Regensburg Bratwurst sausages may be renowned German fare, but what else is there?
German cuisine and French cuisine may be neighbours geographically, but they’re a long way apart in character. Whilst Germany’s Oktoberfest and beer festivals are famous around the world, its food unfortunately does not enjoy the same reputation. Germany’s cuisine is actually very region-based and varies according to geographical factors and access to waterways for transportation.
Overwhelmed by the Portions?
Many, many years ago, my brother visited the Munich Oktoberfest and his main food mission was to try the pork knuckles that he’d heard so much about. As someone who loved his food and could eat a lot, he was overwhelmed by the portions served at the festival. His description of the size of the plate and how he was defeated by the heap of food on it left an everlasting impression on me. As a result, my sterotype impression of German cuisine is that its full of meat, stodgy and fatty. So, is there more to German cuisine than sauerkraut, bratwurst and schnitzel?
One thing the Germans are really good at is making excellent breads and this is Tony’s favourite country for breakfasts. Breakfast is usually a hearty affair and there is a great variety of breads to choose from, accompanied by cheese, sausages and fruit preserves, including marmalade.
Salads and soups are popular at lunchtime. Most cafes or restaurants would offer an excellent salad or a bowl of filling soup for lunch or a special fixed-price menu. Popular soups include the Linsensuppe (a lentil soup which, when served with sausages, makes a satisfying lunch), the Leberknodelsuppe (a Bavarian specialty which is a clear consomme served with liver dumplings) or the Kartoffelsuppe (a creamy, marjoram flavoured potato soup which is served with slices of sausage).
Salting, smoking, curing or pickling – it’s your choice!
In the earlier centuries, due to the lack of refrigeration, it was traditional to preserve foodstuffs through salting, smoking, curing or pickling. The Germans appear to like this form of food preparation and it is still a common way of preparing fish, meats and vegetables. Examples of popular German dishes like Sauerbraten (roast beef cured in vinegar and wine), Schwartenbraten (roast pork served with sauerkraut and bread dumplings), Matjes (pickled herring), or Sauerkraut illustrate this style of food preparation.
German cuisine is among the best comfort foods in the world
The Germans claim that from bratwurst to beer and sauerkraut to spaetzle, its cuisine is among the best comfort foods in the world, with ‘comfort foods’ being the operative words. Food is a very personal taste and for me, I believe that fresh is best! Some people though could live on bratwurst, like our travel companions who couldn’t wait to get off the boat at Regensburg so that they could dig into their bratwurst.
Today, Germans still fall back on their rich heritage, serving wild game, lamb, pork and beef with old and new ways of preparing them as well as their side dishes. Popular spices used are mustard, horseradish and juniper berries.
Newer, lighter menus – but hearty meat dishes are still the popular choice
Modern German chefs have started to create newer, lighter fare, incorporating traditional foods into their menus. I may be wrong, but my sense is that the vast majority still prefer their hearty meat dishes in thick sauces, wurst, pork knuckle and various types of dumplings.
As for deserts, we all know of the famous Black Forest cake and at afternoon coffee you’ll see a wide selection of popular German treats like the fruit tarts, cheesecake, plum or cherry cakes.