There’s an obvious correlation between countries that are known for beer production and countries that are known for bad food. Take America, for instance… we drink a lot of beer, and our national foods are hamburgers and hotdogs. Then you have the Czech Republic, renowned for their Pilsner, not-so-renowned for their meat and potatoes diet.
Well, the correlation applies to Germany too. We’ve all heard about Germany’s superior brewing skills. Unfortunately, the same skills don’t apply to cooking.
Much like the Czech Republic, meals in Germany are big and hearty plates that aren’t good for your heart. German dishes are designed to fill you up and keep you warm — that’s about it.
Sauerbraten, which translates to “sour roast,” is considered the national dish of Germany. It’s a pot roast made of beef marinated in vinegar, water and seasonings. Sauerbraten is often served with the two most popular side dishes in Germany: sauerkraut and potatoes (either boiled, mashed or fried).
While more popular in the south of Germany, it’s not uncommon to find a spatzle dish on a menu. Spatzle is an egg noodle that can either be served as a side dish or eaten as a main dish like spaghetti.
Popular spatzle dishes include Käsespätzle (spatzle grated with cheese and fried onion) or Linsen, Spätzle und Saitenwürstle (spatzle with lentils and a whole sausage).
There are also sweet versions: Kirschspätzle (spatzle with cherries, butter, sugar and cinnamon), or Apfelspätzle (spatzle with apples, butter, sugar and cinnamon).
The food you’ll find the most on a German menu is schnitzel, which is simply a deboned meat cutlet that’s breaded and fried. Usually the meat is veal or pork, contrary to what Wienerschnitzels in America will have us believe (wienerschnitzel is actually fried pork). Schnitzel is usually served with French fries.
Another hearty food that can be served as a meal or a side dish is Klöße, which is poached or boiled dumplings made from either potato or bread.
If you’re lucky enough to be treated to a traditional Christmas meal in Germany, you’ll savor Rouladen, a thinly sliced piece of beef that is rolled around bacon, onions and pickled gherkin, then cooked low and slow until the meat is tender and juicy.
Wursts (sausages) are insanely popular in Germany, probably because it’s a cheap, hearty, flavorful food that can be found at any bar, fast food joint (called an imbiss) or restaurant. By far the most popular wurst in and around Berlin is the currywurst. In fact, it’s so popular that it even has a museum.
A currywurst is pork sausage smothered in curry-flavored ketchup and sprinkled with curry powder. It’s what I imagine an Indian hot dog would taste like if they ate hot dogs in India (which they don’t and that’s why Indian food is damn good).
Currywurst became instantly popular after it was invented in 1949 by a food stall owner named Herta Heuwer. According to Reuters, Germans eat about 800 million currywursts every year. The oldest and supposedly most popular currywurst stand in Berlin is Konnopke’s Imbiss, a small food stall underneath the train tracks at Eberswalderstrasse station.
The two most popular desserts are:
Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, which you may know as Black Forest Cake. This is dense cake featuring layers of chocolate cake, whipped cream and cherries. A cherry liquor called Kirschwasser is often mixed into the cake batter to give the cake a little bite.
Even if you can’t read German, you won’t have a difficult time finding apple strudel on a menu; it’s called Apfelstrudel. Even if you’re not a fan of apples, you can’t resist the taste of warm cinnamon-coated apples wrapped in a sleeping bag of fresh and flaky dough that’s been sprinkled with powdered sugar. If it’s a little too warm, you can cool it off with ice cream ala mode.