October 3 is the German national holiday, the Day of German Unity. But unlike the Fourth of July in the United States, there are no parades and no traditions, culinary or other, because the holiday only goes back to 1990. It was introduced to mark German Reunification that year and replaced June 17, the holiday that commemorated the East German uprising of 1953.
This is a preview of German Cuisine on the Day of German Unity.
Unlike me, my husband does not enjoy cooking. His repertoire nonetheless includes two dishes where I yield the kitchen to him without hesitation: grilled cheese sandwiches and American pancakes. The emphasis is here on American because German pancakes are quite different, in ingredients and size, and they are also eaten at a different time of the day.
On more than one occasion my husband announced to friends or family visiting from Germany that he would make them pancakes for breakfast the next morning. Sometimes he got a puzzled look and lack of enthusiasm, which he did not understand. So I told him he should explain that pancakes are a breakfast fare and that American pancakes are actually much smaller than German pancakes.
This is a preview of German Cuisine: To Each His Own (Pancake).
Nothing says fall for me like chestnuts do. On my way to school as a first grader I filled my pockets with them on crisp October mornings, a habit I continued as an adult. Those were the inedible chestnuts from the horse chestnut tree, Aesculus hippocastanum.
The best moment for me was always taking the chestnuts out of their thick, fleshy burrs and let the cool fruit with a surface like polished mahogany slowly warm in my cusped hand. After a few days the chestnuts lost their luster but how many times until then did I run my fingers over them and marvel at their color before the chestnuts eventually shriveled and hardened and I had to discard them with a heavy heart.
This is a preview of German Cuisine: For the Love of Chestnuts.
I was born in Frankfurt and spent the first 18 years of my life there. But, I never quite identified with the city as my hometown. My parents were both transplants from somewhere else. Except for the ubiquitous Frankfurter sausages, I rarely ate typical Frankfurt foods growing up. Some of them I even dreaded, in particular Handkäse, the pungent sour milk cheese usually marinated with oil, vinegar, onions and caraway.
Frankfurt’s signature drink, Apfelwein (apple wine), was a different story. My parents always had a case in the basement. It would have never occurred to me to refer to it in Frankfurt vernacular as Äppelwoi or Stöffche. In that respect, I always remained an outsider. I learned foreign languages without much difficulty but was never able to pronounce a single sentence in authentic Frankfurt or Hessian dialect.
This is a preview of German Cuisine: Hungry for Handkäs.
Just when I had thought I had seen everything Kinder Surprise could offer, I spotted this mini egg carton in the aisle of the local supermarket. Oooooh, something new to try! Jason raised his eyebrows as I put it into the shopping basket, but he was quickly reminded it was for our blog research.
It’s a good thing I saw them really. It’s actually better than the real thing! How is this possible I hear you ask? Well… let’s take a look inside.
This is a preview of German Food: What a (Kinder) Surprise.
Long before ice cream flavors such as latte macchiato or crème brûlée appeared in German grocery stores, there was Fürst Pückler ice cream. With its layers of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry, it is similar to Neapolitan ice cream except that it usually comes in the shape of a loaf cake so that it can be served by the slice.
In my childhood Fürst Pückler (Fürst means “Prince”) ice cream was a typical dessert after a Sunday lunch at Grandma’s, or on other special occasions. I never cared much for it; to me, the pale layers all tasted the same. But when a slice of Fürst Pückler was put in front of me I would eat it because I could never say no to ice cream.
This is a preview of Fürst Pückler: The Man Behind the Ice Cream.
Today was the day – I finally had all seven herbs together for Grüne Soße, the famous cold herb sauce from my hometown Frankfurt. In the city and its surroundings, the seven herbs are sold in a white paper wrapping with the recipe printed on it. Here in America, six of the seven herbs come from my garden, and the seventh, alfalfa, from a sprouter on the windowsill in my kitchen.
It is an urban legend that Grüne Soße was Goethe’s favorite dish, as the organizers of the Grüne Soße Festival point out on their website. Yes, Grüne Soße is so special to Frankfurt that since 2009 the dish has its own festival, with a competition for high-school classes to determine who makes the best Grüne Soße.
This is a preview of German Cuisine: My German Herb Garden.