Gastronomy in Germany

German gastronomy is an inherent part of the country’s culture and it also can tell us a lot about how the German people are in their daily life. One should not go far in order to find out that cuisine is important in the German culture – there is a house located in the forest of candies and gingerbread in the famous fairy tale called “Hansel and Gretel.” Most people have a stereotype that the German cuisine is, unlike French or Spanish, quite hearty and rich, though most of the dishes contain lots of calories. Indeed, that statement is true to some extent, yet let us have a closer look at what the German gastronomy actually is.

History of the German gastronomy

Considering the specialities of the German state’s functioning – namely, a large autonomy for regions, it is not something surprising that most of the regions significantly vary in what they eat and what are their traditional dishes. Moreover, some of the country’s regions have more common in their cuisines with the cuisines of such countries like Switzerland, Austria or Italy than actually with other regions of Germany. This makes the issue of the history of the German gastronomy a far more complicated matter.

One may begin with saying that in prehistorical times, the Germans, unlike people who populated the territories across the Mediterranean Sea, were limited in the variety of foods and ate early forms of barley and wheat. Indeed, they also had pasture land for beasts and so they produced cheese, butter, and milk from sheep, goats, and cows. From time to time, they also produced meat products out of their livestock.

German gastronomy

The German gastronomy appears to be quite rich and fatty

That kind of a lifestyle let to the popularization of food preservation through pickling, curing, smoking, or salting, and it can still be noticed in the present-day German cuisine. In regards to the drinks, the Germans had drunk solely water for a long time since the prehistorical times. Only in the year of around 10,000 BC, when the first beer had been produced, the story went in a different way (yet, read more about German beer lower).

Also, that way of life forced the Germans to seek for more spices than dill, celery, and parsley. Lots of spices had been introduced during the Roman Empire, when the Romans brought the technique of grapevines and fruit tree cultivation to Germany. Especially, one could spot an abundance of various exotic spices in the areas around the present-day Cologne.

Traditional German dishes

In the present-day German gastronomy, four ingredients occupy such an outstanding place in the cuisine that it is barely impossible to notice their importance. That is going about sausages and meat, chocolate, bread, and Kartoffeln (i.e. potatoes). And right, beer is left for the section of drinks.

  • Curry Wurst is not just a simple yet incredibly tasty dish that was invented in Berlin, but now it is popular throughout the whole country. Indeed, you will barely find a single person who has never tasted it. Basically, Curry Wurst is a pork sausage, wrapped in Darm and covered by Ketchup and curry powder. Even though the recipe seems to be quite simple, this dish is incredibly delicious.

German cuisine

Curry Wurst occupies a special place in the German cuisine and appears to be the most popular fast food product in Germany

  • Spätzle is another popular German dish, and it may be even more popular and known than Curry Wurst. Though it may seem even ridiculous that, despite the fact that the German cuisine is best known for its fattiness, Spätzle is a completely vegetarian dish. Simply put, this dish is a pasta cooked with salt, flour, eggs, and a bit of water. Typically, the Germans serve this dish a side one to meat dishes. One of the best way of serving it is pouring a large amount of cheese on the top of Spätzle.

  • Bratwurst is another sausage dish in this list. Typically, Bratwurst is a grilled sausage (or sausages) made of pork. Even though there are different types of Bratwürste that can be found in Germany, typical sausages that come from Nuremberg are thin and short. All you have to do is to buy the sausages, grill them on both sides (two minutes per side or so), place each of the sausages in a bun, add a sauce, and get to eat them.

Even though the Germans are typically mocked for their love for Kartoffeln-rich dishes, that stereotype is far from being a true one. Yet, many traditional German dishes do, indeed, contain potatoes. If you want to prepare Bratkartoffeln, one of the most popular German dishes made of potatoes, you need to boil some potatoes, then slice them up thinly, place them on a frying pan with an abundance of oil in it, add some onions and bacon, and get them fried until the slices will become crispy and dark.

Another heavy dish in this list is Leberkäse, which represents a sausage placed in an oven for quite a long time. Once it is prepared, you have to slice it up and serve with sweet moustard and white bread. It is, indeed, an exceptionally tasty, yet calorie-rish dish.

One of the best known German dishes is actually Schnitzel. Well, who has not ever heard that word? Perhaps, it is impossible. Actually, this dish is a very thinly cut piece of meat (veal). You need to cover it with bread crumbs, egg, and flour and fry it deeply in the oil on a pan. Once the sides of the dish have become golden, your Schnitzel is ready.

Drinks in the German gastronomy

It is impossible to imagine the German gastronomy without its cultivation of perfect drinks. So once the beer had been brought to Germany, the Germans started to consume it in the large amounts. Even though a modern person would think that it is crazy and why to consume beer in such quantities at all, there is a reasonable explanation: at that time, it was quite risky to drink water because of infections and its dirtiness, and so people opted to drink rather beer.

Also, we have a stereotype that the German beer is one of the best in the world. Indeed, it is truly so, but it has not been so always. In the 16th century, the Germans suffered from a poor quality of beer. So once this problem had become ubiquitious, the authorities adopted a law that obliged brewers to produce beer with containment of only four natural ingredients. This actually resulted in the high quality of the German beer that we know nowadays.

Despite the stereotypes, wine has been also consumed in Germany, yet in much lower quantities than beer. Even Martin Luther, the famous priest and reformator, wrote that he preferred wine because, whereas beer is a human-made product, wine comes from the God.

Yet, neither beer nor wine are appropriate for drinking in the morning, but the best picks are tea and coffee. Supposedly, both of these drinks had been brought to Germany in the 17th or 18th century, yet most of people could not afford to buy them. Up to the present days in Germany, it is popular to drink coffee in the morning.

Another famous drink is Schnapps, which actually means any strong alcoholic drink. Typically, Schnapps was produced at home in the forms of infusions, herbal liqueurs, and fruit brandies. The word has been known since the 18th century.

Glühwein is one of the key drinks in the German gastronomy and it literally means “heated wine.” This drink is especially popular on the Christmas Eve and in the winter season in general.

Typical German restaurants

If you want to get to know what is actually the German gastronomy, then you should attent a proper restaurant. Typically, such restaurants are fairly cozy places with on-street tables and chairs, where you can sit back and enjoy a nice, sunny weather while relishing traditional German dishes.

German restaurant

This way looks a typical German restaurant

For getting to know what is the traditional German gastronomy, you should attend the Prater Restaurant in Berlin that has serviced its clients since 1852. Big wooden tables and chairs, Bretzeln and Bratwurst on large wooden plates, and outstanding beer will let you feel like if you were in Munich. Also, you could pay a visit to the following restaurants: Das Lokal, Bullys Bakery, and Fischerhutte am Schlachtensee (all in Berlin).

Useful sources

If you crave to find out more about the German gastronomy, you can make use of the following sources:

German gastronomy on Wikipedia

About Das Lokal Restaurant

Recipes of German dishes