Pork, beef, and poultry are the main varieties of meat consumed in Germany, with pork being the most popular meat eaten by German people. Seafood traditionally was restricted to the northern coastal areas, except for pickled herring, often served as Rollmops (a pickled herring fillet rolled into a cylindrical shape around a piece of pickled gherkin or onion). Today many sea fish, like fresh herring, tuna, mackerel, salmon and sardines are well established throughout the country. Prior to the industrial revolution and the ensuing pollution of the rivers, salmon were common in the rivers of Rhine, Elbe, and Oder.
Noodles, made from wheat flour and egg, are usually thicker than the Italian flat pasta. Especially in the southwestern part of the country, the predominant variety of noodles are spätzle, made with large amounts of egg yolk, and maultaschen, traditional stuffed noodles reminiscent of ravioli.
Next to noodles, potatoes are very common in German households. Potatoes entered the German cuisine in the late 18th century, and were almost ubiquitous in the 19th century and since. Potatoes most often are boiled (in salt water, Salzkartoffeln), but mashed (Kartoffelpüree) and fried potatoes (Bratkartoffeln) also are traditional. French fries, called Pommes frites or Pommes in German, are a common style of fried potatoes; they are traditionally offered with either ketchup or mayonnaise, or, as pommes rot-weiß, with both.
Also very common, especially in the south of Germany, are dumplings (including klöße or knödel) and potato noodles including schupfnudel which is similar to Italian gnocchi.
My Family comes from the Southern part of Germany, Baden-Würtemberg, also known as Swabia. Food in Baden-Würtemberg is world renowned and is often described as very hearty and rich in tradition. Recipes have been handed down from generation to generation. They often only include a few ingredients or they are a combination of multiple recipes. Important in in that reagion is cooking is pasta (such as Spätzle and Maultaschen). Variations of fresh pasta are served as main dishes as well as side dishes. Either way they are never eaten dry – a hearty sauce, broth, or at least some melted butter is a must! The Swabians are known as “Wet Eaters”. Almost every food must be dunked, crumbled, or covered in a sauce or broth. No soup is eaten without bread to dunk; no roast is acceptable without a good covering of sauce.
Bread is served usually for breakfast and in the evening as sandwiches, but rarely as a side dish for the main meal. The importance of bread (Brot) in German cuisine is also illustrated by words such as Abendbrot (meaning supper, literally Evening Bread) and Brotzeit (snack, literally Bread Time). In fact, one of the major complaints of the German expatriates in many parts of the world is their inability to find acceptable local breads.
Germany’s most popular breads are:
1. Rye-wheat (“Roggenmischbrot”)
2. Toast bread (“Toastbrot”)
3. Whole-grain (“Vollkornbrot”)
4. Wheat-rye (“Weizenmischbrot”)
5. White bread (“Weißbrot”)
6. Multi-grain, usually wheat-rye-oats with sesame or linseed (“Mehrkornbrot”)
7. Rye (“Roggenbrot”)
8. Sunflower seeds in dark rye bread (“Sonnenblumenkernbrot”)
9. Pumpkin seeds in dark rye bread (“Kürbiskernbrot”)
10. Roasted onions in light wheat-rye bread (“Zwiebelbrot”)
I just love the Swabian food (excllent Potatoe salad, Leberkäse, roast, hand made Spätzle and so on, but my absolutely favourite dish is “Maultaschen”:
Although there are several theories describing the invention of the Maultaschen, the most popular story dates the dish to the 17th century. The story goes that a monk from the Maulbronn Monestary received a large piece of meat during Lent. To prepare a meal that appeared to be meat-free, the monk chopped the meat up finely then mixed it with spinach and herbs. He then hid the filling in small pieces of pasta dough. The new invention was called “Maulbronn Nudeltaschen”. Later the name was shortened to Maultaschen.
Historically, Maultaschen were considered a poor-people food. It was an economical and creative way to use left-overs, dried-out bread, and not-so-fresh vegetables. Today, however, it is served in many restaurants and enjoyed throughout Germany and in many other countries.
Maultaschen are stuffed pasta, similar to ravioli. They are made from a pasta dough and various kinds of filling
The traditional filling is made from bacon, onions, spinach, crumbled Bratwurst and/or ground beef, bread crumbs, parsley, eggs, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. The dough is a basic pasta dough, made from flour, eggs, and water. Maultaschen are usually shaped into a square or rectangular shape. Maultaschen that are added to soups are called Suppenmaultaschen (Soup Maultaschen) and are smaller in size.
Maultaschen are cooked either in boiling water or in a broth. Once fully cooked, they can either be eaten as is or browned in a pan with a little butter. The classic Swabian way to cook and serve Maultaschen is in a beef broth
•Spinach, fresh or frozen — 1 pound
•Butter or oil — 2 tablespoons
•Onion, minced — 1/2
•Ground beef — 1 cup
•Good quality bread, soaked in milk or water — 3-4 slices
•Eggs, beaten — 3-4
•Nutmeg — 1/4 teaspoon
•Salt and pepper — to taste
•Wonton wrappers, square or round — 1 package
•Egg, beaten with a little water — 1
1.If using fresh spinach, bring a pot of water to a boil. Drop in the spinach and blanch for 1-2 minutes. Drain the spinach in a colander and squeeze out as much excess liquid as possible. Then chop finely. If using frozen spinach, simply thaw, squeeze out the liquid in a colander and chop finely.
2.Heat the butter or oil in a sauté pan over medium heat and sauté the onions until translucent. Add the ground beef and sauté until just cooked through, breaking it up as it cooks. Drain any excess oil and allow to cool.
3.Mix the spinach and ground beef mixture together in a large bowl. Drain the bread and squeeze it dry. Crumble the bread into the bowl and add the eggs, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Mix or knead the filling to form a paste.
4.Place 1-2 teaspoons of the filling in the middle of a wonton wrapper, moisten the edges with a little of the egg-water mixture. Fold the wrapper in two and press down on the edges to seal. Repeat with the remaining filling and wrappers, laying them on a baking sheet as they are finished.
5.Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the finished maultaschen and cook for 8-10 minutes. Drain and serve topped with bread crumbs toasted in melted butter or in a bowl with a little beef or chicken broth.