I think we can all agree that Germany is a country renowned for many, many positives such as having a powerhouse economy, producing high quality consumer products and a culture of walking on paved roads with cross-country walking sticks and not caring if they look really weird. Need I jog your memory by mentioning Mercedes Benz, Audi or Miele? But when it comes to food, even I, a stout defender of all things German, have to pause. There really is a good bad and ugly side to German food.
Germany has to be the world’s best at making bread. Germany is bread central. If a substance can be made into bread, then a German has probably already done it. Potato bread, corn bread, wheat bread, rye bread, pumpkin bread, you name it. Bread with flavour and texture. Who knew it was even possible?
And cakes. There is a reason that the Black Forrest cake is world famous, and not just because of the highly alcoholic cherry water, or should I say, ‘cheery water’, that the original contained. German cakes are amazing. There seems to be no shame amongst German cake makers and they will pile on fresh cream and chocolate with guilt free abandon. They taste as good as they look too. Have you ever eaten a cake that looked amazing but was like munching through a dish washing sponge? Not here, these cakes are light and are so tasty they have an aroma.
I really am sorry, but salads in Germany remind me of the type of salads Australians ate in the 60’s and 70’s. That is, before Italian food was fully embraced. Or before a lot of very fine cooks from Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia came to our shores and quite frankly greatly enhanced the experience of living in Australia by introducing us to their food.
Salads in Germany are almost without exception drowned in mayonnaise. The exception to this is the ever popular sliced luncheon meat salad (that is polony for those of you in Perth, Western Australia). But your regular salad usually has some lonely vegetable in the bottom of the bowl swimming gallantly in a sea of mayonnaise. Often that vegetable is potato.The traditional Christmas dinner in Germany is sausages and potato salad. It’s eaten on Christmas Eve, which is when Germans celebrate Christmas. It’s often very cold over here at that time and the traditional dish is a salad. Strange but true.
They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder but I challenge anyone to find these guys beautiful. Pork knuckles. They are delicious but ugly. Salami is yummy but again, not that pretty so I am adding it this this category too. Germans are very good at making salami, maybe because it is a variant of sausage, I don’t know.
So it has been a learning experience for me to eat in Germany. I have learnt that I have embraced the Asian culinary traditions you find in Australia far more than I realised. I have learnt never to eat at an Indian restaurant in Germany because they cook food which tastes like stew to my bewildered taste buds. When we asked an Indian restaurant owner about it he explained that Germans don’t like spices so they don’t put it into their food. OK, but isn’t that like going to a steak restaurant which is vegetarian, or a pizza place that doesn’t serve flat bits of baked dough with toppings??
Ah, never mind, I’ll just have a very fine German beer or two and everything will taste better.