Thursday, September 3, 2015

Loving Southern Germany 3: the Food

Wherever you live or visit, you should get familiar with the local cuisine, don't you think? I can assure you that if you think German cuisine consists merely of bratwurst, Sauerkraut, and beer, you have absolutely missed the mark. If you're into that, you can find the ingredients anywhere in Germany and order that in most German restaurants just like you can get a hamburger anywhere in America. But I don't recommend limiting yourself to that, especially in Swabia.

Germany is twice the size of my home state of Wisconsin (USA), and in fact Wisconsin and Illinois together are almost the size of Germany. I don't think there is a "midwest cuisine" at all, and certainly no difference in typical foods or dishes between Wisconsin and Illinois. There is, however, a great difference between typical dishes in northern Germany and those in the south, as well as between Bavarian and  Swabian cuisine.

I can't say much about typical food in northern Germany because I haven't spent much time there. But I can certainly tell you about some wonderful traditional dishes to try when you visit Swabia.

Swabians were poor once upon a time, and M still calls meals that are hearty, filling, and inexpensive "good Swabian meals," despite the fact that pork tenderloin and beef have slithered their way into several Swabian favorites. Swabians got good at using all parts of an animal - mainly pigs - including the organs, tough cuts, lard, and blood. Potatoes are cheap and filling, and some flour, eggs, salt and nutmeg can make enough Spätzle (homemade noodles) to go nicely with any dish with a sauce.

That's one more thing to mention about typical Swabian dishes - tons of sauce is part of the deal. In a recent short article in our local paper about Swabian food, the writer said Swabians are Nass-Esser (wet-eaters) - everything must be dunked in a broth or sauce.

Since Swabians seem happiest when they're working, nearly everyone with a yard or terrace has a garden, where they grow as many of their own fruits, vegetables, and herbs as possible. If they don't have a yard or terrace, they can rent a Schrebergarten. They like knowing where their food came from, how fresh it really is, and that it wasn't sprayed with chemicals. I love this idea, but I am an utter failure at keeping basil, parsley, and chives alive for more than 3 days. Yes, even chives. I keep forgetting to water them, and they die a slow an agonizing death that makes me feel horribly guilty.

But what are some examples of Swabian meals and snacks?

homemade Maultaschen, spread on my counter, ready for rolling and cutting 

Maultaschen (Swabian Ravioli) in broth with fried onions

Zwiebelrostbraten mit Bratkartoffeln
Beef, fried onions, and fried potatoes

Spätzle mit Soß / homemade Swabian noodles and sauce

Linsen und Spätzle mit Saitenwürstle
Lentils and Swabian noodles with sausage

Laugenweckle - amazingly delicious, especially with butter
Pretzels and pretzel rolls - with a soccer ball design during the soccer season
Sadly, I don't have pictures for all the fabulous (and some sketchy) Swabian dishes, but I'll list a few more and you can google them or order them in a Swabian restaurant while visiting.

Beilagen / sides:

 Kartoffelsalat (potato salad - Swabian potato salad is not the same as other potato salads!)
 Knöpfle (noodles in the shape of tiny turds buttons)
 Schupfnudeln (thick homemade noodles that are then fried, sometimes called Bubespitzle)

Hauptgänge / Main courses:

 Kässpätzle (homemade noodles with cheese, but anyone who calls this "mac n' cheese" should be excommunicated)
 Gaisburger Marsch (a type of stew)
 Bodenseefelchen (little fish caught from the Bodensee, or Lake Constance)

For the adventurous:

  saure Nierle  (sour kidneys)
  saure Kutteln  (sour tripe)
  Schwäbischer Wurstsalat (meat salad which includes blood sausage)

Readers who are familiar with Schwäbische Küche, what did I miss?

Loving Southern Germany 1: Beautiful Towns
Loving Southern Germany 2: The Landscape


  1. Anonymous4/9/15 22:15

    Add to that "Zwiebelkuchen", it goes very well with new wine at a Besenwirtschaft. And I guess "Hirnsuppe" is somewhat common - but I don't see myself eating that any time soon.

    1. I would have to add the brain soup to the "For the Adventurous" category. I don't see myself trying that, either. Zwiebelkuchen (onion cake - like a quiche) I'll try, though!