Category Archives: Food

German Cuisine: Doughnuts Out of Africa

by Nadia Hassani

Photo courtesy Spoonfuls of Germany

Photo courtesy Spoonfuls of Germany

“May I have some?”, my husband asked after he finished photographing the German carnival pastries I had made as tasting samples for a German food and history talk to the German club of a local high school. I allowed my photographer to eat the two rejects and took away the rest.

Driving home with the empty trays in the trunk, I felt bad about it. My husband photographs just about everything for Spoonfuls of Germany. It sometimes takes 2 or 3 hours until he is satisfied with the set, the light and the “pose”, and before he signs off on the food portraits that you see.

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German Cuisine: Pigs, Pork, and Luck

by Nadia Hassani

Photo courtesy Spoonfuls of Germany

Photo courtesy Spoonfuls of Germany

When it comes to pigs, there is no beating around the bush: as much as I want to dispel the idea that German food is nothing but pork and sausage, I must acknowledge that there indeed is a longstanding and intimate relationship between Germans and their pigs.

With a per capita amount of 87 pounds per year, pork is the most consumed meat in Germany. Consumption is decreasing slightly every year, and the meat industry has a nervous eye on this development. But let’s be realistic: Germans won’t turn into a nation of vegetarians. Poultry, beef, fish and seafood have a long way to go to catch up with pork – even with their numbers added up, their overall consumption is less than pork. That Germans keep filling their plates with pork is of vital economic interest, as Germany produces more pork than it consumes. The country is the biggest exporter of pork in the European Union.

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German Cuisine and the Quince

by Nadia Hassani

Photo courtesy Spoonfuls of Germany

Photo courtesy Spoonfuls of Germany

In Germany, like in the United States, quinces were a forgotten fruit for a long time – until the Slow Food Movement rediscovered them.

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German Cuisine on the Day of German Unity

by Nadia Hassani

Photo courtesy Spoonfuls of Germany

Photo courtesy Spoonfuls of Germany

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.

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German Cuisine: To Each His Own (Pancake)

by Nadia Hassani

Photo courtesy Spoonfuls of Germany

Photo courtesy Spoonfuls of Germany

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.

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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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