Teutonic cookery never enjoyed the reputation of Gallic cuisine and kitchen flair. The French, probably with a lot of bias, claim, “ Germans eat to live, the French live to enjoy food”.
Up to recent times there were very few, if any, German restaurants in the Michelin guide, but now there are many.
Young German chefs now travel widely all over the world after competing successfully their apprenticeship, to learn about other cuisines, and then they return home to practise new techniques picked-up and presentations gleaned.
Germany after World War II followed a policy of open markets, and now imports food from all over the world. All you have to do is visit a large department store in a major city, like Berlin’s KaDeWe, or a gourmet grocery store in smaller towns. You will find an array of French and Italian cheeses along with many others from Bavaria, a federal state within Germany, vegetables and fruits from Spain, Portugal, southern Italy, Greece, Africa, the Caribbean, just to name a few.
Each region within the country has over time created specialties like Konigsberger klopse, Bremer labskaus, Hamburger Aal grun, Pfalzer gefullte saumagen, Bavarian knodel, and Sauerbraten and spatle.
The German cuisine is said to be “heavy” and to some extent this may be true in families following old traditions.
Today, young people look for fresh and light foods, and dry wines. In the past, off-dry and sweet white wines were very much in demand.
It must be stated the old cuisine relying mostly on stews, deep fried foods, pan-fried meat or fish, soups, flour and butter based sauces are slowly vanishing.
Guest workers”, actually migrant workers, from Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Turkey brought with them many food and cooking techniques Germans in general never used. They are now gradually being adopted and ever so slightly modified to modern palates.
For proteins, Germans like pork, beef, poultry (mostly chicken, but also duck and goose), and sausages for regular meals.
Venison, wild boar and rabbit are popular for formal and festive meals.
For seafood, farmed trout, carp, pike, salmon, European perch, and eel are popular, and mostly pan-fried, or poached fro those with delicate stomachs. Smoked fish is also popular in restaurants, and for families who can afford them, and during festive meals.
For vegetables, potatoes rank first, followed by carrots, turnips, cabbage, peas, beans, broccoli, spinach, and asparagus. Millions wait anxiously for fresh white asparagus in Ma and splurge on this delicate vegetable in restaurants or at home. Asparagus is served with scallops of veal, simply steamed and with Sauce Hollandaise. German butter from Bavaria is delicious. The cuisine is mild; mustard is used sparingly and mostly with pan-fried or boiled sausages.
When it comes to bread, German bakers cannot be surpassed. There are hundreds of bread types, from very refined to very coarse pumpernickel.
Pastry cooks (konditors) are famous fro their butter-rich cakes, whipped cream and chocolate covered Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte, and many others. Still today, retired and old ladies meet in Konditorei (cafes) for Kaffee und Kuchen once or twice a week.
A recent survey of most popular foods in Germany revealed the following:
Bread and butter
Soups with potato
Beef bird (roulade a k a paupiette in French)