the appetizer:

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.

Destinations German castle  



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.

  • Northern European countries invaded each other frequently, with far less influence from other invaders like the Moors and Turks of Spain & Italy.
  • With a terrain that is fertile, bearing ample water sources and a productive climate, Germany is rich in beef and dairy cattle, sheep, and pigs.
  • Pork is a national favorite, used in more dishes than any other livestock.
  • Whereas meat is a precious commodity in other countries, it is abundant in Germany. This resulted in a different problem: the storage of meat.
  • Smoking, marinating and salting procedures were developed to store meat, leading to today's emphasis on sausages and preserved foods.
  • Game birds and rabbit are also traditional, as is the use of juniper berries, found in the lush evergreen forests. Mustard and horseradish (Meerrettich) are the most common condiments.

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.



Also visit our Austria section

German Recipes

from Cooking with Beer

from Black Forest Cuisine

from Kate's Global Kitchen

More German Recipes


Back to the main Germany page

Germany on Wikipedia

More country Destinations


This page modified January 2007

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