German Cuisine and Recipes
German Food, Recipes and cooking
by Country - April 2003
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is situated in Central Europe, with a 2,389 km coastline on the Baltic and
North Seas and borders with France, Poland, Russia, Czechoslovakia,
Holland (The Netherlands), Austria, Switzerland and Denmark, all of which
countries, or at least portions thereof, were part of the German Empire at one
time or another.
Times and Influences on German Cooking
fertile terrain and ample water supplies made for good grazing and Germany has
always been rich in beef, dairy cattle, sheep, and pigs. Thus, until the Middle
Ages, the German diet mainly consisted of meat and their by-products i.e. milk
and cheese. Smoking, marinating and salting techniques were developed to store
the abundance of meat, a practice which has survived and is evident with their
myriad of sausages and preserved foods.
Romans were the probably the first to make any significant comment on German
food. Latin literature records that German cuisine was a simple affair,
consisting of a lot of meat and a lot of mead. By 96 AD, the Romans completed
their colonisation of regions in southern Germany and it is undeniable that
their eating and drinking habits influenced the German cuisine.
much is known about the period after the Romans withdrew, but there seems to
have been a culinary revival with the spreading of Christianity and the
inevitable founding of monasteries. Another influence came with the political
stabilisation of Western Europe under Charlemagne around the 8th century. It was
at that time that extensive cultivation of grapes, vegetables, fruit and herbs
was recorded. Also, with this stability came wealth (at least for some) and it
was the ruling classes who were responsible for introducing spices from around
the adding another dimension to traditional German cooking.
following period of wars probably had the most influence on modern-day German
cuisine. Both France and parts of Italy were conquered and now came under
Charlemagne's rule, as did Switzerland and Austria. One doesn't immediately
think of German cuisine being akin to French cuisine, but it's certain that
culinary customs were picked up from both the French and Italians.
the 18th century sugar, rice and potatoes (introduced by King Frederick the
Great of Prussia) became widely available to the German populace.
Day German Cuisine
simple but substantial food remains a characteristic of German cuisine. Meat,
Game, game birds and rabbit are considered traditional foods, as is the use of
juniper berries, with mustard and horseradish being common condiments. The
renowned Sauerkraut is still popular as are their vast range sausages (wurst),
speciality cured meats and dairy products e.g. cheese, often eaten with
Pumpernickel bread which originated in Northern Germany.
one would expect, the geographical differences and the bordering countries still
have an influence on regional cuisine. Cooking in the north still tends to
reflect the customs of the nearby Scandinavian countries. The diet here is much
heavier than that in the south, with an emphasis on meat and potatoes. In the
south, a lighter cuisine can be found with strong influences from nearby Italy
and Austria. Also grain products are substituted for potatoes in many instances
e.g. Spatzle which is a special type of pasta noodle.