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.
Where in the U.S. do Americans usually go for their vacations? San Francisco, Disneyworld and New Orleans are prime picks. So where do Germans go for R & R in their own country? Luebeck (or Lubeck), a half-hour's drive from Hamburg, in northern Germany.
Known as the Venice of the North because of the waterways and canals, Luebeck is situated on the Baltic Sea, with historical ties back to Denmark. Consequently, Scandinavian influences and tourists are evident.
Luebeck was home to writer Thomas Mann, and some of its restaurants date back as far as the 17th Century. Imagine eating in a place that may have served your great, great, great, great grandfather! You can even see footsteps of cats and dogs in the masonry of the centuries-old streets.
Origins of foods are often difficult to pinpoint, but Luebeck claims to be the place where marzipan was invented. Marzipan, of course, is the confectionery that is molded into shapes of fruits, animals and ornaments, and colored so as to be almost unmistakable from the real thing. Legend has it that a local baker hit upon the idea during the famine of 1407. Having only four ingredients—sugar, almonds, eggs and rose water—he created the sweet confection known as marzipan. Tourists can get quick training in how to make and shape marzipan at many local bakeries, and the town's tourist office provides a list. The most famous marzipan maker is JG Niederegger, but the Marktplatz displays a fascinating variety of confectioners and their products.
By the way, the more commonly agreed upon origin of marzipan is as a confection of Middle East harems, and it is likely one of the numerous sea captains brought it to Luebeck. But it's not verified and romantically speaking, both origins are sweetly enticing.
For more information about Luebeck, read Chef Lothar Tubbesing's German Food: Today's Changes
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This page modified January 2007
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