Its Complicated food
Beyond the stereotypes, a diverse eating experience
Does Munich serve beer, sausages and pretzels? Of course, but there's much more to German cuisine than what you'll find in Bavaria.
If you are looking for a hip report on new, exciting and mostly over-priced restaurants in Berlin, please stop reading now. There are countless amateur food bloggers out there that can, or most likely can, satisfy your hunger in that regard. No, this is a short story about the (mis)conception of German cuisine.
I was born into an English family living in Germany, a point of entry that automatically allows you to assess your home country from a more detached point of view. I moved abroad when I was 13, lived back in England until I was 24, and then have been back here in Germany for the last 11 years. During that time I have moved from Cologne to Berlin to Hamburg, which is my current residence.
When I first moved abroad, I attended an American School, and for the following 10 years I spent more time in the U.S. than any place else. During this time and through to today, I have steadily been confronted with German stereotypes — the food, beer and lederhosen.
Yet I've found, oddly enough, that the parallels and stereotypes between American and German Cuisine are uncanny, which is something I have happily gotten into over many a dinner and will also touch upon here.
So let's get one fact out of the way first. There is no “German” cuisine. Chances are, you, the reader, are not from here, so let me briefly explain. Germany is a Federal Republic of 16 states, similar to what you have in America. These 16 states have historically been individual countries with different cultures, religions, customs and food. Granted, you could take that further and break it down to the several hundred original earldoms, but no one wants to take it there when all we want to do is to debunk the beer, meat and lederhosen stigma.
Let’s be honest: when you think of German cuisine, the first thought that comes to mind will most likely involved mugs of beer, plates of meats and potatoes, and people wearing funny outfits slapping their thighs in beer tents.
This absolutely exists, but much like Deliverance takes part in the backwaters of Georgia, there is more to the country than that. No offense to Georgian cuisine; I actually find it pretty damn good.
To bring it closer to home for you, as a foreigner coming to the U.S., it’s pretty shocking to find out that not everyone likes pastrami sandwiches from Katz’s Delicatessen.
Roughly speaking, and specifically in terms of food, Germany can be divided into four different regions, the North, West, South and East. Within those areas, the cuisines vary greatly, from the northern shores that border Denmark, Holland and the North Sea; to the Western areas that have more in common with France and Belgium; to the Eastern states that reflect their history as potato and wheat farm country; to the South, which is a world in its own.
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