Travel Journal

Milford Sound, New Zealand

Exploring the World...our way

We don't just travel, we explore

 

- Vien & Hermann

  • Vien R. Guenther

What to Eat when in Germany

Updated: Feb 20, 2020

Meat and potatoes are pretty much regular staples in Germany. That is due to the country’s location - they need more calories and nutritious food to sustain their health during winter times, and potatoes and meat pretty much serve that purpose. At least that's my opinion. With an abundance of meat (pork, beef, chicken and game) - due to the country’s fertile land and ample water supply - you will find a lot of hearty foods and meat dishes in their cuisine.


Being married to a German, I'm familiar with some of the popular German foods, but that's just like scratching the surface of German cuisine. There are more delicious dishes than the popular schnitzel, sauerkraut, cabbage rolls and sausages. Here are some of the foods we had while exploring Bavaria. I'll start with cold cuts and sausages which Germans are famous for.


COLD CUTS & SAUSAGES

You will probably get overwhelmed when you see the varieties of cold cuts and sausages at the deli shops in Germany. Goodness! I wouldn't even know which ones to choose if had to buy some. Germany has over 50 varieties of bratwurst alone, and each region has its own version – size, seasonings and texture - many of the well-known varieties come from Bavaria.


Because of Germany's ample supply of meat, they learned early on how to preserve it. They became the world’s leading producer of the Wurst (cold cuts and sausages) that we love today. There are over 1,500 different kinds of wurst – from blutwurst to weisswurst, frankfurters to salami.


Cold cuts and sausages

Cold cuts are usually eaten cold with bread, while sausages are often eaten by themselves accompanied by sauerkraut, potato salad, bread rolls (Brötchen) and mustard or horseradish. There are several kinds of sausages - smoked, grilled, boiled, and the well-known, Bratwurst - derived from the word “Brat” - referring to the fact that the sausages are fried.


Sausage Salad


Sausage salad (wurstsalat).

Almost everyone loves sausage (with the exception of vegetarians), but there is one dish that we discovered while traveling in Germany. It's called sausage salad (wurstsalat in German), also called Bavarian Sausage Salad. This dish is made out of cold cooked sausage (fleischwurst, lyoner, etc.) with onions and pickles, all cut julienne style and mixed with vinaigrette.


This is a traditional snack in southern Germany, but I had it for lunch in a mountain restaurant while hiking in Oberstdorf. I had a first taste and I was hooked! It is very refreshing, light, satisfying and delicious, usually served with brown bread. I have made this several times since after our trip - thanks to the internet you can find recipes of this dish pretty easily. However, to find the right sausages, you have to go a German deli - the main ingredient is important for this dish.


White Sausage


White sausage (Weisswurst)

I bet few people know (with the exception of Europeans) about white sausage, or Weisswurst. It's not very common, but German deli stores usually have them. This sausage is light, not salty and has a mild taste. It is white because it has no preservatives and is not smoked. It is also called “morning sausage” because traditionally, it is served only before noon - that was before refrigerators were invented.


Weisswurst, which is popular at local festivals in Germany, is made of minced veal and pork with mild seasonings. It was first created in Munich (München) in 1857, by accident (as is the case with many foods). As the story goes, the butcher, which was making his usual sausages, realized that he didn’t have all the ingredients required. So he used what he had on hand, just to please the demanding customers. But, instead of grilling them, he boiled them because he was afraid that the sausages might split open if grilled. As it turned out, the customers loved them and so the Weisswurst was born.


Blood Sausage


Blood sausage (Blutwurst) and white sausage with potatoes

Blutwurst, or blood sausage, is a popular dish in Germany as well. It is made from fresh pig’s blood, diced pork and pork fat, and seasonings. It comes in varying sizes, traditionally warmed in hot (not boiling) water served with fried potatoes and onions.


Blood sausage is the oldest known type of sausage. In ancient times it was prepared and eaten by warriors. It was also eaten during festivals. Because of the sausage’s connection to pagan festivals, it was forbidden during the early middle ages. However, the ban was lifted because of the peoples' love for the sausage.


Blood sausage is one sausage that I don't care for much, because of its "minerally" taste. I guess it is an acquired taste. But don't let me put you off if you haven't had it. You have to try it since every palate is different and you might find out that you like it.



Sausages on a bed of creamy sauerkraut with pureed potato on the side

- MEAT & POTATOES -


Schnitzel


Pork schnitzel is a well-known German dish. It is breaded pork, pounded thin, dipped in flour, egg and bread crumbs then fried in butter or oil until it’s golden brown. It’s a pork version of the original Wiener Schnitzel which is made of veal, but is cooked the same way.

Three-meat (chicken, pork and beef) schnitzel
Schnitzel with gravy.

In Germany we had it both pan fried and with gravy - Germans love their gravy. Also a combination of three meats - chicken, pork and beef. Pan fried schnitzel is a regular dish in our house, easy to cook and delicious. Good with apple sauce or lemon. In Germany they pair it with Spätzle or fried potatoes, and fresh salad.


Hunters' Game


Cooking with hunters' game such as deer is popular in Germany, unlike in the United States where specialty meat can only be found in certain, usually upscale, restaurants. Hunting contributes significantly toward maintaining a healthy population of wild game and serving wild meats in restaurants in Germany is common. It is widely available all year round. They serve this dish with red cabbage and croquettes.


Deer steak and potato croquettes (Hirschkalbsbraten und Kroketten)

Roasted Duck

Roasted duck, red cabbage and knödel

Roasted duck is a substitute for the traditional roasted goose usually served on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day in Germany, depending on the region. It’s a Catholic tradition that began during the period of advent, which ends on the 24th of December, and is followed by celebration. I didn't eat duck before, but I do now since I had it in Germany. It is really good.

Ham

Ham (Schinken)

Ham is made two ways in Germany; home-cured or "wet-cured" (Kochschinken), which is a fresh ham for cooking. The other is dry, salt-cured and smoked which produces deep-red meat.


Either way, ham is an important item in Germany cuisine. It has been produced since the middle ages (though mostly for the upper class) because pigs were numerous and inexpensive to raise - they are omnivores and can find food everywhere.


The Black Forest region in Germany is famous for its ham. Traditionally, they coated the ham with beef blood which gives it its black exterior. Today the blackened exterior of the ham is caused by the spices and from the smoking process.


Did I mention that Germans love their gravy?


Steak on top of gravy
Turkey skewers and gravy
Meatloaf (Leberkäse) topped with two sunny-side eggs
Pork cutlet stuffed with ham and cheese, coated with bread crumbs and pan fried (Cordon Bleu von dem Schwein)

Goulash


Goulash is another dish that you have to eat when in Germany. We had it for lunch after touring the Neuschwanstein Castle. It's like comfort food, it warms and satisfies the belly.


Goulash and bread

This dish, which originated in Hungary and was called "gulyas" – meaning, "herdsman". It is usually cooked with beef. The name "gulyas" changed over time and became "gulyashus" (goulash meat), which loosely translated means "meat prepared by herdsmen". Goulash is prepared in many ways all over Europe and with a variety of meats.


In Germany, the dish is cooked using beef, venison or wild boar and served with potatoes or dumplings. We had it with a baguette.





- FISH -


The way I talk about meat you would think that fish is not popular in Germany. There are plenty of fishing areas in the country - lakes, rivers, streams and the sea, with several varieties of fish species such as brown, brook, lake and rainbow trout, and lake char, taimen, grayling, pike, walleye, perch and carp.


Baked fish filet with diced tomato and mushroom sauce and green salad and rice on the side

- SOUPS & BROWN BREAD -


Soup


If you are craving for something warm and light, such as soup, while traveling in Germany, rest assured that you will find it at most restaurants. Germans eat soup at least once a week. Legumes and lentils are significant ingredients in some of the soups. They have potato soup, cheese soup, bread soup, chicken soup, to name a few.