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Rudi Lechner’s Sattire: The History of German Food


apfel-strudelGermany has a storied history when it comes to German food. One full of celebrations, hard work, and food. Germany is very well known for the food that it produces. Well, known for being a bit pasty and fatty. Not Germany’s fault though, the variety of the German’s rural areas, or lack thereof, is the main problem. However, the lack of variety is partially addressed by the neighboring countries. Italy and France have had a big influence on German cuisine. So much so that the spices, cooking methods, and recipes of these countries have bled into Germany over time. Germany, however, has always added their own spin to the dish.

Way back in time, German food was very bland. We are talking about prehistoric times here, where they were very limited in the way of raw materials for their food. The climate was fairly restrictive in what was allowed. Wheat, barley, and pasture land made up much of what was available to Germany early on. Sheep, cows and goats were used for milk, butter and cheese and occasionally meat. Which was mostly used only for feasts. For spices there was parsley, celery, and dill.

Later, when Rome came and took much of Europe. Germany was introduced to new cultivation techniques as well as how to grow fruit trees. Agricultural methods became more sophisticated as well, and France and Italy started influencing German fare more and more. Soon the food around Cologne became especially diverse thanks to its status as a prominent trading city. This gave it easy access to a multitude of exotic spices, dishes, and other things to enhance the cuisine.

These days, Germans have plenty to work into their food. They can draw from a wealth of dishes in their past as well as working on new ways to make them. With trade being what it is, a lot of different spices have become prominent in Germany. Among them are mustard, horseradish, and juniper berries. Still, traditional foods are common fare in Modern Germany. Which is a tradition that I hope won’t change soon.

Germany has plenty of inspiration for its food. The history alone is plenty to go on, and more cuisines and choices have been added as time has passed. Right now Germany is a diverse culture with a proud heritage. A combination that is expressed in the food it serves to people. So that is the history of German cuisine. Did it make you hungry?

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A German Tradition For All: Oktoberfest is Almost Here


oktoberfest-rudi-lechnersWe are most of the way through September, and that means Oktoberfest is on the horizon! So what can we look forward to this year? Well not much has changed in the many years of Oktoberfest. It is still a festival measured in weeks, not day or hours. It is still all about the beer with a side of revelry. Two weeks celebrating beer, food, and fun. Did I forget to mention the food? It is pretty good. Here, let me tell you about some of it.

All of the foods served at Oktoberfest are traditional German fare. There are dishes such as chicken, roast pork, grilled ham hock, and delicious Steckerlfisch, or grilled fish on a stick. Also present during Oktoberfest are a large variety of sausages, pretzels, and potato dumplings. Kasespatzle, or a German macaroni and cheese is served during the festival as well as potato pancakes and sauerkraut. Bavarian dishes like Obatzda, a spiced scheese-butter spread, and Weisswurst are also served during Oktoberfest.

Now what kind of Oktoberfest would it be without the beer? There’s plenty available in the 2 weeks that Oktoberfest takes place. The beers that are allowed to be served at Oktoberfest have to conform to set regulation regarding the alcohol content as well as the location of the brewing, which happens to be inside the Munich city limit. Now under these criteria only a few breweries are allowed to brew the Oktoberfest Beer. These breweries are:

  • Augustiner-Brau
  • Hacker-Pschorr-Brau
  • Lowenbrau
  • Paulaner-Brau
  • Spatenbrau
  • Staatliches Hofbrau-Munchen

 

Since these restrictions are in effect, you won’t really be able to market your own beer during Oktoberfest. However this doesn’t mean there is going to be a shortage of beer in the tents.

The setting of Oktoberfest is a grand meadow called Theresienwiese, or “Meadow of Therese”. Here many of the patrons of the festival set up large tents for the purveyors of Oktoberfest. Small tents will also be set up to sell their fare to the fair goers. Sadly enough the prices of Oktoberfest have been increasing in recent years. Most of the beers have increased by two dollars over the last 10 years, although the increased prices have had no effects on attendance. Oktoberfest is still the largest peoples fair in the world.

So now that you know a little about how the Oktoberfest is going to go, I will be sure to see you there right? After all, it is going to be starting soon, and I can’t think of a single person that wouldn’t want to celebrate. So come on Oktoberfest, and let the fun begin!

German brezel

BREZEL: The Softer Version of the German Pretzel

A glazed, brittle biscuit that is usually salted on the outside and baked in the form of a loose knot or a stick. Brezel are soft, white pretzels, made from flour water and yeast, sprinkled with salt, and different seeds. They’re great snack, they’re in every bakery and street stands, sold plain, sliced, and buttered and sometimes served with cold meats and cheeses.

German brezelThe German word Brezel or Pretzel, which was borrowed into English, goes back to the assumed Medieval Latin word *brchitellum. This would accord with the story that a monk living in France or northern Italy first created the knotted shape of a pretzel, even though this type of biscuit had been enjoyed by the Romans.

The monk wanted to symbolize arms folded in prayer, hence the name derived from Latin bracchitus, “having branches,” itself from bracchium, “branch, arm.” Brezel baking has most firmly taken root in the region of Franconia and adjoining Upper German-speaking areas, and pretzels have been an integral part of German baking traditions for centuries.

In some areas, on January 1, people give each other lightly sweetened yeast pretzels for good luck and good fortune. These “New-Years pretzels” are made in different sizes and can have a width of 50 centimetres (20 in) and more. Sometimes children visit their godparents to fetch their New Years pretzel. On May 1, love-struck boys used to paint a pretzel on the doors of the adored.

On the other hand, an upside-down pretzel would have been a sign of disgrace. Especially Catholic areas, such as Austria, Bavaria or some parts of Swabia, the “Palm pretzel” is made for Palm Sunday celebrations. Sizes can range from 30 cm (1 ft) up to 1 m (3 ft 3 in) and they can weigh up to 2.5 kg (6 lbs).An old tradition on Palm Sunday dating back to 1533 is the outdoor pretzel market (Brezgenmarkt) in the Hungerbrunnen Valley near Heldenfingen

They’re a delicious combo of soft bread and salt, mmmmmm! Some prefer them with melted butter or even on the side of a nice ice cold beer! So if you enjoy the occasional beer or two every now and then I’d recommend you eat one of these soft salty treats along with it! Make it a new tradition with your family on New Years Eve! Bring good fortune to yourself and eat something that tastes amazing too!

 

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