Think of German cuisine and you probably think of sausages, sauerkraut and beer. But Germany's central location in Europe has made it a melting pot of culinary influences, from Italian pasta to the popular Döner kebab invented by Turkish immigrants.
From Teutonic tribes, Holy Roman Emperors, and numerous alliances and divisions, Germany has been a major player in the history of Europe. Physically, it sits smack dab in the middle of the continent and enjoys fertile, prosperous terrain. At one time or other, the German nation consisted of the same countries that now surround it: France, Poland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Denmark, Russia and Austria. As such, the culinary attributes of each are mutually shared on their adjoining borders. Today, an influx of Turks and Italians are contributing to the mix of tastes and techniques.
Frederick the Great (king of Prussia) had a role in establishing some of Berlin's traditional foods after he ordered his subjects to eat cucumbers and potatoes in the 18th century, because they were cheap and fit the frugal Prussian lifestyle. They remain favorites in Berlin along with rustic and hearty dishes using pork, goose, fish, peas, and beans.
Typical Berliner dishes include Currywurst (a fast-food dish consisting of hot pork sausage cut into slices and seasoned with curry sauce—invented in Berlin in 1949), the corresponding Ketwurst, Eisbein and the Berliner (which however is known as a Pfannkuchen, not a Berliner, in Berlin). One renowned dish that actually bears the name of Berlin is Berlin style liver (Leber Berliner Art); floured liver with apples and onions. Turkish immigrant workers have brought their culinary traditions to the city, for example the döner kebab, which has become a common fast-food staple—its modern fast-food version was invented in Berlin in 1971.
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This page modified January 2007
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