Chew on This

5 foods Germany

September 5th, 2016

I’ve been on a low-carbohydrate diet for going on two years now, but all those good intentions evaporated when we hit Germany on vacation. From Munich, traveling on to Stuttgart and later to the German-speaking part of Switzerland, we were struck repeatedly by the quality of the breads.

Germany's beer, wine, sausage, schnitzel and cheese are also worthy of applause but on my list of favorite things, 3 out of 5 involve starch.

I'm not pretending to be any kind of German food expert, this is just a  list of foods that made the greatest impression on a traveler.

A selection of pretzels on display at a train station kiosk in Munich.

A selection of pretzels on display at a train station kiosk in Munich.

Soft pretzels: The bretzel is a food group unto itself here — flavorful and chewy (but not at all hard to chew). These pretzels are substantial in size — I saw some that were more than a foot across — and sold everywhere, including as part of a traditional Bavarian breakfast of pretzel, sausage and wheat beer. I had them with toppings including a heavy dose of pumpkin seeds, in forms such as rolls and croissants, and split to make sandwiches.

All manner of fillings in a variety of breads can be found at take-out stands all over German cities.

All manner of fillings in a variety of breads can be found at take-out stands all over German cities.

Super sandwiches: It’s possible to eat in a cafe in many parts of Germany for 10 euro ($11) or less per person (until you add beer, which it would be shame to do without). This is not bad, but given that airfare, train tickets and hotel fees have already sucked the life out of your wallet, you may want to go easy on dining. Supplement the  occasional sit-down meal with grab-and-go sandwiches, freshly prepared and tastily displayed in little stands everywhere. Train stations are loaded with them, so if you’re hopping from city to city, you’ll find them to be a great convenience, with sandwiches at 3 to 5 euro for all kinds. A popular type is a take on Italian caprese salad — mozzarella and tomatoes with pesto in place of the basil leaves.

Flammentachen, or German pizza, with ham, cheese, onions and garlic, in a cafe in Tumingen, Germany.

Flammkuchen, or German pizza, with ham, cheese, onions and garlic, in a cafe in Tumingen, Germany.

Pizza is a universal language: A game I sometimes played would be to try to decipher a menu before the server arrived to shame me with his/her perfect English (me being a typical dumb single-language American). Google told me that flammkuchen was a tart, so I ordered it expecting a tiny quiche of some kind, only to be rewarded with a footwide pizza, with a thin crust perfectly scorched in a wood-burning oven. Turns out to be a specialty of southern German and parts of France (where it is called tarte flambe). This one -- the classic -- is spread with creme fraiche and comes topped with ham and onions — speck and zweibel, words I was able to translate off the menu. So you could say I got the details right, anyway. It  was a great happy accident.

A venison and wild boar sausage served with bread and horseradish.

A venison and wild boar sausage served with bread and horseradish.

Sausage (with bread): Always easy to spot on a menu — just look for something-wurst, and don’t worry about the something part, just order and take your chances. You can also get sausage made into a salad (wurstsalat) My favorite was venison and wild boar, a fairly dry combo ordered with a red wine from a Stuttgard-area vineyard. Slept well that night. Sausage normally comes with sauerkraut or potato salad, American versions of which you’ve probably had. I’d make these side dishes top choices on their own, but I’m trying to keep this list to five.

In the average market, sausages in jars.

In the average market, sausages in jars.

 

Poha, or gooseberry, sold by the carton in a grocery store in Stuttgart.

Poha, or gooseberry, sold by the carton in a grocery store in Stuttgart.

Tropical tartness: I was so surprised to see this fruit on a breakfast buffet in Munich that I exclaimed, “Hey, that’s poha!,” words that no one around me understood. I always thought of this tart, golden berry with its parchment shroud as a rare tropical fruit. You’ll find poha jelly in Hawaii, but seldom can you find the fresh fruit. In Germany it's a called physalis (in English, gooseberry) and it's easy to find in regular supermarkets for cheap. Ate my fill.

One Response to “5 foods Germany”

  1. Doug:

    I was stationed in the suburbs of Stuttgart back in the early 60's.
    Do I miss the food: A resounding Ja !!!


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