Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Cuisine of Germany
German Cuisine varies greatly from region to region. The southern regions Bavaria and Swabia share many dishes among them and with their neighbours to the south, Switzerland and Austria. In the West, French influences are more pronounced, while the eastern parts of the country have much in common with Eastern European cuisine and there are marked Scandinavian influences in the northern coastal regions.
10.1 Bavaria (Bayern)
Traditionally, the main meal of the day is lunch, eaten around noon. Supper (Abendessen or Abendbrot) is a smaller meal, sometimes only consisting of a couple of sandwiches. However, changing working habits have forced this to be changed in recent decades; today, it is not uncommon for many Germans to eat their main meal in the evening.
Pork, beef and poultry are the main varieties of meat consumed in Germany, with pork clearly in the lead. Among poultry, chicken is most common, although duck, goose and turkey are also well-established. Game (especially boar, rabbit and venison) is also widely available around the year nowadays. Lamb and goat are available, but for the most part not very popular. Horse meat is regarded as a speciality in some regions but is generally rather frowned upon.
Meat is usually pot-roasted; pan-fried dishes exist, but these are usually imports from France. Throughout Germany, meat is very often eaten in sausage form. There are more than 1500 different types of sausage in Germany. Most famous is the Bratwurst, a pork finger sausage fried on open fire (not to be mixed up with pre-cooked wieners/franks). Today the small Free State of Thuringia is home to the best Bratwurst. Germany´s heartland enjoys a reputation for making the best meat products and sausages in Germany. In Thuringia, Bratwurst is common fast-food in the streets. Served in a roll with mustard, priced around 1.50$. But Thuringians enjoy BBQ as well. BBQ happen frequently in the summer on weekends and you can see people making Bratwurst and small seasoned steaks, Rostbrätel, in every park, even on balconies in the city.
Other famous kinds of sausages are Nuremberger Bratwürste (smaller, more seasoned), Frankfurters and Pinkelwurst in Westphalia (sausage stuffed with salted meat, heated in boiling water)
Trout is the most common freshwater fish on German menus, although pike, carp and perch are also frequently served. Seafood was traditionally restricted to the northern coastal areas -- except for the once-ubiquitous pickled herring. Nowadays many seafish like fresh herring (also as rollmops), sardine, tuna, mackerel and salmon have become well-established throughout the country. Prior to the industrial revolution and the ensuing pollution of the rivers, however, salmon was so common in the rivers Rhine, Elbe and Oder that servants complained about being served salmon too often. Freshwater fish are often served grilled.
Vegetables are often eaten in stews or vegetable soups, but can also be served as a side dish. Carrots, turnips, spinach, peas, beans and many types of cabbage are very common. Fried onions are a common addition to many meat dishes throughout the country, although they are almost unknown in Bavarian cuisine. Potatoes are usually not counted among vegetables by Germans.
Noodles are usually thicker than Italian pasta and often contain egg yolk. Especially in the southern part of the country, the predominant variety of noodles is Spätzle which contain a very large amount of yolk. In recent years, however, Italian-style pasta has very nearly supplanted the traditional varieties, and even Spätzle are often made with durum wheat and no egg yolk. Besides noodles, potatoes and dumplings (Klöße or Knödel) are very common. Potatoes entered German cuisine in the late 18th century and were almost ubiquitous in the 19th and 20th centuries, but their popularity is currently waning somewhat in favour of noodles and rice.
Beer is very common throughout all parts of Germany. In most of the country, the originally Czech Pils is predominant nowadays, whereas people in the South (especially in Bavaria) seem to prefer Lager or wheat beer. A number of regions have some special kind of local beer, for example the dark Altbier around the lower Rhine, the Kölsch of the Cologne area, which is light but like Altbier uses a more traditional brewing process than Pils, and the very weak Berliner Weisse, often mixed with fruit syrups, in Berlin.
Wine is also popular throughout the country. German wine comes predominantly from the areas along the upper and middle Rhine and its tributaries; the northern half of the country is too cold and flat to grow grapevines. Riesling and Silvaner are among the best-known varieties. Traditionally, white wine was more popular than red or rosé (except in some regions), and sweet wine more popular than dry, but both these tastes seem to be changing.
Coffee is also very common, not only for breakfast, but also accompanying a piece of cake in the afternoon. Tea is more common in the Northwest. East Frisians traditionally have their tea with cream and rock candy ("Kluntje").
Germans are unique among their neighbours in preferring strongly carbonated bottled waters to plain ones.
Spices and condiments
Mustard is a very common accompaniment to sausages and is usually very hot. In the southern parts of the country, a sweet variety of mustard is made which is almost exclusively served with Bavarian specialities such as Weißwurst and Leberkäse. Horseradish is also commonly used as a condiment.
Garlic was long frowned upon as "making you stink" and thus has never played a large role in traditional German cuisine, but it has seen a rise in popularity in recent decades due to the influence of French and Italian cuisine.
Generally, with the exception of mustard for sausages, German dishes are rarely hot and spicy — the most popular herbs are traditionally parsley, thyme, laurel and chives, the most popular spices are white pepper (used in small amounts), juniper berries and caraway. Other herbs and spices like basil, sage, oregano and hot chilli peppers have become more popular in recent times.
A wide variety of cakes and pies are prepared throughout the country, most commonly made with fresh fruit. Apples, plums, strawberries and cherries are used regularly on cakes. Cheesecake is also very popular and almost always made with cream cheese. German doughnuts are usually balls of dough with jam or other fillings inside, and are known as Berliner, Pfannkuchen or Krapfen depending on the region.
A popular dessert in northern Germany is "rote Grütze", red fruit jelly, which is cooked from currants, sweet and sour cherries and raspberries and which is served with vanilla sauce or whipped cream.
With regard to bread, German cuisine is more akin to Eastern than to Western Europe. The country boasts at least 300 different types of bread, ranging from white wheat bread to grey bread (Graubrot) and "black" (actually dark brown) rye bread (Schwarzbrot). Most types of bread contain both wheat and rye flour (hence Mischbrot, mixed bread), and often wholemeal and seeds (such as linseed, sunflower seed, or pumpkin seeds) as well. Pumpernickel, a Westphalian black bread, is not baked but steamed, and has a unique sweetish taste.
Bread is usually eaten for breakfast and as sandwiches in the evening, not as a side dish for the main meal. The importance of bread (Brot) for German cuisine is also illustrated by words such as Abendbrot (supper. literally Evening Bread) and Brotzeit (snack, literally Bread Time).
Specialities by region
- Weißwürste ('white sausages') - a speciality from Munich (München), traditionally eaten for second breakfast. Served with sweet mustard, pretzels, and wheat beer, even on working days, although companies usually set a limit on the amount of beer that may be drunk during work hours.
- Weizenbier (wheat beer)
- Knödel (dumplings made from potatoes or white bread)
- Schweinebraten (pot-roasted pork)
- Leberkäse (a type of meat pie)
- Kohl und Pinkel (kale, very slowly cooked, with bits of rather salty sausage; a typical winter dish)
- Bratwurst (Fat beef or pork sausages served grilled). The best-known sausages are from Nuremberg (Nürnberg).
- Klöße (Large dumplings made from bread dough and served with pot-roasted meats)
- Gingerbread (Lebkuchen). The most famous German gingerbread is, again, from Nuremberg.
- Green Sauce (Made from minced hardboiled eggs, oil, vinegar, and an abundant amount of seven fresh herbs. Served with boiled potatoes)
- Frankfurter sausage, a smoked sausage made from pure pork, which is eaten hot and usually accompanied by bread and mustard. Not to be confused with the american hot dog "Frankfurter"!
- Apfelwein (dialect: Ebbelwoi), wine made of apples, somewhat comparable to Cider and french Cidre
- Saumagen (Pork belly)
- Potato fritters (Reibekuchen) with black bread, apple syrup, sugar beet syrup or stewed apples
- Blood sausage (Blutwurst) crude or fried
- Hemmel on Äed (i.e. Sky and Earth) mashed potatoes with stewed apples and fried blood pudding
- Halve Hahn (i.e. Half Rooster), actually not a rooster at all but a cheese sandwich with onions, the name is based on a wordplay (Cologne)
- Rice pies, apricot pies and pear pies in Eschweiler
- Dibbelabbes (A potato hash prepared from raw grated potatoes, bacon and leeks, and baked in a Dibbe, or pot)
- Geheirote (lit. "Married ones", Potatoes and dumplings made of flour served with a creamy bacon sauce)
- Schwenker or Schwenkbraten (pork steaks, marinated in spices and onions and broiled on a grill that hangs on a chain over a wood fire)
- Maultaschen (A distant relative of Italian ravioli)
- Zwiebelkuchen (onion pie)
- Käsespätzle (Spaetzle (a kind of noodles) and fried onions gratinated with cheese)
- Thuringian Bratwurst, red to grey in color,stuffed in genuine thin pigs bowels, unlike the white Franconian variety
- dumplings made of raw potatoes
- hearty meat dishes with rich sauces
- Mutzbraten: pound (!) of pork, roasted on open birchwood fire, served with sauerkraut
- delicious cakes
Other famous dishes
- Hasenpfeffer (peppered hare)
- Schweinshaxe (pork hock)
- Spanferkel, a grilled whole young pig
- Speckpfannkuchen (large, thin pancakes with diced, fried bacon)
- Sauerkraut (pickled shredded cabbage)
- Spaetzle (hand-made noodles used extensively in southern Germany and Alsace)
- Stollen (a bread-like cake with dried citrus peel, dried fruit, nuts, and spices such as cardamom and cinnamon, usually eaten during the Christmas season as Weihnachtsstollen or Christstollen). The best-known Stollen is from Dresden and is sold at the Striezelmarkt Christmas market, which derives its name from the cake.
- Marzipan f.e. Lübeck style (widely used in Christmas specialities)
- Bratkartoffeln (fried potatoes, often with diced bacon and/or onions)
- Currywurst, warm sausage cut into slices and seasoned with ketchup and generous amounts of curry powder, usually served with French fries - a popular snack originating in early 1950s Berlin. Boiled sausage is used for this in northern Germany, Bratwurst in southern Germany.
- Kartoffelsalat (potato salad which comes in a massive amount of varietes - in a cream or mayonnaise dressing, even in meat broth, often served as a side dish to bratwurst or boiled sausages)
- Pfefferpotthast (pepper-beef stew)
With the rising influx of foreign workers after World War II, many foreign dishes have been adopted into German cuisine - Italian dishes like spaghetti and pizza have become a staple of German cuisine. Turkish immigrants have also had a considerable influence on German eating habits — döner kebab is Germany's favourite fast food, selling twice as much as the major burger chains put together. Chinese and Greek food are widely available and popular. Indian, Thai and other oriental cuisines are rapidly gaining in popularity. Many of the more expensive restaurants used to serve mostly French dishes for many decades, but they are increasingly turning to a more refined form of German cuisine since the 1990s.
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