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Getting Started in German Food

Learning About the Many Kinds of German Food


Simple, Old Fashioned and Modern - Gutbürgerlich, Altmodisch, Modern


Many people want to cook German food out of nostalgia. They ate it at Omi’s (Grandma’s) house and loved the fact that it was your basic comfort food, and delicious, too. Omi may have left behind a recipe or two, but now you want more.

The Unknown

Other people are looking for new ideas and ways to prepare food at home, or to broaden their cultural horizons. Food is a great way to do that because you can learn a lot about a people by seeing and tasting what they eat and how it’s prepared. We have long looked to Asia and Southern cuisines for inspiration, but we have slowly started to look back at wonderful places like Germany as we run out of Chinese noodle recipes to try. The History of German cuisine is a good place to learn about the roots of German recipes.

Restaurant Meals

Going out to a modern German or Austrian or Swiss restaurant (in Europe) is a great experience. If you get a chance, go there for the food, alone! Whereas American restaurants go out of their way to serve ethnic food (Mexican, Italian, Chinese, etc.) and chain restaurants dominate the scene (Olive Garden, Chili’s), the privately-owned German restaurant serves up its own German cuisine, often with a twist. More fresh, seasonal foods like pumpkin, kale, parsley root and asparagus have the lead role in their menus. Interesting cuts of meat are offered, including more wild game and fresh water fish, and the chefs play with age-old ingredients to turn them into surprising and fun foods, like pumpernickel ice cream!

Why It's Different

The modern German kitchen at home serves up a lot of the dishes we make, like noodles, salad, meatballs, etc. But the German Hausfrau or -mann (housewife or husband) uses cheeses like Gruyère and Gouda, not Monterey Jack and Cheddar. S/he often whips up a salad dressing in the bottom of the salad bowl from scratch, and s/he adds whole grated nutmeg to her mashed potatoes, instead of black pepper. Subtle differences that add up to a whole new way of thinking about feeding your family. German cooking can be an enriching experience and some of these ideas are sure to find their way into your regular routine!

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