The following post is YG guest blogger Guarav Kedia. Check out his perspective on German cuisine.
My last blog described my experience with German language. Learning German was fun, but still I wasn’t very aware of the language, and I wasn’t really enjoying my stay. I can say the same about food. It’s not that German cuisine isn’t delicious but I really didn’t know much about it and my lack of knowledge made it hard for me to appreciate it.
The reason for this is quite simple. I am a very strict vegetarian, and having been brought up in a family who doesn’t eat even garlic and onions for spiritual reasons, I didn’t have the courage to explore the non-vegetarian menus. So, when I came to Germany which offers a lot non-vegetarian food, I could have died out of hunger. In the beginning I was very cautious of food. I ate mostly salad but soon I got tired of it. Indian cuisine is full of spices and no Indian can satisfy his taste buds with fruits and leaves.
After the precautionary days were over, one day I took the liberty to ask for some tasty-looking vegetarian dish without looking at the ingredients. So I went to the canteen and ordered the vegetarian breakfast of the day. I was so happy to be able to eat something different. My order was ready in couple of minutes and when I saw it, I was completely taken aback to see an omelette served on my plate. I knew I ordered a vegetarisches Gericht i.e., vegetarian dish. I thought may be the chef didn’t hear me properly. Still I apologized and returned it to get Kartoffelsalat (potato salad ). Later that day when I narrated my story to one of my friends, he said there’s nothing wrong with my crude German–it’s about the concept. In Germany or Europe for that matter, seafood and eggs are often considered vegetarian. Aw! That wasn’t in my encyclopedia! Now it was time to learn about German cuisine.
The very first thing I learned is that Germans love non-vegetarian food. No meal is complete without meat, especially pork (40 kg in average per person). Beef (9 kg in average per capita) follows third in third place. And then there’s mutton, chicken (11 kg in average per capita), seafood (16 kg in average per capita) and so on. Sausages form a main part of German food. I guess if India is called the country of curry, Germany should be called the country of sausages. You finely chop raw meat, sprinkle in some spices, and fill it into a synthetic or washed pig or cow intestines, and there it is—your sausage—ready to barbeque and to eat.
There are wide varieties of sausages all over Germany and each region has its speciality. Wurst is what they call it. Blutwurst, Currywurst, and Bratwurst to name a few. Sausages are consumed on their own or with condiments—salads or sauerkraut. It lacks spices but tastes good and can be stored for months if preserved properly.
A great option for vegetarians like me in Germany is salad. German salads are rich in their constituent and variety. You can make full lunch of German salads. It’s mostly a mixture of radish, tomato, cucumber, lettuce, noodles, and yoghurt, and even fish are used in some recipes. Spiced with black pepper and mustard, German salads don’t score many points with an Indian’s taste, still it’s still great. Ironically for a vegetarian, a steak place named Maredo offers one of the best salad options.
Another vital part of meals here is bread. It’s more of a part of German culture and a way of celebration in itself. Germans have perhaps more than a couple of thousand varieties of breads. When it comes to bread, I feel German cuisine is more varied than rest of the Europe. A wide variety—ranging from white wheat bread to grey (Graubrot) to black (Schwarzbrot) or dark brown rye bread can be found. Most breads contain both wheat and rye flour (hence Mischbrot, mixed bread), and often wholemeal and whole seeds (such as sunflower or pumpkin) as well. Darker, rye-dominated breads such as Vollkornbrot or Schwarzbrot are typical in Germany.
There is a coffee time in Germany as there is a tea time in Britain. I vividly remember the evening get together with a few friends of my classmate who gathered at a Konditorei. We had coffee along with delicious pastries in the room filled with an aroma of sweet delights. That was the day I learned that my once favorite Black Forest cake originated in Germany.
After few months of stay I had explored treasure of German food and started loving a few dishes, such as the Bavarian Obazda, Raclette with savory Streusel, dicke Linsen, Quark mit Leinoel, und Pellkartoffeln. For foodies, I would suggest trying German cuisine. You’re going to love it!! Like I did.