POPSUGAR Food

Eat Your Way Through Germany

Oct 5 2012 - 2:46pm

Oktoberfest is in full force [1] for the 179th year in a row, and while it may not be feasible to fly to Munich right now, you can still bring a bit of Germany to your dinner plate. As I discovered on my recent trip to Deutschland [2] with the German Wine Institute, the country is full of rich culinary traditions, many of which have made their way to the rest of the world. Take a look at some of Germany's most iconic food and drink specialties.

Wurst

Wurst, or sausage, is everywhere, especially pork sausage. Many, like the one pictured here, are eaten simply: they're served hot with a slice of bread and senf (mustard) that's usually done in the mittelscharf, or medium-hot, style.

Beer

Along with the Czech Republic, Germany leads the world in beer consumption. Chalk it up to all the nation's great beer styles, from weissbier (wheat beer) to märzen, the most renowned lager of Munich's Oktoberfest.

Pretzels!

Our tradition of eating soft, warm pretzels [3] out of hand actually comes from Germany, where salted bretzeln are served just about everywhere as a convenient snack.

Frankfurters and Potato Salad

Kartoffelsalat, or potato salad, comes in many varieties. Unlike the potato salad Americans know, this variety is usually made without mayonnaise. In Frankfurt, it's filled with a mustardy flavor, topped with chives, and served alongside — what else? — Frankfurter sausages.

Riesling

When it comes to wine, Riesling rules. It's the dominant varietal, and for good reason: thanks to Germany's limestone and sandstone soils, you're likely to find the perfect balance of fruitiness and minerality.

Marmorkuchen

Forget shredded wheat with milk. Germans love marmorkuchen, a bundt cake marbled with chocolate and vanilla, for breakfast, especially on the weekends. If you're lucky, it'll be covered in couverture chocolate and dusted with a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

Pork Knuckle

If the term "pork knuckle" repulses you, that's probably because you've never encountered it in Germany. Among the Germans, it's known as schweinshaxe, and it's cooked on a spit until it's succulent on the inside and crisp and crunchy on the outside. Locals serve it with sauerkraut.

Mirabelle Brandy

Mirabellenwasser, brandy distilled from the small mirabelle [4] plum, is popular among German drinkers. Beware: the eau de vie has an inviting, floral scent but truly packs a punch.

Weisswurst

This exceptionally creamy sausage, which is known as Müncher weisswurst (Munich white sausage), is all over Bavaria. The delicacy comes with a few strings attached: it should always be eaten with the skin removed, and it isn't consumed before noontime.

Apfelwein

Frankfurters love their apple wine, or apfelwein, which tastes like a cross between — you guessed it! — wine and apple cider. It's served in a special glass at apfelweinkneipe, or cider bars.

Baumkuchen

The ringed, hollow cake known as baumkuchen is popular in many countries around the world but likely originated in Germany. The name, which translates to "log cake," corresponds with the cake's shape, which it gets from being cooked on a spit. It's then topped with chocolate or icing.

Landjäger

Aside from pretzels, the other ultimate snack food is landjäger, a smoked and semidried beef and pork sausage that's easy to eat while hiking or on the go.

Stewed Beef With Frankfurt Green Sauce

OK, so it doesn't sound as great in English, but tafelspitz mit Frankfurter grüner sosse is actually a hit in parts of Germany like Frankfurt and Hesse. Slow-cooked beef gets brightened up, thanks to a lively sauce made from fresh herbs like sorrel, borage, watercress, chives, and parsley; then it's served with potatoes and sometimes eggs.

Black Forest Cherry Torte

What's known as black forest cake in the States is referred to as Schwarzwälder kirschtorte in Germany, where it's a specialty of the region of Baden. Contrary to popular belief, the dessert is not named for the forest mountain range but rather Schwarzwälder kirsch, a Southwest German specialty liquor.

Saumagen

Scotland has haggis, but that's nothing on the Rheinland-Palatinate's saumagen, made of pork's stomach and filled with pork, potatoes, vegetables, and spices.

Spaetzle

These handmade egg noodles are a seminal part of German cuisine. Here, they're served in a dish known as käsespätzle, or spaetzle mixed with emmenthaler cheese and topped with fried onions.


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