Germany for Foodies

Germany

for Foodies

If one wants to understand how vast Germany’s geography is, one should plan to make a visit to at least Berlin, Munich, Cologne and Hamburg. This way you cover

–          eastern Germany, which was behind the iron curtain for 40 years

–          southern Germany, which implies the postcard picture of Germany: Alps, beer and Trachten

–          western Germany with river valleys and vineyards

–          northern Germany with the coastline and the harbor towns

 

Every region could be a country in itself – has its own dialect, tradition, food, climate and landscape – united it´s modern Germany with a history spanning more than 2000 years. I don`t list the provinces, population numbers etc. at this point – I think it`s more important to experience the culture by getting into contact with locals, to eat where they eat and to get an idea what daily life is

Travel in Germany

To ease your trip, you should pay attention to some facts:

  • shops all kinds are closed on Sundays! Only bakeries and the small shops at the gas station are open
  • look for a Kiosk (Späti) in bigger towns, you get cool drinks, newspapers, cigarettes, snacks even at night or on Sundays
  • every town has its train station, tickets are way cheaper when purchased in advance http://www.bahn.de
  • every airport and the big train stations offer rental cars
  • most people understand English and are happy to help or just chat
  • don`t think German highway is speed highway – there are many speed limits and tickets are expensive

Usefull facts around Food in Germany

When I travel, I like to skip fancy restaurants and grab a bite from a street vendor for a tasty, cheap, and truly local snack. While Germany might not have the most exotic street food, you’ll find some great treats at a German “Imbiss” (fast food stand), from spicy curry wurst, to doner kebab (invented by turkish immigrants) and local specialties like Maultaschen in Schwaben, Weisswurst in  Bavaria or Crabmeat sandwiches in northern Germany.

  • Germany is divided in wine areas and beer areas and in general it’s a good idea to adjust
  • Germany has bakeries at every corner, great places for breakfast or  a coffee break
  • Every town/village has a butcher shop, often you get a daily changing lunch for take away, fresh cooked and great value
  • Every bigger town has its daily farmers market, where you also find food stalls (predecessor of the popular food trucks) for a good lunch, or you get samples of local cheese, sausage and bread from the market and have a picnic.
  • Kaffee und Kuchen (coffee and cake) is an established word in Germany, describing the coffee break between lunch and dinner
  • as a rule of thumb you can assume the most traditional and best restaurant in small towns close to the church – going for lunch after church is and was obligatory
  • you don’t have to tip, but if you liked it, you are welcome to tip round about 10 %
Germany north – Hamburg, Bremen, Lübeck, Flensburg

Northern

Germany

 

The one and only big city in Germany`s north is Hamburg. The smaller cities compete amongst each other: for being the second Kiel and Bremen, for being the jewel Lunenburg and Lübeck and for being the richest Kiel and Lunenburg. If you arrive from abroad to the north, your airport will be Hamburg and most train connections go via Hamburg, so I suggest to stop over for a night or two and visit the Reeperbahn, the harbor and the Alster etc

culinary map germany, TravemündeThe North stretches from Germany’s North Sea to the Baltic sea coastline, a landscape to savour the salt-laden breeze and smoked fish, but also includes the hilly lake region around Plön and the Luneburger heath. The climate is more rough than in other German regions and  even though people from here sometimes sarcastically  say “summer is, when we drink our Grog (hot tea with rum) outside”, it´s a popular holiday region.

Moin moin – the people in the north

Local dialect: Moin moin means „hello“, typical greeting for the people here in the northern part of Germany. A translation of the „moin moin“ would be : Hello, how are you doing? Not that the people from northern Germany are known for their small talk capability – you could even call them taciturn. But they are hearty and humorous, just talking seems to be a waste of time to them.

Möwi noch een? you might hear that in a brewery pub, it means “let´s have another beer” or, if the waiter asks,  “do you want another beer”?

Food and drinks in the north of Germany

Crabs from the northern sea, smoked eel, Labskaus, Kale with meat, Marzipan

Flensburger Pils, Jever Pils, Urstrom beer, Schnaps, Grog (hot tea with rum)

Cities in the north: Hamburg, Bremen, Kiel, Flensburg, Lübeck, Travemünde, Lüneburg, Uelzen, Plön, Hannover, Celle,

Itineraries:  food tour Holstein Switzerland, Luneburger Heath, the old Salt Route, Travemünde food tour, food tour Flensburg, Marzipan tasting in Lübeck

Germany west – Cologne, Mainz, Frankfurt

Western

Germany

Rhine, Moselle, Ahr

The west includes the lovingly bending river valleys of the Rhine, Moselle and Ahr, but also Europe`s biggest chemistry region. The left hand part of the Rhine is heavy influenced by France (was under French protection for almost 200 years), and you find reminiscences in the language, the food and the style of life.  Traveling along the Rhine, the transport route since Roman times, is the best way to explore the area. This 2000 years old cultural landscape is full with historic sites: ancient Roman town walls, mediaval fortresses and renaissance castles, not to mention the excellent wine and beer tradition.

Food and drinks in western Germany

Himmel un Ääd, Reibekuchen, Flammkuchen

Beer: Kölsch, Alt

Cities in the west: Bonn, Cologne, Aachen, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt

Itineraries: Ahr valley, Moselle valley, Rhine valley

 

Germany south, Bavaria

Southern

Germany

Baden-Würtemberg

Bavaria is a country in itself, (actually was a kingdom till 1870) and stretches all the way from the Alps practically up to Frankfurt. Bavaria has its own north and south:

– Franconia in the north

– Black forrest in the west

– Oberbayern with Munich and the lakes in the south

Connecting north and south is the Romantic Road, which starts in Würzburg and travels through some of Germany prettiest towns and villages to end up in Füssen, but don`t expect to be the only one on the Romantic Road, it`s kind of touristy.

Another way to travel through Bavaria is to follow the river Danube or, if you look for smaller itineraries, you follow one of the beer- or wine routes.

culinary map germany, franconiaFranconia

Franconia splits into the wine dominated area around Würzburg and along the river Main and the beer area around Nürnberg and Munich. You find an enchanting landscape with wine hills and small towns at the river Main, town walls, cobble stone streets and small wineries. The more south you get, the higher the mountains are, breweries substitute the wineries and beer gardens dominate the culinary landscape.

Cities in Franconia: Würzburg, Nürnberg, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bamberg, Bayreuth, Coburg

Food and Drinks in Frankconia

Nürnberger sausages, Nürnberger gingerbread (Lebkuchen) Rothenburger Schneeballen, Obatzter (smashed cheese with wine), Schäufele (pig shoulder with crust, served with dumplings and sauce)

Beer: Bamberger Rauchbier

Itineraries: Nürnberg – Bamberg – Coburg, Franconia wine tour

Black Forrest

The long low range of mountains known as the Black Forest runs for some 200km north to south along the border with France. Like the name suggests, the area is covered with forest and its mountainous topography has prevented industrialization, so traditional villages and customs made it into the 21rst century.

Cities in the Black Forrest: Freudenstadt, Freiburg im Breisgau

Food in the Black Forrest

Schwarzwälder Schinken, Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte

culinary map germany, tracht

Oberbayern – mia san mia

When you think of Bavaria, you think of people in Tracht (Dirndl and letherpants), huge beer “Seidl” and the Alps, right? So this is the area, where you actual find these traditions. During the Oktoberfest all of Bavaria will wear Tracht, also on Sundays in church and during local celebrations you will see people with a traditional Dirndl or letherpants. The Alps make a perfect setting, you will find a church and a beer garden in every small village and people speak a language, not even Germans would understand, they call it bayrisch (Bavarian dialect). Here people identify with tradition even more and express themself in the sentence mia san mia, which means we are we, just special and not to compare.

Food in Bavaria and drinks

Weisswurst, Brezel, Leberkäse, Haxn

Weizenbier, Pils

Cities in Oberbayern: Munich, Passau, Constanz, Augsburg, Garmisch-Patenkirchen

 

Eastern Germany – Berlin, Leipzig, Dresden

Eastern

Germany

From the Baltic sea to the forrest in Thuringen, the east has lots to offer and the fact, that it was behind the iron curtain for 40 years, makes it even more interesting.

The Lakeland of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern

is located between the Baltic sea and Berlin. With a network of over a thousand lakes and waterways, it is a well-established recreational area. Farmland, forests, lakes and small villages is all you see, perfect for biking or boating. All kinds of fish dishes, but also game is often to find on the menu.

Berlin, surrounded by the Spreewald

is worth a visit by itself. The metropole has many faces and even a week is not enough time to see them all. Beside famous and fancy (and expensive) restaurants you find a many affordable and etnic places, you can eat around the world within one district! In fact, every district is like a town on its own! The typical beer Berliner Weisse is not everyones cup of tea, but you should give it a try, same with the cucumbers from the Spreewald (Spreewald Gurken).

Thuringia, Saxony, Brandenburg

have a  long and rich history, which you still can see in the carefully restored historic centers. Culinary delights have been an important part of the Saxon lifestyle at least since the Baroque ages when Augustus the Strong celebrated his legendary feasts.

Special dishes in eastern Germany

Dresdner Christmas Stollen, Leipziger Allerlei, Thueringer sausage and dumplings, Eisbein and Kraut

Beer: Berliner Weisse, Leipziger Gose

Cities in the east: Rostock, Berlin, Potsdam, Dresden, Leipzig, Weimar