July 13, 2011
Every night I toss and turn, and I can feel my soul yearning with a hunger I cannot presently fulfill. It has been two months since I’ve last satisfied this longing, and the serious void that has been left in my life has left me struggling to function as a human being. What is this yearning for you ask? What is my hunger? My soul longs for German cooking, of course.
I didn’t grow up on German food, but I’ve decided to adopt it as my own after a blissful four months abroad in Freiburg, Germany. When I tell people how good the food was, they look at me cross-eyed, like I just did the Guten Tag Hop Clop.
Fear not dear reader, for I will not let you fall into the misconception that the palate is foreign to the Germans. Here, in itemized form, is why German cuisine is, in my opinion, the best cuisine in the world.
1. Potatoes: Kartoffelsalat or potato salad is sacred, and my flat-mate made an incomparable batch. But Kartoffelpüree, mashed potatoes, and Salzkartoffeln, boiled potatoes, are equally as common. (If you haven’t guessed by now, ‘Kartoffel’ means potato.) German cuisine often calls for a Kartoffelgerichte, or side dish centered on potatoes, in nearly every regional specialty, and I never came across one I didn’t like.
2. Sausage: The meat counters in Germany are unparalleled, and the quality and variety of Würste is overwhelming. My favorite? Münchener Weißwurst, a white sausage from Munich flavored with parsley and onion, and often eaten for breakfast.
3. Maultaschen: A more regional specialty from Swabia, Maultaschen are dough pockets filled with vegetables or minced meat. German grocery stores carry a diverse variety, and once boiled in broth and served with (surprise!) Kartoffelsalat, they make for a tasty yet quick and easy and traditional Swäbisch meal.
4. Spätzle: This is the German equivalent of mac and cheese. It consists of egg noodles, grilled onions, bacon, and lots of cheese. This is yet another dish that is easy to make and so very delicious. I easily hooked my parents on Spätzle when they came to visit.
5. Flammkuchen: Flammkuchen is a specialty of the Elsass or Alsace region that has bounced back and forth between France and Germany. Flammkuchen, or tarte flambeé in French, is a flatbread with red onions, thin strips of ham, crème fraiche, and usually Gruyere cheese. It has a unique taste, and if you’re lucky you can find them stateside at Trader Joe’s.
6 . Bread: Bäckereien, or bakeries, were perhaps the most tempting part about living in Germany. Bread is an essential part of every meal, and Germans get quite creative when they put dough in the oven, and the results are overwhelmingly positive. My personal favorite was Sonnenblumenkernbrot, or bread with sunflower seeds baked in.
7. Veggies: Every day but Sunday in Freiburg there was a farmer’s market in the central square, and fresh, local veggies were the main attraction. You have to have something green with every meal, and local asparagus and broccoli were perfect complements to a hearty plate.
While many of the items listed above are heavy and hearty, the key is to eat in much smaller portions. All of these things will fill you up, but you would be wise to avoid overeating any of them, of course. And while you can find some of these specific things in the U.S., they are certainly not easy to find, and when I have found them, it’s just not the same. So I’m still going to toss and turn in my sleep, dreaming of sausages and potatoes, until I can make my way back to Germany.
Carter Rosekrans is a senior at the College from East Lansing, Michigan, majoring in International Relations and minoring in Accounting. He spent a semester abroad in Freiburg, Germany and had previously taken a semester in Washington, D.C. with the W&M in Washington Program. On campus, he has a local internship with the National Center for State Courts, interviews prospective students for the Admissions Office, works on the Senior Class Gift Committee, and is active in a social fraternity. Read more of Carter’s blogging for the W&M network.