Jason's Bistro

Cuisine German
Description German cuisine should be noted for fantastic baked goods. Heavy, rich foods and various preserved foods (pickled cabbage, sausage, etc.) are typical of "burgerlich" (bourgeois) cuisine, which wealthier homes have historically eaten.

Butter and rich foods such as cheese and sour cream are used to flavor dishes more than herbs and spices, but one of the classic accompaniments to home fries (Bratkartoffel) is Grüne Soße, which is made with a hefty quantity of fresh green herbs. Onions, leeks and garlic are also used frequently, but are sometimes viewed with skepticism by older people. 

Vegetarian Appeal Germany has perfected the art of bread. Austrian and German pastries, tortes, and cheesecakes are also dangerous potential addictions. Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Holland all produce great cheeses which are often used in German cooking.

Contemporary German cuisine emphasizes fresh ingredients and tends to be lighter than the classic bourgeois fare. Like many countries, the modern inventions frequently attempt to fuse ingredients or techniques from countries whose ingredients have increasingly become available. Vegetarian cuisine is increasingly popular, although the types 

Basic Ingredients Your pantry/refrigerator should feature:
  1. A supply of potatoes. Germans distinguish between soft-cooking (mehligkochend) and firm-cooking (festkochend) potatoes. Potatoes are usually peeled and boiled (recently, boiled and then peeled). Potatoes, in the grand scheme of things, are relatively recently introduced to European cooking (in the last 500 years), but are very frequently used in German cooking.
  2. A selection of gruyere (Greyerzer), edam (Edamer), and gouda cheeses. Other cheeses are widely used, but these three are essential, and can be eaten as snacks with some bread or crackers if you don't cook with them.
  3. Potato starch (or, optionally, cornstarch) is used for thickening sauces, although it's less important for vegetarian dishes.
  4. Butter. You may substitute olive oil or canola oil in many cases.

Other frequently used ingredients include:

  1. Quark (or Topfen). A yogurt-like dairy product used heavily in modern German cuisine, baked goods, and in classic dishes like fruit soups. Available in the organic section of many grocery stores in my area, your mileage may vary.
  2. Mushrooms. Oyster mushrooms (Austernpilze), button or crimini mushrooms (champignons). Gourmets might also seek out morels or truffles.
  3. Leafy vegetables. Chard (Mangold) and green or red cabbage are frequently used in cooking, and lettuces of various types are also common.
  4. Cruciferous vegetables including cauliflower and broccoli.
  5. Sauerkraut. Usually served as a side dish or garnish, this accompaniment is gradually disappearing among younger people.
Unusual ingredients American and German food have some common heritage, so many ingredients are available in the US.
  1. Fresh cheeses and raw-milk cheese.  Fresh cheeses don't travel well, and there are a number of fresh cheeses frequently consumed in Germany that haven't caught on in the U.S. Additionally, U.S. customs regulations forbid the import of un-pasteurized milk products.
  2. Whole milk yogurt. Actually, this isn't impossible to find in the U.S., but most yogurt sold in supermarkets is made with low-fat milk and thickeners such as gelatin, carrageen and starch. Whole milk yogurt was, when I lived in Germany, fairly easy to find, and has a much richer, creamier taste that is infinitely more satisfying. Germans also have two or three kinds of sour cream with different levels of fat (Sauersahne and Sauerrahm).
  3. Fresh white asparagus. The stalks of white asparagus can be woody and bitter, and are peeled carefully. White asparagus is more widely available in Germany and more affordable than green asparagus, and is preferred by many Germans because it has a stronger flavor.
A Typical Meal Germans have very different eating habits from one another, but some patterns are typical.

For breakfast, some fresh rolls or fresh bread can be served with butter and cheese or jam. Nutella, a hazelnut-chocolate spread, is also popular. Yogurt, granola-like "Muesli", and fresh fruit may also be found at the morning table. Northern Germans might wake up with a cup of East Frisian tea; coffee and tea are not uncommon.

A small sandwich or some other snack might be eaten around 10:30 in the morning as a second breakfast (zweite Frühstück).

Lunch is traditionally the largest meal of the day, especially among families who work in companies that still grant them two-hour lunch breaks (Mittagspause). Salad with a heavy dressing and some sauteed vegetables, perhaps with some kind of cheese, are common in a modern middle-class home.

In the afternoon, people with some time luxuries might take coffee or tea again with some German cakes, especially sheet cakes such as apple or plum cakes (Apfelkuchen, Pflaumenkuchen). Except at a restaurant, dessert-like foods are typically taken in the afternoon.

Dinner is usually somewhat light, although people often find this is the most convenient time to cook or go out to a restaurant. German families eat any number of European dishes at home, but the classic dinner would be bread with cheese, and, for non-vegetarians, sliced sausages and cold cuts (usually referred to as kalte Platte). Other popular options include home fries (Bratkartoffel), which might be served with a quark-based herb or garlic sauce.

Other popular dishes include dumplings, which are usually large balls of meats/cheese/vegetables in wheat-based dough suspended in animal-based soup broths. Some vegetarian variations have met with skepticism, but soy-based dumplings are one example served frequently as a vegetarian option in university cafeterias. I was never brave enough.

A Jagaimo.com Feature

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