When researching this post I came across other articles pointing out “Weird German Foods” or “Strange German Foods You Should Try At Least Once”. That’s not really what I am focusing on here. Most of us have heard of Schweinshaxe (roasted pork knuckle), Kartoffelsalat (potato salad), and – of course – Bratwurst. These are the classics you see at Bierhalle that have made their way to international fame and are proudly displayed in German restaurants around the world.
But there is so much more than these Bavarian-centric specialities. I wanted to cover a mix of German comfort foods and meals I enjoy eating at German restaurants that I had never heard of before coming to Germany.
Frankfurter Grüne Soße
Amidst another fairly bleak winter, Berlin has been experiencing glimpses of Frühling (Spring). This has awakened my appetite for something I now consider a quintessential spring dish, Frankfurter Grüne Soße.
I had read about it before I tried it on the ever educational A Sausage Has Two German food blog. A cold sauce composed of several finely chopped or pureed herbs mixed with oil, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper, it is usually served with boiled potatoes and hard-boiled eggs. Also known around its origin of Frankfurt am Main as Grie Sosse (and a PGI protected dish), the vibrant green of the herbaceous sauce looked like a plate full of new life.
Alas! I didn’t see the dish offered around me in the north. Traditionally it is available from Maundy Thursday through summer and you could put this dish together fairly easily, but some of the herbs are hard to find on their own let alone as a pack. The exact herb combo can be closely guarded in different establishments, but usually include borage, chervil, cress, parsley, burnet, sorrel and chives. I finally struck gold – or green, in this case – when I stumbled on packs of the herbs sold at one of Berlin’s finest weekend markets at Karl-August-Platz. Eagerly I bought my bundle, carefully chopped and pureed, then enjoyed. Wonderfully refreshing.
Sticking with the egg theme, this German comfort dish is one of those dishes best enjoyed at home. We might have missed this entirely as my household usually only cooks our American favorites. But meals at KiTa have been a great insight into German dishes straight from Oma’s Küche and after I saw it on the KiTa menu I grew curious and tried recreating it at home. It is extremely simple consisting of hard-boiled eggs and a mustard sauce. Following a recipe, I put it together one night and the family approved.
Ok, ok – I said not so Bavarian specialized and this is definitely a dish of Bayern. But being based in Berlin I somehow went nearly a decade without hearing about it and on last year’s trip down south to Austria someone from my group ordered this nearly every meal out.
This delectable meaty meal is made from the pig’s shoulder or scapula, hence the name “Schäufele”. In Franconia, the pork rind and the bone are roasted together as a whole creating an exquisite crunchy skin layer. In Baden and Switzerland, it is cured and smoked before simmering in broth. It is commonly served as a Christmas dish, although I can personally attest it is a delight year-round.
Now this is a Berlin classic and typical of East Prussian cuisine. Basically, it is meatballs with a creamy white sauce and capers and one of my all-time favorites yet I had never heard of it before arriving in Berlin.
Like Berlin, the dish has a complicated history. Named for the former German city of Königsberg, now Kaliningrad, Russia, it was called Kochklopse in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) to avoid reference to the city in the Soviet Union. They were also jokingly referred to as Revanchistenklopse, the political manifestation of the will to reverse territorial losses incurred by a country.
Whatever you call them, they are always a hearty and gratifying dish. Though they are easy to make, this is one I reserve for going out to Berlin-style restaurants.
Ending on a sweet note, the first time I had this simple yet satisfying cake was at our very own German-Way meet-up. Former contributor Chloe welcomed the team into her home and ended our gathering with this treat. Also called Zwetschgenkuchen, Zwetschgendatschi or Zwetschgenplootz, it is the perfect use of the plentiful plum season and is an easy dessert to put together for a gathering.
I was recently reminded of it when I finally read Luisa Weiss’ “My Berlin Kitchen”. I have been low-key following this Italian-American writer who grew up in Berlin and her popular blog, The Wednesday Chef, since moving to the city. I got her book for Christmas and immediately immersed myself in her tri-lingual world. The recipes at the end of each chapter are both aspirational and attainable and the book is part memoir, a love letter to her mix of cultures, her family and the foods that define her.
When I came across her recipe for Pflaumenkuchen it evoked the same easy summer vibes I felt on that day in Chloe’s dining room. I bookmarked it for the next time I have an excess of plums (along with many other recipes in her book) and it sparked this post and my thoughts on the surprising German foods I have come to love.
Source : The German Way