Germany is a country bounded by seas and Denmark on the north, by Poland and the Czech Republic on the east, by Austria and Switzerland on the south, and by France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands on the west (Encyclopedia of the Nations – Europe, par. 16). Because of this, traditional German food varies from one region to another. For example, the region of Bavaria shares many dishes with the countries of Switzerland and Austria down south. But despite the diversity, traditional German cuisine is bound together by its partiality toward breads, meats and strong drinks.
A typical German breakfast consists of bread, toast, and/or bread rolls with honey, marmalade or jam, eggs, and strong coffee or tea. Deli meats, such as ham, salted meats and salami, are also commonly eaten on bread in the morning, as are various cheeses (German cuisine, par. 4). Bread is definitely a major part of a German’s eating habits. And one example of a very popular German bread is pumpernickel.
This bread is wholly made of rye (whole rye berries, rye flour, rye meal) which accounts for its dark color and slightly sweet taste. Unlike other breads, it is not baked but steamed. In Germany, no coloring agents are used in making pumpernickel. This is very unlike the ones made in America where bakers add coffee, cocoa powder, molasses, or other darkening agents.
After breakfast is, of course, lunch. And for Germans, this is the main meal of the day and is eaten around noon. Unlike breakfast, bread is not the heart of this meal. Usually, lunch consists of a meat dish, vegetable stews, and side dishes. Throughout Germany, meat is eaten in sausage form or what is known as “wurst”. Internationally, the most popular of which is Bratwurst which is made of beef, pork or veal.
Bratwurst and other cooked sausages can be found in der Schnellimbiss, takeaway food stalls, everywhere and can be eaten as either quick snacks or main meals (Traditional meals, par. 2). Aside from being made into sausages, meats in Germany are cooked pot-roasted. A popular German pork dish is the schnitzel. It is usually termed as “pork cutlets” and is made up of thinly sliced veal with flour, egg, and bread crumb coating. It is then pan fried and traditionally served with potato salad and a slice of lemon.
For vegetable dishes, the main star is Sauerkraut or pickled cabbage. It is composed of finely sliced cabbage which is fermented by various lactic acid bacteria. This gives the dish its characteristic sour flavor. Sauerkraut is usually served as a side dish to meat preparations but can also be eaten alone. Aside from cabbage, asparagus is another popular vegetable used in German cuisine.
The white asparagus or what is known as spargel is very much enjoyed as a side dish or as a main meal. There are even times that German restaurants will make an entire menu based on spargel! This usually happens during late spring which is spargel season (the month before St. John’s Day). If you are curious why German asparagus are white, it’s because German farmers intentionally made it so. They plant the asparagus covered in soil to prevent photosynthesis. Without photosynthetic pigments, plants cannot reflect green light, hence the white color of spargel.
Another popular vegetable is potatoes, but Germans don’t consider it as a vegetable even though it is a major part of their diet. Potatoes are usually eaten as side dishes. It is often served boiled in salt water. Mashed and fried potatoes are also part of the traditional German cuisine. And now, even french fries are very common. The most popular side dish made from potatoes is Klöße. These are dumplings made of mashed and/or grated raw potatoes, or with dried bread plus milk and egg yolks Klöße are cooked like pasta, and if you have it, you can serve it instead of potatoes as the side dish.
So far we’ve covered traditional German breakfast and lunch, now comes dinner. In Germany, they have this saying, “Eat like an emperor at breakfast, like a king at lunch, and like a beggar at dinner.” Dinner has been traditionally a smaller meal for Germans, often consisting only of a variety of breads and meats, or just sandwiches. Nowadays, however, dinner has become a big affair.
Often, hot vegetable stews are served which has been left to cook slowly the whole day. The secret to a perfectly-cooked pot of soup or stew is the slow simmering process, one of the most ancient methods of cooking. By simmering the ingredients slowly in the broth or stock, the various flavors are gradually extracted and blended together (Warming One Pot Wonders, par. 2). Examples of German stews are Gaisburger Marsch and Schnüsch. The former is a traditional Swabian beef stew while the latter is a stew made of ham, potatoes and vegetables cooked in roux.
After each meal comes a variety of desserts. Cakes and tarts made with fresh fruits in season are usually served. Cheesecake is also very popular as are German doughnuts which have no hole! These doughnuts are usually balls of dough with jam or other fillings inside. Strudel, a type of pastry, is also associated with German cuisine but in reality, it originated in the Habsburg Empire (Austrian). It is made from flour with a high gluten content, little fat (butter) and no sugar. The most popular kind is Apple Strudel. Another type of German dessert is Eierkuchen which are large and thin pancakes. They are served covered with sugar, jam, syrup, etc. Salty variants with cheese and bacon also exist.
Last, but not the least, are the well-known German drinks. All over Germany are beers with different compositions, flavors, etc. Different localities even brew their own unique beer! Predominant now is the variety known as Pilsener, Pilsner or Pils. It is a pale lager with its color very light up to a golden yellow. It also has a distinct hop aroma and flavour. If there’s a pale lager, there’s also a dark one known as Schwarzbier or “black beer” (from East Germany). It has a black color with full, chocolate or coffee flavor.
“Encyclopedia of the Nations – Europe.” Encyclopedia of the Nations. 2007. Advameg Inc.13 Jan. 2008. <http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/Europe/index.html>.“German cuisine.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. 13 Jan. 2008.<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_food>.“Traditional meals.” german steps – cultural notes. 13 Jan. 2008.<http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/german/lj/cultural_notes/meals.shtml>.“Warming One Pot Wonders – German Soups and Stews.” GermanFoods.org. 13 Jan. 2008.<http://www.germanfoods.org/consumer/index.cfm>.
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Traditional German Cuisine. (2017, Mar 05). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/traditional-german-cuisine-essay