Spanish sausage tradition.
Pro tip: While chorizo can be sweet (dulce), it's best enjoyed in spicy (picante) form. Just be prepared for some serious heat.
Sausage Contender: Italy
While the ubiquitous "Italian" sausages sold in American supermarkets are far from traditional fare in Italy, fennel-enhanced salsiccia can be found in the north of the boot, along with salami. Head farther south to encounter soppressata and pistachio-studded mortadella.
Italy is known the world over for doing meats right, and its sausages are no exception.
Sausage Contender: UK
The UK and British Isles have their own illustrious sausage traditions.
British and Irish sausages are popular at breakfast, lunch and dinner, and often vary from region to region: Cumberland sausages are usually sold as one rope-like coil filled with chunky chopped meat, while Lincolnshire sausages are stuffed with coarsely ground meat seasoned with sage.
You won't go wrong no matter where you dig in.
Sausage Contender: Scotland
Scotland boasts sausage that is, uniquely, square. And some would (slightly controversially, perhaps) categorize the national dish, haggis, as a sort of massive sausage (though Robbie Burns hailed it in a poem as the "great chieftain o the puddin'-race").
Black pudding is popular in Scotland and indeed throughout the British Isles, and sausage also features in a number of key dishes, from sausage rolls to toad in the hole to bangers and mash. Sausages can even be battered and deep-fried for the most delicious heartburn you've ever experienced.
Sausage Contender: Poland
Poland is home of the kielbasa, often flavored with the unique aromas of juniper, which is plentiful in the region.
You'll also find caraway-scented kabanos and marjoram-and-garlic flavored wiejska here. And yes, both are sublime.
Sausage Contender: Finland
Finnish sausages tend to be milder, though blood-based Mustamakkara is rich and aromatic, usually eaten with sweet lingonberry jam. Finland is also known for sausages made with a variety of meat types, including (yes) horse, deer, moose and reindeer.
All of Scandinavia is, in fact, home to a rich sausage tradition. In Denmark, Norway and Iceland, sausages are often flavored with sweet baking spices like allspice. And, much like in Finland, blood sausages are served with sweet accompaniments, like Danish Blodpose, flavored with sugar, raisins and cardamom. Mmmm.
And the Winner Is: Germany
The sheer variety of sausage in Europe makes it tough to pick a winner, but we're going to have to go with Germany, where sausage is a local obsession. That's not hyperbole: Germans devour over 66 pounds of sausage per person per year.
The country even boasts a Bratwurst museum and a sausage-themed hotel in Rittersbach complete with sausage wallpaper, sausage-shaped pillows and, of course, sausage for breakfast, made by owner Claus Böbel, a fourth-generation butcher who opened the B&B right next door to his principal business.
If that’s not commitment to sausage, we don’t know what is.
Who Makes Europe's Best Breakfast Pastry?
Much of Europe indulges in a sweet breakfast, the centerpiece of which is frequently a delectable pastry. Selecting the best of these tasty treats is no easy feat, but we’ve narrowed our list down to the following contenders: Denmark, France, Germany, Italy and Portugal. Which nation is all but guaranteed to satisfy your morning sweet tooth?
Breakfast Pastry Contender: Denmark
In the U.S., one of the most popular morning buns is called a Danish, so it's unsurprising that this sweet features heavily in Denmark's bakeries. The kanelsnegl or — as it literally translates to — “cinnamon snail,” is one of the most popular. But other versions, like marzipan- or custard-stuffed Spandauers or pretzel-like kringles, are also on offer (and absolutely divine).
Just note that, in Denmark, these buns aren't actually called Danishes, but wienerbrod or Vienna bread!
Breakfast Pastry Contender: France
Vienna bread is also a term used in France, which dubs its most famous baked goods — croissants, brioches and pains au chocolat — viennoiseries, or “things from Vienna.”
Indeed, this yeasted laminated dough was probably introduced into France in the 19th century by Austrian pastry chef August Zang, before it made its way into Denmark following the 19th century bakers' strike.
These days, few tourists complete a trip without eating at least one croissant each morning, indisputably the best of France’s superb sweet treats.
Breakfast Pastry Contender: Germany
Germany’s beloved Franzbrotchen is croissant-esque, but uniquely its own. The pastry is baked with cinnamon and, for an extra-sweet touch, can also include raisins or chocolate. It’s particularly popular in Hamburg. (Hamburg knows what’s up.)
Breakfast Pastry Contender: Italy
The Italian cornetti is also inspired by the French croissant, but contains less butter than its counterpart and is often filled with custard or jam.
Surprise, surprise: Italians love to add caffeine to the mix, too. Cornetto e caffè pairs the morning pastry with a cappuccino or espresso to get the day started right.
Breakfast Pastry Contender: Portugal
Portugal’s croissant differentiates itself with an eggy custard. The dough is also heavy, more akin to a brioche, rather than soft and airy.
In fact, despite being called a croissant, it’s not really all that croissant-like outside of its distinctive shape.
And the Winner Is: France
Could we really crown any other victor but France, home of the magnificent croissant?
When made properly, the yeasted, laminated dough of a croissant takes three hours to complete and needs no embellishment with cinnamon or other spices. And while folks have tried to improve on the base recipe — including, in the U.S., the croissant-doughnut hybrid known as the cronut — simplicity rules here.
You just can’t improve on perfection.
Who Makes Europe’s Best Beer?
Beer traditions abound in Europe, with countries across the continent treating brew-making and drinking as something akin to a sacred ritual.
Appealingly, though brewing in Europe dates back to the Middle Ages, that doesn’t mean it’s stuck in the past. Some of the most acclaimed, inventive craft breweries of the modern era are in European nations.
So, which countries rise to the top of the pack? Our contenders are: the Czech Republic, Belgium, the Netherlands, the UK, Ireland and Germany.
Beer Contender: Czech Republic
The Czech Republic touts the highest per-capita beer consumption not just in Europe, but in the entire world, at 142.4 liters (or 37.6 gallons) per capita. So yeah, Czechs really like their beer.
This is also the nation that graced us with pilsner, the first blond lager ever made, which originated in the Czech city of Pilzen in 1842. Light, mildly sweet and extremely drinkable, this brew has since become one of the most beloved around the world. (For very good reason.)
Beer Contender: Belgium
Known for its plethora of abbey-style beers (ales, sours, triples, dubbels, farmhouse ales, saisons…), Belgium counts more than 200 active breweries and saw its beer culture inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List of Intangible Culture in 2016.
Even Trappist monks make beer here, donating their profits to charities.
Beer Contender: Netherlands
The Netherlands pairs a strong tradition of lentebier, witbier and bokbier with some of the biggest names in the brew-making scene: Heineken, Amstel and Grolsch. All three of those companies focus on light, crisp lagers, the national specialty.
The country also touts a booming craft-beer industry, particularly in Amsterdam.
Beer Contender: UK
The UK is now making way beside its traditional ales for newer craft breweries, including the renowned Scottish BrewDog and English Brew By Numbers.
This is also a nation where drinking beer is indelible to the culture. Even those who don’t like beer tend to make their way to a British pub, for the ambiance if nothing else. (And, yes, the beer is great too.)
Beer Contender: Ireland
Ireland has long been synonymous with Guinness. And trust us: If you’ve never tried Guinness in Ireland, you’ve never really tried Guinness. Served straight from the tap at the Dublin Guinness factory or a local pub, this stout’s richness and potent flavors are next level.
But the country is about more than its famous native brew: It also boasts a long tradition of excellent red ales, which get their unusual hue from roasted barley.
Beer Contender: Germany
Germany is a rather unique case, as its brewing traditions run deep but seldom allow for much creativity, given the pressure of the German Beer Purity Law that states only hops, barley, water and yeast may be used. Nevertheless, the nation has opened up to welcome newer craft breweries alongside its more traditional producers of weisse, alt and bock beers.
The country is also, of course, home to the most famous beer festival on Earth: Oktoberfest, which welcomes more than 6 million brew-imbibing revelers each year.
And the Winner Is: Belgium
While it’s tempting to give this prize to the founders of the best-known beer festival in the world, we have to go with Belgium on this one.
With several beer festivals, traditional dishes incorporating beer and upwards of 1,000 beers, it's safe to say Belgium is a country that welcomes beer-o-philes.
Who Makes Europe’s Best Fried Potatoes?
Is there anything more delicious than a fried potato? Europe certainly doesn’t think so: You’ll find them across the continent. And while Americans know the French fry best, there are many fried-potato specialities available to try.
Here, we pick the best from our finalists: France, Belgium, Spain, Switzerland and Bulgaria.
Fried Potatoes Contender: France
While France doesn’t truly lay claim to its eponymous French fry (that’s an honor we have to bestow on Belgium, though the UK is also known for its thicker, chunkier chip), it is home to a delicious fried-potato dish: Lyonnaise potatoes, a combination of sliced pan-fried potatoes, onions, butter and parsley.
Fried Potatoes Contender: Belgium
How did fries come to be associated with France if, it's believed, they're likely from Belgium? It's been reported that, during World War I, American soldiers thought they were in France when they were first introduced to the fries, because they heard people speaking French. But they were actually in Belgium, part of which speaks French. Just like that, a misnomer was born.
Belgium not only invented the double-frying technique that gives fries their fantastic texture, but also traditionally uses tallow rather than oil to add even more flavor to the mix. Belgian-style fries are usually served with a side of mayonnaise, for even more fat (er… flavor).
Fried Potatoes Contender: Spain
Spain’s patatas bravas are a popular tapa, served with a spiced mayonnaise or tomato-based sauce. As with the other dishes on this list, the key here is to make the potatoes just the right amount of crispy — and Spanish tapas bars get this right basically every time.
Fried Potatoes Contender: Switzerland
In Switzerland, what many consider to be the national dish is a potato-based fritter known as a rösti. Made of grated potato shaped into a disk and then pan-fried, rösti is often topped with bacon, onion cheese or herbs.
Fried Potatoes Contender: Bulgaria
A similar dish to Switzerland’s rösti is made in Bulgaria: patatnik. But it’s flavored instead with mild local mint, a bold and appealing enough twist to earn it a spot in the competition.
And the Winner Is: Belgium
No dish has had more international impact than the “French” fry, so Belgium wins again.
The best way to order Belgian fries? In a cone, so you can enjoy them as you explore the beautiful country.
Who Makes Europe’s Best Chocolate?
Chocolate is not native to Europe — it was first produced in present-day Mexico as early as 1900 BC — but many European nations have a rich (pun intended) chocolate tradition, including Spain, which brought the cacao bean back from the New World.
Over time, however, several other countries have become more revered for their chocolate candies. We’ve narrowed down the creme de la creme list to a truly sweet mix: France, Belgium and Switzerland.
Chocolate Contender: Switzerland
Switzerland is often hailed as the chocolate capital of Europe. Not only has it been a top chocolate producer since the 17th century, but it is credited with the invention of milk chocolate. And it's home to some of the top names in the global chocolate industry, including Nestle, Toblerone and Lindt.
While it is certainly a top exporter of chocolate, today more than half of Swiss chocolate is consumed by the Swiss themselves. And really, can you blame them?
Chocolate Contender: France
French chocolatiers are known for their delicate dipped-chocolate bonbons. Generally made with dark chocolate, these bonbons have a thinner chocolate shell than their Belgian counterparts, and are often so gorgeously crafted you almost don’t want to eat them.
Sweet shops in France also sell divine chocolate bars and truffles, often equally beautiful.
Chocolate Contender: Belgium
Belgium’s bonbons are usually heftier than France’s thanks to the local invention of filled chocolate, a technique that allows two halves of a bonbon to be sealed around a rich center.
Belgium also lays claim to the invention of the praline — a sweet combination of nuts and sugar that forms the center of so many chocolate candies.
This is also the country that gave us Godiva. Thanks, Belgium!
And the Winner Is: Switzerland
It’s tempting to call this one a draw.
Belgium invented pralines and dominates when it comes to chocolate shops, with more than 2,000 to its name; Switzerland invented milk chocolate and eats the most chocolate per capita in the world — 10 kilos (or about 22 pounds) per person every year.
But delve a little bit deeper, and a winner emerges. While the praline was certainly invented in Belgium in 1012, the man who did it, apothecary Jean Neuhaus, was, in fact, Swiss.
This tips the scales, just barely, in favor of Switzerland.
Who Makes Europe's Best Pancakes?
Pancakes seem simple; the basic ingredient list, after all, features only flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, butter, milk (or buttermilk) and eggs. But in Europe, thanks to the variety of shapes and flavors they come in, pancakes are anything but basic.
In the battle for best pancake, our competitors are: France, the UK, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Austria and Poland. This one’s a particularly tough call.
Pancake Contender: France
Perhaps the most famous type of pancake is the very thin French crêpe. Folded around sweet fillings like chocolate, jam or lemon and sugar, crêpes are the perfect homestyle dessert, but they can also be dressed up, as with the Grand Marnier-flambéed crêpes Suzette.
A savory buckwheat-based galette, meanwhile, can be filled with egg, ham, cheese, mushrooms...or pretty much anything else you can imagine!
Pancake Contender: UK
England's pancakes are quite dissimilar to the fluffy American dish that bears the same name: What Brits call a pancake is only slightly thicker than a French crêpe and is a popular dessert to serve on Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras, colloquially dubbed Pancake Day in the UK.
But Britain also boasts a pancake similar to the American iteration: Scotch pancakes or drop scones, made with buttermilk and cooked on a griddle. Smaller than American pancakes, they are usually topped with jam and cream.
Oh, and Britain also boasts English muffins, cooked on a griddle before being split and spread with butter and jam, and savory Yorkshire pudding, the perfect side to a Sunday roast, with its eggy, custardy texture.
Pancake Contender: Netherlands
In the Netherlands, crêpe-like pannekoeken can be served with either a sweet or savory filling. And while the Dutch baby isn't actually Dutch (lies!), the Netherlands does lay claim to popover-textured poffertjes — tiny, fluffy pancakes made in a special pan and served sprinkled with powdered sugar.
Pancake Contender: Denmark
In Denmark, a dish similar to poffertjes is called Æbleskiver. Made with wheat flour and buttermilk, the dish's flavorings — often cardamom, lemon zest or apple — make it sing.
Pancake Contender: Austria
Austrian kaisershmarrn is a sweet dessert popular throughout the former Austro-Hungarian empire. This fluffy pancake is shredded with two forks and mixed with powdered sugar, rum-soaked raisins and jam, because as we all know, there’s no such thing as too sweet.
Pancake Contender: Poland
Stuffed Polish racuchy are made from a yeasted dough and pan-fried in oil; they are usually sweet, stuffed with apples and topped with powdered sugar and cream.
Blintzes, which are of Hungarian origin, are also popular in Poland. Actually, you’ll find them eaten by Jewish families around the world, stuffed with cheese, berries or other fillings.
And the Winner Is: UK
For sheer variety, the prize has to go to the UK. Boasting sweet and savory iterations that can be served at breakfast, lunch or dinner, Britain's pancakes, drop scones, Yorkshire puddings and English muffins truly take the (pan)cake.
Who Makes Europe’s Best Dumplings?
What qualifies as a “dumpling,” you ask? Quite a lot of foods, actually.
Dumplings are typically pieces of dough wrapped around a filling, which can include everything from cheese, fish, meat and veggies to fruits and sweets. But some dumplings don’t actually have any filling at all. And the dough itself can also vary: It can be bread-based, flour-based or potato-based.
In any case, dumplings are pretty much universally amazing. While Asia is arguably the dumpling capital of the world, Europe makes its share of mean dumplings, particularly in the following countries: Hungary, Slovakia, Germany, Poland and Lithuania.
Dumpling Contender: Hungary
The simplest dumplings are also among the best: bread dumplings. Popular in Hungarian cuisine, plain steamed dumplings are ideal for serving alongside saucy stews to soak up all those flavors.
Plum dumplings, too, are popular throughout Hungary (and indeed, the entire former Austro-Hungarian Empire). Made with a potato-based dough, these dumplings are stuffed with purple plums and can be served either as a savory side dish or a sweet dessert.
It’s worth noting that these dishes are popular in the Czech Republic as well, another worthy contender. (Too many dumplings, too little time…)
Dumpling Contender: Slovakia
Slovakia’s national dish is Bryndzové halušky — gnocchi-esque potato dumplings made with the creamy sheep cheese the country is known for, then sprinkled with roasted bacon.
Believe it or not, this is even better than it sounds.
Dumpling Contender: Germany
Halušky dumplings are not dissimilar to German spaetzle, which is also egg-based and often topped with cheese and bacon — in this case, mildly sharp emmental cheese is popular.
Germany additionally touts excellent versions of knodel (in German, “knodel” translates to “dumpling”). One of the best varieties is semmelknödel, made from day-old bread rolls that are soaked in warm milk. Onion, parsley and a dash of nutmeg provide the perfect seasoning.
Dumpling Contender: Poland
Polish drop dumplings can be made with either grated or mashed potato, and often also include butter and caramelized onion. They’re nothing fancy, but in the best possible way.
Poland also touts uszka, adorably small dumplings (the names literally means “little ears”) typically filled with mushrooms, minced meat or both.
But the real star of the Poland dumpling show is undoubtedly pierogi. Boiled and pan-fried before being served with a topping of bacon and sour cream, these dumplings have become beloved around the world for extremely good reason.
Dumpling Contender: Lithuania
Lithuanian cepelinai are also called zeppelin dumplings, because their ovoid shape resembles the Zeppelin airship. These potato-starch dumplings are filled with meat, cheese or mushrooms, then topped with sour cream for good measure.
Try them, and you’ll see why they’re considered Lithuania’s national dish.
And the Winner Is: Poland
Poland takes the prize here — not just for sheer variety, but also for the popularity of its most famous dumpling, the pierogi.
This traditional food is evolving and changing in Poland, with local chefs experimenting with new flavors like spinach-and-feta, tofu and even duck-and-apricot, a combo that took the prize at the 2016 Krakow Pierogi Festival.
Who Makes Europe’s Best Cheese and Potatoes Dish?
The combo of cheese and potatoes is a classic, and in Europe, many countries have put their spin on the ultimate comfort-food staple. (After all, why have one of the best foods on Earth, when you can have two at the same time?)
The four countries that do it best are: Switzerland, France, the UK and Sweden. But only one nation does it best of all...
Cheese and Potatoes Contender: Switzerland
In Switzerland, local Alpine cheeses are combined with potatoes to make fried rosti and also raclette, a specialty enjoyed on both the Swiss and French sides of the Alps.
To make a raclette, the eponymous cheese is heated over an open fire (or on a special contraption made for this purpose). The cheese is then scraped (racler, in French) over piles of potatoes, pickles and charcuterie.
Perfect for serving to a crowd, raclette is a common après-ski way to reintroduce all of the calories you just burned on the slopes.
Cheese and Potatoes Contender: France
France boasts not only raclette, but tartiflette, a baked dish of Reblochon cheese, potatoes and bacon.
Plus, the French Auvergne region is known for two potato-and-cheese specialties: aligot and truffade. The former is made with mashed potatoes, into which a large quantity of tomme-style cheese is worked for a stretchy consistency; the latter is similar, though it is made with sliced rather than puréed potatoes. As for which is better...who could possibly decide?
Cheese and Potatoes Contender: UK
In Britain, chips and cheese is a common order at fish and chip shops. Far from haute cuisine, this combo of hot chips sprinkled with grated cheese is nevertheless tough to turn your nose up at.
Britain is also home to the jacket potato, which can be customized according to the diner's desire. And for our money, it’s best served with a healthy dose of cheddar.
Cheese and Potatoes Contender: Sweden
In Sweden, Hasselback potatoes unite the best elements of a potato chip and a baked potato: thin slices create crispy layers, perfect for catching a variety of toppings, including cheese.
And the Winner Is: France
This one’s going to France…thanks to a shared border. While France’s Auvergnat offerings are already great, its Alpine region inherits some of Francophone Switzerland's best dishes, and for that, we are eternally, er, grate-ful.
Who Makes Europe’s Best Hand Pies?
Smaller than calzones, larger than raviolis, hand pies can be found throughout Europe. At turns savory and sweet, the best hand pies are made in a diverse mix of places: Spain, Italy, Finland, the UK, Crimea and Greece.
Hand Pies Contender: Spain
While Latin American empanadas may be more famous, their Spanish forefathers — stuffed with shellfish, fish or meats — can be found all over the country, including Asturias and Cantabria.
But it’s the community of Galicia, in northwest Spain, that arguably does empanadas best of all. The hand pies, which are particularly tasty when stuffed with pork loin, are served in restaurants and taverns throughout the region, and are staples of the street-food scene as well.
Hand Pies Contender: Italy
Experts agree that empanadas were a likely inspiration for Sicilian ‘mpanatigghi, filled with a sweet-and-savory combo of meat, almonds, walnuts, chocolate and baking spices.
Italy also boasts panzerotti, common in the central and southern regions of the country. Filled with tomato and mozzarella, like a pizza, or with other fillings like spinach, mushrooms or ham, panzerotti are usually fried rather than baked.
Sounds good to us!
Hand Pies Contender: Finland
Karelian pasties are popular in Finland. Traditionally made with a rye crust, they are usually filled with barley, potato or rice. They're so cherished, they enjoy protected Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG) status by the EU.
You can also find superb versions of these pies in Estonia and northern Russia.
Hand Pies Contender: UK
In Britain, Scottish Bridies and Cornish pasties are exemplary examples of hand pies. The traditional Cornish pasty is filled with beef, potato, rutabaga and onion, but varieties like steak-and-stilton, cheese-and-onion and pork-and-apple are popular as well. Really, you can’t go wrong.
Hand Pies Contender: Crimea
Throughout the Crimean Peninsula, as well as other parts of Eastern Europe, folks fill borek dough with a thin layer of ground beef or lamb and deep-fry it to make chebureki. Similar to samosa, it makes for a wonderful street food throughout the region.
Hand Pies Contender: Greece
In Greece, phyllo-based pastries are common. The undisputed standout is the individually-sized spanakopita, filled with spinach and feta cheese, as well as onions, egg and seasoning. It’s flaky perfection.
And the Winner Is: UK
The UK has to win this one for sheer variety. In addition to steak-and-onion Bridies and excellent pasties, Britain is home to sausage rolls, pork pies and mutton-based Scotch pies.
In the 19th century, a part-savory, part-sweet pasty became popular among miners, who would stuff half of their pasty with a savory filling and half of the pasty with a dessert filling. Pasties are such a popular part of Cornish cuisine that it has given rise to a popular joke that the devil himself was afraid to cross over to Cornwall for fear that he'd end up in a pasty.