When you think of typical German foods, pretzels, sausage and beer probably come to mind. At least that’s what people teased me I would be eating and drinking day and night once I moved to Germany.
Of course the beer flows freely here and I’ve eaten pretzels as big as my head but there are so many German foods that I’ve now become acquainted with that I’d never heard of before moving to Germany. Here are some of my favourite discoveries:
Flip open a German cookbook and you’ll probably find at least one recipe calling for quark. Quark is a fresh dairy product found in German-speaking, northern European and Slavic countries. It’s a soft, white unaged cheese somewhat similar to cottage cheese or curd cheese. It comes in multiple milk fat percentages and can be found in every grocery store in Germany. Quark is commonly used in baking, especially in cakes like cheesecake. Given its ubiquity in Europe, I’m surprised that it hasn’t really caught on in North America. I saw it once in a Canadian grocery store but a small container cost almost ten dollars!
Schorle is a popular German beverage made up of a mix of juice and sparkling mineral water. Apfelschorle (made with apple juice) is the most common kind and is found in vending machines and on beverage menus alongside soft drinks. When I first visited Germany, I drank my weight in Apfelschorle – we don’t have anything like it in Canada! If the schorle you’d like isn’t listed on a menu, you can order your own custom juice and sparkling water mix; red currant with sparkling water (Johannisbeerschorle) is my favourite. You can easily make your own schorle at home by mixing roughly equal parts of juice with sparkling water. It’s a healthier alternative to pop or lemonade since there’s less sugar in schorle and I find it to be even more refreshing.
Klöße (also known as knödel) are boiled dumplings made from flour, bread or potatoes that are popular in central European cuisine. There are countless variations of klöße, but the kind that I’m most familiar with is the German Franconian style—boiled round potato dumplings. They are usually served as a side dish to meat and are topped with a delicious brown sauce. My favourite part of eating a kloß is cutting into the centre to find the small toasted bread cubes hiding within. Franconian klöße can be hard to come across in restaurants or homes outside of northern Bavaria, Germany so if you’re visiting Franconia, do try some! They’re slightly gummy, warm and tremendously comforting.
Cola and orange-flavoured soft drinks are found on every drink menu, but have you ever had the two combined? Enter the delightful pre-mixed combo of the two called Spezi which is found all over Germany and Austria. Popular brand names include Schwip Schwap or Mezzo Mix. I don’t commonly drink Spezi but my German husband loves it! I supposed the citrus-cola hybrid is a bit of an acquired taste.
Rote Grütze, which translates to ‘red groats’, is a popular German and Danish sweet fruit dessert. The grütze is usually made with a mix of red summer berries such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries, red currants and black currants. The mixture is sweetened with sugar and thickened with a type of starch (usually potato starch). Grütze can be served hot or cold and is usually accompanied by a creamy vanilla sauce or custard to balance the acidic fruits. Rote Grütze is probably my all-time favourite German dessert as it showcases summer fruits at their peak. You can even find it premade in small containers in the pudding section of the grocery store, often with vanilla sauce in an adjoining container. Certainly a must-try dessert!
At German outdoor festivals and parties, it’s common to find a large bowl of fruit-spiked wine punch called bowle. There are all kinds of bowle recipes but most consist of chilled white wine mixed with juice, lemonade or sparkling wine (called Sekt). Other spirits like rum can be added to the punch or red wine can be used instead of white wine. Fruits such as strawberries, pineapple or watermelon are often added to the punch bowl up to a day in advance to flavour the bowle. A glass of Erdbeerbowle (strawberry punch) really hits the spot on a warm summer evening. You should watch how many glasses you drink, though, because those small glasses can sure pack a punch!
What are your favourite German foods? Let me know in the comments below!