I have only been to Germany twice and my most significant food memory of the country is as follows: Sauerkraut, potatoes and one giant pretzel. I’m definitely not saying there’s nothing gastronomic about German fare – quite the contrary, I loved hanging out in the traditional bier halls and tucking into ginormous amounts of food and beer.
And forget about that diet! There’s always meat in many forms (and of the meat sweats generating quantity) and potatoes or some other types of carbs. The only significant form of vegetable is sauerkraut – well, mostly.
I love sauerkraut even though the description provided by wikipedia is rather off-putting. It says that sauerkraut is basically ‘finely shredded cabbage that has been fermented by various lactic acid bacteria’ – mmmm…appetising, no?
Truth is, I love that fermented vegetable simply for its sour taste which helps cut through the grease and stodgy carbs from the main dishes. Put differently, I think its a great complement to the overall richness of sausages, braised and grilled meats.
Setting aside the more infamous combination of sauerkraut and bratwurst…one of the most appetite-challenging meals I’ve ever had consisted of sauerkraut and potato dumplings, also known as Kartoffelklösse. I’m not a big potato fan, so this dish scared me a little. This was one of the first meals I had in Germany (Frankfurt). Two giant dumplings the size of my fists stared back at me. As I sliced into the dumplings, the bacon-filled centre oozed juices and porky oil. As it is, I have a rather low threshold for potatoes that are not in the form of crisps. I went through the first dumpling with gusto, it was delicious mind you, but gosh, I may have a good appetite, but stuffing two fist-sized dumplings and sauerkraut into my tummy was impossible.
With almost every meal going forward, I faced more potatoes – in a ‘salad’, boiled, more dumplings, mashed, crushed, fried. I needed a carb change – and so opted for a takeaway box of teriyaki on rice (in Munich). Heh…oh oh, not forgetting one of the most authentic Thai meals in Europe too! But that’s for another story.
We visited the beautiful English gardens in Munich one summer, and right where the Chinese Tower sits (yes, I think the Germans just wanted to confuse us by naming it the English garden and then building a Chinese tower in it) is their famous beer garden. This place is huge! I reckon this garden is bigger than London’s Hyde Park or NYC’s Central Park and very, very gorgeous.
This beer garden had long lines of benches all laid out, and in summer, you have musicians in the tower entertaining visitors, there were stalls selling beer (of course) and real food like grilled sausages and fish. I got myself a GIANT pretzel – as big as my head! It was one twisted, salty, chewy, crunchy, doughy goodness that went superbly well with my GIANT mug of beer. I felt like I was trespassing in Gulliver’s kitchen.
I doubt I’ll have the chance to visit Germany again in the near future, so I’m happily taking these wonderful memories with me – of sauerkraut and giant food. Ja, es ist Zeit zum Essen! (Yes, it’s time to eat!)