Category Archives: Food

German Cuisine: For the Love of Chestnuts

by Nadia Hassani

Photo courtesy Spoonfuls of Germany

Photo courtesy Spoonfuls of Germany

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.

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German Cuisine: Hungry for Handkäs

by Nadia Hassani

Photo courtesy Spoonfuls of Germany

Photo courtesy Spoonfuls of Germany

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.

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German Food: What a (Kinder) Surprise

by Vanessa Abel

Photo courtesy Leather & AbelToo good to be true?

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.

Photo courtesy Leather & Abel

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Fürst Pückler: The Man Behind the Ice Cream

by Nadia Hassani

Photo courtesy Spoonfuls of Germany

Photo courtesy Spoonfuls of Germany

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.

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German Cuisine: My German Herb Garden

by Nadia Hassani

Photo courtesy Spoonfuls of Germany

Photo courtesy Spoonfuls of Germany

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.

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German Cuisine: All About Quark

by Nadia Hassani

Photo copyright Spoonfuls of Germany

Photo copyright Spoonfuls of Germany

After my book signing last weekend, one of my gardening buddies sent me an email telling me how much she enjoyed the book, and ending with, “Quark? Really? How did it get that name?” This made me think that I need to set things straight about my favorite dairy product, which, alas, is hard to find in the United States.

Quark has been around centuries before the physicist Murray Gell-Mann decided to name the elementary particles he discovered in the 1960s “quarks”. He borrowed the term from James Joyce’s novel Finnegan’s Wake, without any connection whatsoever to the food.

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German Cuisine: High Time for Poppy Seeds

by Nadia Hassani

Photo copyright Spoonfuls of Germany

Photo copyright Spoonfuls of Germany

“Can poppy seeds get you high?”, is a question that pops up a lot when you search for poppy seeds on the Internet. In fact, consuming only three poppy seed bagels can lead to false positives in over-the-counter drug tests, as demonstrated in a 2003 episode of Discovery Channel’s MythBusters.

Walk into any well-assorted pastry shop in Germany and you will likely find sheet cake, streusel cake, or poppy seed roll with a generous poppy seed filling. These goodies contain many times over the skimpy amount of poppy seeds that are sprinkled onto a bagel. Does this mean that Germany has it own legalized version of Alice B. Toklas brownies, available at any bakery down the street?

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