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German food - undeserved bad reputation

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Along with British food, German food is constantly getting slammed. While it may not be my number one choice if I could have only one cuisine for the rest of my life, it's just not as bad as people make it out to be. My family is German and whenever we go there we have some good eats: sauerbraten & spaetzle, wild boar ragout, fried camembert with lingonberries, trout with slivered almonds, red currant tart. All very typical. In southern Germany you also find "Maultaschen" - like large ravioli. Any other favorites out there?

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  1. I don't know where you live, (I've lived all over the US) but I have never heard of German food being "slammed" or having a bad reputation. The only 'rep' I have heard about it is that it can be solid, heavy, or comfort food.

    5 Replies
    1. re: JMF

      There have been a lot of posts on this forum slamming German food. A lot.

      1. re: therealbigtasty

        Not just on here but in general people usually don't have good things to say about German food I guess it's becasue they haven't had good German food. I really enjoy it and was a cook in a German restaurant for a couple of years. the people I have heard talk about it says it "boring and tasteless" . I disagree

      2. re: JMF

        And Italian or Mexican or Burgers aren't "heavy"?!?

        1. re: TheDesertBaroness

          I wouldn't say that Italian and Mexican have reputations of being as protein driven as German cuisine.

      3. German food = bad rep? Never heard that before. The fraulein in my life for 3 years made rouladen every other Sunday that was memorable (as was she). But I pass on the blood sausage...

        2 Replies
        1. re: Veggo

          Blutwurst was the only thing I couldnt stomach during a year in Berlin too.

          1. re: kare_raisu

            You don't like Blutwurst ? I would have expected from your posts htat there is hardly anyhting you don't like. And Blutwurst is really good. What do you don't like at Blutwurst ?

        2. My wife is German and better than that Bavarian, the food in Germany is really delicious and I also have not heard of it being "slammed" here. What I do see here is not many authentic German restaurants in the USA or at least not in my area. If you are interested in a perfect place to get some authentic German food online I have located a place that has the best. They even import pretzels from bavaria to you door - www.bavariasausage.com

          One thing you never hear is how American Beer compares to German, thats because it doesn't !!!

          Prost - Jim

          2 Replies
          1. re: Jimbosox04

            I think it would be great to see Germany's regional dishes a bit more represented in the US. The diversity of the many (16?) states in Germany is really astounding, coupled with the dynamics of the Ost-West years - you really begin to see some intriguing dishes. I mean the cuisine of Mecklenburg-VorPommern on the Baltic sea when compared against what you could be eating in the Saarland or Thuringen could not be more different.

            One of my hobbies while living as an exchange student in Berlin was learning about "Ostologie" or East German Culture [heavy influence of slavic dishes during these years a la soliyanka].. If you ever get a chance to see Goodbye Lenin! you can get an Idea of what this subject entails. One of my favorite food-related parts of this film is when the son cannot find Spreewalder Gurken (Pickles from Brandenburg's Spreewald region) buys the only thing available [Holland pickles] and meticolously places them in the old jars.

            1. re: Jimbosox04

              Great reply! A lot of people do not know anything about east german cuisine and they have some really good stuff, like in Sachsen.

            2. Well I'm not huge fan of German food. I believe that traditionally the largest ethnic minority in the US is German while the second I believe is Irish. Moreover, our nation was founded by English colonists. Yet despite these advantages in both time and numbers (versus other cuisines) our cuisines of choice in the US today (amongst both Chow and non-Chow alike) rarely includes German or English or Irish food. It is much more likely to be French or Italian or Mexican. This is true for one obvious reason; the former three just aren't as good.
              So I agree that German food isn't "slammed" or called "bad" often, it is simply irrelevant.

              26 Replies
              1. re: Chinon00

                It is that I have found a relevant part in the Wisconsin area. As far as Irish not being relevant, well you must take a trip to Boston my friend. Obvious reasons that French and Mexican as you mention are such an influence to this society is the borders. What bothers me most about the American views on German food is that it is much more than sausage and sauerkraut but unless people have experienced it themselves they live rather closeminded to the rest. As I notice no comment on the german beers, most being a meal amongst themselves. Anyone try Rouladen ??

                1. re: Jimbosox04

                  This is the second mention of 'Rouladen', my grandmother was German, but I don't recall her ever making this dish. What is it?

                  1. re: jackrugby

                    Rouladen is a rolled flank steak stuffed with Bacon, Onion, and Pickles. Do a search for it and give a recipe a try. You will not be disappointed.

                    1. re: Jimbosox04

                      I had no idea that's what it's called, as I only know the Czech term for it. It's fantastic. My mom puts a few carrot and celery sticks in addition to the above. It's especially good served with a sauerbraten sauce and bread dumplings.

                  2. re: Jimbosox04

                    Rouladen is a great dish. Then there are the seven-grain breads, Nuernbergerwurst, Schweinhaxen, and lots of other great dishes. I don't personally think German cuisine is nearly as good as something like Chinese cuisine, but I've always enjoyed it.

                    1. re: raytamsgv

                      AH man that is understandment - with those dill pickles and a side o' rotkohl OMG good.

                      1. re: raytamsgv

                        Man, I'd give a small organ to have a decent Schweinhaxen...

                        I can still taste the one I had in Munich two years ago. Crunchy thick skin and soft delicious meat...wow.


                    2. re: Chinon00

                      "Irish'' food is all over the US, usually in the form of pubs, taverns, etc. In the Washington, DC area , there seems to be at least one in every neighborhood. Having never been to Ireland, I do not claim authenticity.

                      1. re: Steve

                        Irish "pubs" are all over the US. And you do not regularly hear in the US the following: "hey, we're going out for Irish food tonight!" or "We're ordering Irish take-out, want anything?" or "I could really go for a {fill in the Irish dish} for lunch". The same thing goes for English and German.
                        Question: When you go to an "Irish Pub" in the US what do you and your friends typically order to eat?

                        1. re: Chinon00

                          Some eat bangers and mashers- but I think you are gonna get banged and mashed for your jaundiced 'tude! :)

                          1. re: Chinon00

                            Gee that an easy one being Irish and all, a Guiness and Potato Skins !!!! ;-)

                            Nothing better wets the whistle

                            1. re: Chinon00

                              Furthermore, Irish "pubs" in the US serve Irish-American fare, as well as some bar staples. It's all more continental than anything else. Now, if I found a pub that served periwinkles... then...

                          2. re: Chinon00

                            German food is hardly irrelevant, chinon00. The German immigrants to the US didn't stay clustered on the East Coast. They spread throughout the US and the Great Plains as early as the 1700s and their food is the basis for much of what we can refer to as American food today. Texas barbeque, cole slaw, chicken and dumplings, chicken fried steak, American style pancakes, many of baked goods especially Christmas cookies, pickles, sausages, and beer. There was a lot of homogenization as Germans intermarried and even more during WWI and II as Germans hid their ways and stopped speaking their language due to prejudices. The roots are there.
                            The food of the South and the upper East Coast is largely based on British food but we've come to accept that as American food as well. It isn't pure any longer because of successive waves of immigrants..
                            Other immigrant groups came later, didn't spread out in the same way so they've retained more of their identities. Large groups of Italians, Hispanics and Jews arrived in the 20th century - much later than Germans.
                            Timelines and settlement patterns determined more than the relative merits of the cuisines.

                            1. re: MakingSense

                              That's a really good point about barbecue (REAL bbq, not "grilling") and chicken fried steak being German inspired. Most people only probably think of German food as wursts, schnitzels, sauerkraut & cabbage. But there is definitely a lot of German influence in Texas.

                              I think that's probably why barbecue and CFS go so well with beer too. I kinda like Ayinger myself.

                              1. re: luniz

                                There's German influence everywhere when you think about it. Big cities like St. Louis, Milwaukee, Chicago, etc.and small towns all over the country. Germans long ago dispersed throughout the US and are less noticeable even though more Americans claim German heritage than any other. Doesn't get much attention because the big coastal cities with food media have large ethnic enclaves that get more attention. Germany has never been as chic as France or Italy as a travel destinations.
                                Most of our Christmas traditions are German. Beer brewing before it went corporate. Breads and rolls. It's all there when you know what to look for and aren't turning up your nose at American food and its heritage.

                              2. re: MakingSense

                                I will not question your facts about the influence of German immigrants on traditional American cuisine. However, there is a coherent “German” cuisine that exists today. And today we are now enjoying cuisine from just about everywhere in the world. So in this present climate why doesn’t German cuisine more often “roll off of the tongue” as a suggestion for an evening out? Why is there such a mediocre representation of this particular cuisine on the American food scene? If the answer is a lack of immigrants you don’t require actual Germans to make good German food do you? Why have so few restaurateurs seized upon this idea?

                                1. re: Chinon00

                                  I doubt it's an immigrant issue. And you are so right...it's so rare to find a German restaurant in places. You can usually find plenty of Chinese, Italian, Thai, Indian, etc. but German food (schnitzel, kraut, wursts...) are so underrepresented in the restaurant world.
                                  Makes me wonder if it has anything to do with people still feeling strange about WWII? I know, it's a far-fetched thought, but possible.
                                  I'm from German heritage myself and I can't say that I've eaten in a German restaurant more than twice. There was only one I knew of back in a 30 mile radius of my old home.

                                  1. re: QueenB

                                    It all depends on your surroundings. Being in NYC, we have several German options. Howver, German fine dining is very difficult to find. Most of what we have here is based on the beer garden style of restaurant. Current favorites in NYC are Zumm Stammtisch, Lederhosen and Silver Swan.

                                    1. re: MaspethMaven

                                      One of the most famous restaurants in New York, closed I believe in the '70s or '80s, was German: Lüchow's, a big favorite with the theatre, music and literary elite. I have a copy of their cookbook, illustrated by longtime patron Ludwig Bemelmans, and practically every recipe is prefaced by the name of some celebrity whose favorite dish this was. The music professional association ASCAP was founded at a meeting in a corner booth by the composer Victor Herbert and some other regulars.

                                      The "German" cooking I grew up with was German-accented Midwestern - my grandpa Kuntz was from a large Mennonite clan in central Illinois, and an excellent cook in a family of them. One of the most glorious culinary experiences of my childhood was a Kuntz-Huffman combined family reunion, which completely took over a large city park in Hoopeston, Illinois. A sea of picnic tables under the trees, each spread with its own feast, and each available to any family member. I walked from table to table, introducing myself - "Oh, you're Betty's boy, that's Walt's daughter, right? Want some chicken?" Surely this is what Heaven is like...

                                      1. re: Will Owen


                                        I've always wanted to try making the Luchow's hamburger, but I have no source for kidney fat.

                                    2. re: QueenB

                                      This was not always the case. If you go back and look at guidebooks for the major cities from, say, about the turn of the last century through up to midcentury, you find a plethora of German restaurants at every level, as well represented as Italian and French. One by one, however, they seem to be disappearing. The two wars probably have had some effect, as have the dispersal of a fairly early immigrant group from its city neighborhoods, but it's a phenomenon (i.e.the disappearance of German restaurants) hat has continued up to the present). Since the seventies we've lost in Chicago Zum Deutschen Eck, Red Lion Inn, Golden Ox, Heidelberger Fass, and now Berghoff. These restaurants and their food were obviously very popular at one time. Perhaps it's time for a revival. One positive note: Julius Meinl has opened in North Chicago, and is looking to spread out. Perhaps coffee, Viennese pastry, and schlag is a good place to start.

                                      1. re: jbw

                                        I, too, live in Chicago and often bemoan the loss of Zum and the Golden Ox. But we still have Laschetts and Resis, which I consider a blessing. I just wish I could find a liver dumpling soup similar to the Ox. Or their Friday night buffet. Man oh man was that good. Sigh.

                                2. re: Chinon00

                                  Point #1... most "Real" American cuisine is based on German dishes (right in line with the fact that German is likely the biggest genetic contributor to this country)... so maybe there is a little self hate going on.

                                  Point #2... I think a lot of Americans have gotten stuck in tourist traps in Germany 10 years ago and that is what is remembered.

                                    1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                      I lived in Germany for a couple of years, and in almost all the eating places the food was wonderful, from the upscale restaurants to the schnellimbiss streetfood level. Aaahh, those nice big white bratwursts served all over in Frankfurt!

                                    2. re: Chinon00

                                      Nothing could be farther from the truth. The vast majority of food that you consider to be American is renamed German food. I am talking about bbq meat, the vast majority of our breads, cheeses, cakes, desserts, holiday cookies, Boston cream pies, pretzels, hamburgers, goulashes, hot dogs, mustards, pickled foods, schnitzel, corn beef and cabbage, reubens, beef on weck, beans and franks, sausages, white hots, almost all of our beer is a pale immitation, not to mention the craft beer industry has been dominated by German immigrants, sauerkraut, red cabbage, coleslaw, and the Amish, Pennsylvania Dutch (Deutsche), and Mennonite community foods. This is only a small portion of a much larger list that I could name.

                                    3. Love much of it, but have a particular affection for weisswurst with franiskaner's dunkel.


                                      1 Reply
                                      1. As with any other cuisines, German food can be the stuff dreams are made of, or nightmares!!!! Depends upon the cook, doesn't it?

                                        My experiences are mostly positive. I love schnitzel, spaetzle, Sauerbraten..... yum!

                                        When I lived in Milwaukee we regularly dined at either Kalt's or John Ernst's. Too bad neither exists today.

                                        1. Love German food. Last time I went to the Tropentag (Tropical Agriculture Day--actually several days) in Berlin, 50% of the motive was eating along the Orangutangstrasse (yes, I know...just what I call it) and to again go to the food court in KaDeWa!

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. Mmmmmm spaetzle and jagerschnitzel. My favorites.

                                            I used to go to a microbrewery festival every year in PA, where the lunch buffet was called "Best of the Wurst". Bratwurst, knockwurst, etc. Complete with homemade beer bread, sauerkraut and pickled red cabbage.

                                            9 Replies
                                            1. re: QueenB

                                              I myself have VERY limited experience with German food, yet what little I've had, I've LOVED! I especially love Rahm (?) Schnitzel, spaetzle, and red cabbage. I would LOVE to taste and learn more about German food, but- I've said this before - I am in maybe the WORST place to try to find it: Southern California, L.A. area. I know there are a few restaurants scattered around, but very few and far between, unfortunately.

                                              1. re: aurora50

                                                Do what I do: go to Schreiner's Deli up in Montrose and get your own ingredients. I get most of the stuff for my annual choucroute garni there; the hard part is resisting the urge to get some of everything! Their smoked pork loin is awfully good, and I figure cheaper than buying fresh and smoking it yourself: under $3/lb last time I looked. Lots of good sausages, German mustards and wines, and the full range of products by that local (and excellent) sauerkraut maker whose name I am completely forgetting...!

                                                1. re: Will Owen

                                                  That sounds great, Will. I will check it out sometime -- maybe use some of those ingredients using monkeyrotica's Luchow cookbook!! ; )

                                                  1. re: Will Owen

                                                    Schreiner's deli in the '50s was the deli of my childhood dreams. I remember going in there as a small kid and being handed a slice of wurst. Most of all, I remember the smell of the place. Whenever I enter a German or Polish deli, it takes me right back to Schreiner's. I've been in there recently, since the family still lives in La Canada, and they're modernized it, of course. They USED to sell a braunschweiger with pistachios that made me swoon, but don't know if they have it anymore. Wish time transport were possible, because I'd surely like to go back to Schreiner's for a few minutes in 1955-58.

                                                    1. re: Will Owen

                                                      Schreiner's Deli is great... as is Jagerhaus in Anaheim.

                                                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                        I can't wait to try all of these suggestions - they sound wonderful!
                                                        And as for a German deli in Montrose - who knew!!

                                                        1. re: aurora50

                                                          Heh, wait until you step into the Swedish bakery next door.

                                                          1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                            OMG, there's a Swedish bakery there, too?? Is it anything like the bakeries in Solvang?

                                                    2. re: aurora50

                                                      See if you can find a copy of 'The New German Cookbook," by Jean Anderson and Hedy Wurz. Copyright is 1993, so don't know if it's in print still. I've found it to be a very good resource.

                                                  2. Track down a copy of the Luchow's Restaurant Cookbook. Good stuff. They were famous for their Boiled Beef: basically, beef ribs with carrots, turnips, parsnips, boiled with bouquet garni and served with horseradish mayonnaise. Who woulda thought a bucket of boiled meat and vegetables could taste so good. And you've got beef stock for consomme.

                                                    5 Replies
                                                    1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                      MMMM...sounds great! : ) Thanks for the tip, monkeyrotica!!

                                                      1. re: aurora50

                                                        It's available online for as little as $6. It's a great snapshot of little piece of New York cuilinary history long gone.


                                                        1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                          Thank you so much!! : ) I will not fail to get it.

                                                      2. re: monkeyrotica

                                                        Do you enjoy Mimi Sheraton's cookbook? We got them as freebies from Lufthansa several years ago.

                                                        1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                          I'm glad to hear that cookbook is known... My mom got it in a big auction box and gave it to me.

                                                          It's some good reading.

                                                        2. German food in the U.S. seems pretty unhealthy and boring. I can't think of the last time I ate it, unless you count the chicken-fried steak in Texas hillcountry. Food in Germany itself was good, though. We especially enjoyed:

                                                          sauerbraten with prune sauce
                                                          venison with lingonberries
                                                          salmon with white asparagus
                                                          beef with mushrooms and bacon ("the hunter's special")
                                                          rabbit with morels. Mmmmm, morels....

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Glencora

                                                            There is nothing like a little comfort food on a cold New England day. I like a wild mushroom soup with some bread dumplings, and believe it or not, that is German too, better known in Bavaria as Schwammerl Suppe and Semmelknoedel.

                                                          2. While I've heard of German food being kind of heavy, I've not heard of it being bad. When we visit some family in Ft Lauderdale, we love going to a German restaurant there. The food is authentic and delicious.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Den

                                                              its not christmas without dresdener stollen...

                                                            2. Ich habe hunga!

                                                              Jfood used to travel to Duesseldorf often and one dish not mentioned here, which was a favorite, is Sweinehassen. It's, for lack of a better description, the Osso Bucco of German cuisine. Beautifully braised, with some red cabbage, some potatoes and beer brewed in the basement and you have pig heaven. Down south the weisswurst is also fantastic.

                                                              If in NYC try Hallo Berlin a street cart that imports his wursts from Germany. Das ist gut!!

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: jfood

                                                                Agree! I have had this with lentils and it's an experience.

                                                                1. re: kare_raisu

                                                                  I've had lovely food in Germany, but I was mostly in the wine-growing regions along the Rhine, so very similar food to Alsace. The family of tarts including the quiche and tarte Alsacienne are all also found on the German side.

                                                                  Sweetie is German, but since he is of Jewish origin, albeit secular, absolutely no craving for blood sausage of the French (Boudin) or German (Blutwurst) types.

                                                                  On that subject, not exactly accurate that "Jewish" immigrants arrived in North America later than Germans, as the first were either Sephardic or the rather larger group of German-speaking Jews from Germany, Austria and elsewhere in Central Europe - of course the Yiddish-speaking immigration form Eastern Europe that followed was much larger.

                                                                  Modern German food is much lighter than the traditional kind. I live in Québec and our traditional food, based on the cooking of the provinces of Northern France, with Amerindian and British/Irish apports and adapted to farming and forestry in very bitter weather, was very heavy indeed. Computer slaves can't eat that in Munich or in Montréal.

                                                                  As for ravioli, they seem to be an Alpine food, disputed among Southern Germany, Austria, Northern Italy and no doubt other countries in the area.

                                                                  One thing I will emphasise in modern Germany is the excellent, organic bread and produce, readily available.

                                                                  And what of immigrant food - the ubiquitous Döner Kebab?

                                                                2. re: jfood

                                                                  I believe what you are trying to say is Schweinhaxn (pork knuckle). I real good place for that in Munich is HaxenBauer, very close to MarienPlatz.

                                                                  1. re: Jimbosox04

                                                                    That's the ticket. In Duesseldorf there is a wonderful little bar about five blocks from the holiday inn that makes beer downstairs and serves at communal tables. It was a regular stop for Jfood when in town.

                                                                3. I also love sauerbraten & spaetzle! Fullerton, years ago, had a wonderful German restaurant called Hofbrauhaus. I miss it; they had great German pub food. Fortunately, there's Jagerhaus "down the street" in Anaheim.

                                                                  Ich habe rahm schnitzel, bitte!

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: OCAnn

                                                                    OMG OCAnn, are you talking to me??? Regarding my earlier post??? If so, I can't believe I actually understand what you're telling me - I think - that Jagerhaus has the Rahm Schnitzel I want??
                                                                    (And I don't speak German!!!) ; )

                                                                    1. re: aurora50

                                                                      =) I don't speak German either, but I can order in it. Yes, Jagerhaus (www.jagerhaus.net ) has rahm schnitzel.

                                                                  2. German desserts don't get a bad rap. Their pastries are especially revered (for good reason). Personally, I like any dessert involving words like "schlag" and "quark"

                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Yaqo Homo

                                                                      *groan* what I wouldn't do for some quark right now! Mixed up with chives and schmeared on some Vollkornbrot. Haven't had any since I left Germany, though I have heard that Vermont Butter and Cheese Company makes some. Any good?

                                                                      While I don't want to slag on German desserts, I always thought it was the German-speaking Austria that took the cake (pun intended) for desserts. What I did love was that their schlag was unsweetened: just plain old cream that was whipped.

                                                                      1. re: thinks too much

                                                                        Yes, Vienna for cake. I don't care much for cake, though. On the other hand, I remember very good sundaes in Germany. Barely sweetened whipped cream, really good ice cream, a cookie and some kind of booze...

                                                                        1. re: Glencora

                                                                          Eiscaffe!! Spaghetti Eis - all incredibly delicous!

                                                                          1. re: torta basilica

                                                                            I was just explaining to a young (13 y.o.) friend of mine that I was craving some Spaghetti Eis. He looked kind of repulsed at the concept. But all those lovely ice cream parlors in Germany are run by Italians, who return back south in October and stay there for the winter.

                                                                            I miss the European concept of an icecream cone. Small enough to not ruin your appetite, and conservative enough to see people in suits walking along with one in hand. Many American ice-cream cones, waffles especially, only seem to match someone in a t-shirt.

                                                                    2. In terms of "cuisine" some cultures do better in certain areas than others.
                                                                      For me great Cheeses come from:
                                                                      - France
                                                                      - British Isles
                                                                      - Italy
                                                                      - Netherlands

                                                                      Great Beer comes from:
                                                                      - British Isles
                                                                      - Belgium
                                                                      - Czech/GERMANY
                                                                      - Quebec
                                                                      - United States

                                                                      Great Wine comes from:
                                                                      - France
                                                                      - Italy
                                                                      - United States

                                                                      Great Breads and Bakery Items come from:
                                                                      - GERMANY/Austria
                                                                      - Italy
                                                                      - France
                                                                      - Switzerland
                                                                      - Belgium

                                                                      Great Whisk(e)y comes from:
                                                                      - Scotland
                                                                      - Ireland
                                                                      - United States
                                                                      - Japan

                                                                      Great Cuisine comes from:
                                                                      - China
                                                                      - France
                                                                      - India

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Chinon00

                                                                        I can see Pandora's being re-named Chinon00's box. So I'll go first:

                                                                        Great cheeses come from: France, Italy, UK

                                                                        Great beer comes from: all over the world

                                                                        Great wine comes from: France, Italy, Spain, United States, Chile, Australia, South Africa, Argentina

                                                                        Great breads and bakery Items come from: Germany, India, France

                                                                        Great whisky comes from: Scotland

                                                                        Great cuisine comes from: China, France, India, Italy, Mexico, Japan, Thailand, Morocco, Vietnam, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Spain, Laos, Korea, ...

                                                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka


                                                                          I had the best pastries on the planet while visiting Frankfurt three years ago. Wonderful Tea/Coffee houses there. We were there for Christmas and New Years so we had rabbit stew (told my son it was chicken- that was the funniest part of Christmas dinner, keeping the secret from the U.S. boy).

                                                                          I have a bias having spent grade 3-grade 12 learning German in school in Chicago. Even dubbed with a German name "Eva." Had a "Tante Marianne" from Germany as well.

                                                                          So despite being very pigment enhanced (African American), I have a special place in my heart for all things German.

                                                                          Great food comes from whereever you can find great cooks (even in Britain and other places that people harp about). Too easy to malign a cuisine or culture. Besides with people moving from all over to all over, it is increasingly difficult to label a cuisine by country.

                                                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                            I've traveled to Germany (Stuttgart, Bayern) and have really enjoyed some of the food. But I can't recall having had a truly memorable German meal anywhere. It can be solid but apparently we agree that "great" cuisine does not come out of Germany (or Ireland or England). I don't argue that a number of people here do enjoy these cuisines though and I wouldn't tell them that they're wrong for liking them.

                                                                        2. I wonder if we don't go out or order in German food the same way we would Italian or Chinese b/c it is so similar to the "regular" food we eat. They have versions of many things we eat in the US; hotdogs, hamburgers, sausages, meatloaf, noodles, soups and stews.

                                                                          A great resource is "German Cookery" by Elizabeth Schuler; it is a German cookbook translated into English (complete with familiar measurements).

                                                                          I admit that when I moved to Germany I wasn't particularly looking forward to the food; but I have now spent a year and a half here and am a true German food convert.

                                                                          And it isn't just the dishes themselves, it is the attitude towards food here that I love. Household kitchens are generally small (I call mine my Barbie dream kitchen) because the emphasis is on fresh food. We live in a small town where I walk to the bakery and butcher shop for some of the best pastries and meat I've ever had. There are still weekly farmers markets in nearly all towns, with stands of local produce, cheese, meat, seafood, and spices. Mealtime is an event here; meals are to be enjoyed and not rushed through. In restaurants you won't be given your check until you ask for it.

                                                                          And there is nothing like the German tradition of a leisurely cake and coffee, with friends or a good book. As a matter of fact, I think I'll head to the bakery now for a milch cafe and rhubarb pastry.

                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Foodie in Friedberg

                                                                            I think you've hit the nail on the head! I think many of those who find German food stolid and boring find American food dull too and seek new thrills in ethnic foods - Mexican, Chinese, Indian, Middle Eastern, whatever, as long as it isn't what they grew up with. Trendy is OK, classic isn't. Some countries are chic, others aren't.

                                                                            Like you, I didn't anticipate arriving in a culinary nirvana but I was delighted with German and Austrian food. We ate in restaurants, stayed with friends in cities and in their country homes, helped cook, shopped in stores and farmers' markets, hunted for mushrooms in forests, and generally had the same epiphany that you describe. German and Austrian food may seem close to American food when you take the lifestyle out of the equation but we loved it. The quality and freshness is extraordinary. Except for some strange laws on store closing days and hours, we were converts like you.
                                                                            Seems to me that the quality of what's available in Germany and culinary lifestyle are what so many people are seeking in the US today. Not to mention some of the best coffee in the world.

                                                                            1. re: MakingSense

                                                                              I’d say over the past 25 years or so the cuisines/foods that to my observation have really taken off in America include:


                                                                              And they are popular with a cross section of people. My mother for example who is no “foodie” has been into Thai and sushi for at least ten years now. Now, I guess that at some point and for some people these were considered "chic" and were a “curiosity”. But as I stated earlier it’s been a while now since these cuisines/foods have hit the mainstream; many have been available at the supermarket for years. The novelty must have worn off by now right? So what keeps them so popular?

                                                                              Fashion can be a factor in terms of the popularity of certain cuisines and restaurants. But competition weeds out the pretenders. So let’s face it; certain cuisines haven’t competed (or just can’t compete) as well as others.

                                                                              1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                I mentioned cuisines of China, France, India, Italy, Mexico, Japan, Thailand, Morocco, Vietnam, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Spain, Laos, and Korea.

                                                                                These are popular not because of novelty or fashion but because they: a) include really good food, b) are long evolved, c) feature distinctive combinations of ingredients and flavors, and d) (some) require often complex techniques that can take years to really master.

                                                                                Also, I think you would be very surprised at the many very good wines and beers being produced all over the globe.

                                                                            2. re: Foodie in Friedberg

                                                                              Agree, Foodie in Friedberg. Another reason German food might not be marketed as such is because it's hard to know where German cuisine begins and another cuisine ends. So rather than get into debates about what's really German and what's not, people just open up pan-European restaurants. Venison with lentils? Also served in much of France and Switzerland and some parts of Italy. Lingonberry tarts? Aren't these also Swedish (or at least they have 'em at Ikea)?

                                                                              I could buy someone telling me that no other cuisine has a wide variety of sausages, though. My sister's German / Swiss SO claims that there are as many varietals of German sausage as there are days of the year.

                                                                              1. re: Foodie in Friedberg

                                                                                And most of the "American" foods you name descend from the food of German immigrants many many years ago. So it's no wonder that similar food exists in Germany.

                                                                                However, just like a lot of that American food, German food - once the favorite ethnic restaurant food in American cities - came to be seen as old fashioned, unsophisticated, and unhealthy. A meat and sausage based cuisine that was for old folks, in an increasingly exploratory and health-concious American food scene. Combine that with the effect of 2 wars in which the Germans were our enemy, and you can see why it became a cuisine in steep decline.

                                                                                Food preferences in this country have changed greatly over time, and particularly in the past couple of decades. It has become increasingly difficult to find the old-fashioned heavily sauced French cuisine that was once the very essence of what passed for "fine dining" in American cities. The old time gloppy sweet Chinese chop suey joint food is dying off (thank goodness). Italian-American "red sauce" cuisine has morphed into Olive Garden and rows of cheap quick sauce bottles in the supermarket, but most new upscale Italian restaurants now try to serve something closer to the food in today's Italy. And the Jewish delicatessen is quickly fading into a historical curiousity (there's only about a dozen left in NYC for goodness sake).

                                                                                German food has been one of the major victims of these changes. Most old-time German restaurants in my experience are largely patronized by older people and often serve pretty tired food. Although there has been some spread of a sort of neo-German restaurant, at least here in NYC, the trend hasn't really taken off at all, and it's my sense that most of these places do business as much or more for the beer as for the food. Even during my time in Germany itself there seemed to be a notable move amongst younger people towards Middle Eastern (especially Turkish, of course), Asian, and modern Italian cuisines, as well as the sort of standard nouveauish lite Euro fare served at "modern" moderately priced restaurants all over the continent.

                                                                              2. What makes and keeps the few cuisines you mention popular is the media. Twenty five years ago - the time frame you chose - we didn't have nearly as many food publications as we have now, the Food Network, food segments on television shows, radio, the internet, food blogs, large food sections in newspapers, nearly the extent of direct marketing, restaurant chains, prepared foods, and many other factors that influence American food choices. Women's, fashion, health and fitness magazines link to food choices and tout the benefits of certain specific cuisines over others. Every shelter and design magazine has a food layout.

                                                                                Indian and Thai food predominate because they are mentioned more than the foods of Laos, Indonesia, Pakistan, Afganistan, Tibet, Bhutan, Tahiti, and all the other countries in that area with highly worthy cuisines. People know sushi but the rest of Japanese cuisine is complicated for the Food Network. These still aren't statistically mainstream in the way Italian, Chinese and Mexican are. Americans love Mexican but how many of us get beyond tacos? Yeah, Chowhounds might but we aren't statistically the folks driving through the carryout at Taco Bell or buying frozen enchiladas. Salsa outsells ketchup but it's for dipping Doritos.

                                                                                Good restaurants serving "foreign" food have always existed but when those foods hit the mainstream they change to accommodate general tastes. Good Morning America shows you how to do a Thai dish the easy way. They could just as easily show you how to do a Indonesian dish an easy way but everybody's "into" Thai. It might not even be close to authentic but you can get the ingredients at a regular supermarket, you have an exotic dish for your friends on Saturday night and nobody knows the difference anyway. Heck, it might even be an Indonesian dish. Would anybody know?

                                                                                Anecdotally, you, your mother, my family and I have added things to our diets that we didn't eat two decades ago and we find them more easily at our local stores but that's just because there are more things in those stores. We get used to cooking and eating them and when we get tired of them they'll disappear. There are many things that were quite common a few decades ago that are never seen today.

                                                                                21 Replies
                                                                                1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                  I do not deny that the cuisines of Laos, Indonesia, Pakistan, Afganistan, Tibet, Bhutan, Tahiti, etc, might all be wonderful. My list wasn't meant to exclude any cuisines in particular. My point was that our number of restaurant choices has exploded in America (and hopefully will continue) and as a nation we are making certain "choices" with our dollars. I disagree that marketing, TV, etc, can maintain any cuisine's popularity that isn't formidable. It might give it a start but what maintains any cuisine it is its beauty. An previous post mentioned that German restaurants were very popular between 1900 and 1950. One could suggest that competition from other cuisines might have been the cause of that.

                                                                                  1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                    Marketing, media and popular culture can make or break public perception and willingness to accept or reject anything. German restaurants were popular until the late 30s and the beginnings of WWII in Europe. Go back and look at movies, comic books, posters, toys, novels, newsreels, newspapers, magazines, etc. from that era in the US. Germans were depicted as the Enemy, called "Krauts" and other names, caricatures of them exceeded anything that would be tolerated today. People were urged to watch for the enemy among us and turn them in. Everyone was suspect if they had a German accent, perhaps even if their name was "too German." These were the days of the Japanese internment camps that we have a hard time imagining today. Blackout curtains in East Coast cities.
                                                                                    I don't imagine that a lot of people lined up at their formerly favorite German restaurants, however wonderful the food might have been. Giving aid and comfort to the enemy?

                                                                                    1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                      Even if I accept your points above, the question still remains; why hasn't German food returned today to anywhere near its supposed former popularity? Most people have no living memory of those days that you describe. And today in America we have "Japanese" sushi and "Vietnamese" Pho (amongst other things) that people really enjoy and that are also quite popular.

                                                                                      Not all cuisines are created equal I'm afraid.

                                                                                      1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                        I agree with your last two posts--that cuisines must have significant inherent worth to become popular. I disagree with your one prior to the last two where you suggested fad, "chic" and novelty were major factors at play.

                                                                                        And I agree to the extent that I'll have to apologize to the countries in which I've lived for more than 30 years: I don't think filipino or Colombian restaraunts will ever take off in the US. I think Cambodian and Malaysian will not fare that well. For Latin America and aside from Mexico and Guatemala, Peruvian may develop a limited following. Argentina and Brasil will provide big meat eating fun--but not much more. North African and Ethiopian are already popular in the US; but I think foods from other areas of Africa (minus chicken piri piri and some other dishes) will have a hard time. In spite of the references above, Bhutanese will probably not become a pop hit.

                                                                                        1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                          It is possible to trace the rise in popularity of any trend to current events and the food world is no exception. Some type of curry was always popular everywhere that there was British influence since Britannia ruled the waves, but Indian food surged in the US after JFK appointed Galbraith Ambassador to India and he invited Jackie for a hugely well-publicized visit and half the men in America took to wearing hideous Nehru jackets. Indian food and all things Indian were the rage. It's never really let up.
                                                                                          Waves of Vietnamese immigrants were resettled all over the US after the fall of Saigon in 1974 and 100 of 1000s of returning US servicemen remembered that cuisine and what they had enjoyed on R&R in Bangkok and Tokyo so those cuisines took off too. Cubans fled to the US after Castro in 1959 and changed South Florida forever. Waves of Hispanics have altered the demographics of the US dramatically due to economic and political conditions in the Americas.
                                                                                          The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet made Italy and the South of France even more popular destinations than ever as people devoured a couple of best selling books on those areas. EEOV on everything!
                                                                                          There hasn't been an event that would trigger an outbreak of German food. Our political, economic, and cultural relationships with Germany haven't been particularly remarkable since the end of the Marshall Plan. What there has been has been contentious. We don't celebrate Air Lifts and Checkpoint Charlie. The fall of the Berlin Wall is one event - that doesn't launch a food craze.
                                                                                          While I wholeheartedly agree with you that all cuisines are not of equal complexity, and some are perhaps best forgotten, those of Germany, Austria, and Eastern Europe are not not among them.
                                                                                          As Sam points out, there are many countries with extraordinary cuisines, but American are just unfamiliar with them because the marketing isn't there. As you say, "no living memory," so they only know what they hear from the sources they listen to. Are those the media? The marketers? So are the other great cuisines like trees falling in the forest and nobody hearing...

                                                                                          1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                            Chinon00 and MS, I think we're converging in agreement. Albeit I agree more with C00 on the "not created equal" bit--although...

                                                                                            Chinon00, I don't know what you mean by " 'Japanese' sushi and 'Vietnamese' Pho". Do you mean that sushi really comes from somewhere else than Japan; and that it is a hoax that pho is supposedly from Vietnam?

                                                                                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                              Gotta grant you that there are some "cuisines" that are sorely lacking. Poor raw ingredients, primitive agriculture, lack of contact with other cultures that might have influenced changes or advances, poverty, political factors, all leading to their being less than able to appeal to anybody who's eating other than just to survive for another day. There's some stuff I never want to eat again.
                                                                                              Some cuisines and cultures - ours being among them - have been and are more fortunate than others in being able to take advantage of resources and global influences. We shouldn't write off a cuisine we aren't familiar with just because it hasn't yet become popular in the US.

                                                                                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                No. I wanted to emphasize the point that we lost 300,000 American lives fighting the Axis Powers (JAPAN, Germany, Italy) during the Second World War and another 50,000 in VIETNAM. YET we've whole heartedly embraced the cuisines of JAPAN and VIETNAM but not Germany. It is my contention that it is because German food (although often good) simply not god enough to compete with other cuisines on its own merits and not because of some media bias or dark historical legacy.

                                                                                              2. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                Two points: Whenever I have to buy a cake for a birthday party or whatever I will only go to an Italian or German baker because I consider them to be "the best" as do many others. I am a beer lover as well. And when I'm in the mood for a Pilsner the choice is a Czech or German because I consider them to be again "the best" as do many others as well.
                                                                                                Now, there is a reason that the terms "German Baker" and "German Brewer" roll off of the tongue while "German Cook" sounds unfamiliar. It is because German baked goods and beers are formidable and beloved. So much so that all of the reasons you've listed have not kept these two portions of German cuisine from thriving here. We unfortunately can't say the same for their core cuisine.

                                                                                                1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                  Two concepts. You speak of the immegrant waves of Vietnamese and I might add Indians. New immegrant populations both seek their home food and also start restaurants as a first or second generation entrepreneurship. German food got its initial boost when there were waves of immigrants coming here in the middle of the 19th century. With their universal health care, assured vacation time and other social programs, I hardly see teems of Germans applying for citizenship in the USA. They're not bringing their food with them and realizing an American dream by opening a small cafe or beergarden.

                                                                                                  Secondly, Americans become enraptured with a new cuisine when they travel somewhere and wish to bring something back with them. Air travel, even with the modern inconveniences is much more affordable than it was 30 years ago. We can go farther and more often. Travel destinations are marketed towards warm, idyllic experiences: California and Florida within our own country; elsewhere we have heavy advertising for the Carribean, Thailand, Phillipines, Mexico, even the word Bora Bora seems enticing. How less inspiring to most Americans is the thought of travelling to South Dakota (which, btw is a state I have driven through often and love) or Nevada, not including Vegas. Similarly, for reasons of climate and a lack of pictures involving azure skies and palm trees we do not see mass-marketing Club Med adventures in St. Petersburg, Finland, Belgium, Poland and, yes, Germany.

                                                                                                  1. re: thinks too much

                                                                                                    Two excellent points. There are many factors that determine what ends up on our tables.
                                                                                                    That entreprenueurship idea is a major one - from small Chinese restaurants, taco wagons, Little Italy, Calle Ocho, dim sum, Greek bakeries. A lot of those enterprises, particularly food stores, started to service fellow immigrants before their markets expanded.
                                                                                                    Travel destinations have influenced mass market tastes. We are exposed to new foods and we seek them out when we return home. The explosion in Latin/Caribbean food in high-end restaurants is probably due as much if not more to that than to immigrants. Add to that, immigrants becoming solidly middle-class and the scene changes completely. There is now a market for high-end ethnic or ethnic-influenced/ fusion food even as we see a continued interest in small restaurants popping up in unlikely places. That's the stuff that shows up on the Food Network, magazines, newspapers, media, etc. and then trickles into the grocery stores. Everybody wants a reminder of that cruise, vacation or honeymoon. They may never get to China, Italy, or India but they can fix a meal to transport them there, enjoy it vicariously on TV, or eat some version of it in a restaurant.
                                                                                                    BTW, I had great Indian food in Rapid City, SD, prepared by some Muslims from Calcutta who had arrived there via Cairo and London, shared with their local Imam, a local Palestinian Jew, and the German and Chinese broadcasters I was traveling with. The waiter was from Bulgaria. Everybody was at Home on the Range.

                                                                                                2. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                  I agree with MakingSense that the fact German food is unpopular has everything to do with the media.

                                                                                                  I think Vietnamese pho is popular mostly because it is cheap and it contains MSG. Most North Americans like salty, processed foods, and at least in Toronto, pho fits that bill.

                                                                                                  I would hope that people realize there is much more to Vietnamese cuisine than pho, just like there is much more to American cuisine than corndogs, and much more to German cuisine than schnitzel.

                                                                                                  I would also hope that people aren't basing their criticism of German food on food they've eaten at tourist traps in Frankfurt, or Americanized versions of German food served in Frankenmuth.

                                                                                                  While I agree that not all cuisines are created equal, I think the decision of which cuisine is better is a subjective decision, not an objective one.

                                                                                                  Just my opinion.

                                                                                                  1. re: phoenikia

                                                                                                    You make an excellent point about our tendencies to generalize about the foods of other countries especially when we are only familiar with a portion of their cuisine, culture or history.
                                                                                                    It is very easy on Chowhound to assume the huge popularity of various ethnic cuisines because that's what we like and are eating and cooking.
                                                                                                    There's nothing wrong with exploring and delighting in any of those cuisines but their evaluation as "better" is purely subjective and will always be.
                                                                                                    I think it's important to remember is that there are other factors in addition to the cuisine itself that influence its current level of interest or lack thereof in the food world. There is a good reason why CH is talking about Thai, Indian, Mexican or Sushi. It's what this statistically small group wants to talk about. It's there in your town. Or on TV. Or someone brought it to your attention.

                                                                                                    My original comment had not been that German food was "unpopular," just that the large number of German restaurants and visible presence in the US prior to WWII had disappeared due to war-time prejudice and had never returned as there had never been any major positive media/marketing/demographic/economic events that would have influenced such a renaissance.
                                                                                                    Obviously, Japan and Italy, the other Axis countries, have had independent events which led to such.
                                                                                                    For Japan, it was their enormous economic position in the 80s when wealthy Japanese began traveling the world, buying everything in sight, and influencing every facet of contemporary life. Many Americans had ties to the "Old County" and there were lots of Italian immigrants so it was already a comfortable place for us, especially Catholics. The Mediterranean Diet sealed the deal. How many Americans even remember that Italy was the fascist enemy?
                                                                                                    You can pretty much date the genesis of interest in a cuisine (or its decline) to something that happened. Food historians have always tried to determine why and when a particular food or style of cooking appears in one area.
                                                                                                    It's interesting to just look at the copyright dates in your own cookbooks. There are Chinese recipes in my old Craig Claiborne NYTimes volumes but my single subject Chinese cookbooks all start from about the time Nixon went to China in the 70s. Everybody owned the solid old Joy of Cooking type books but Julia Child revolutionized everything in the 60s with Mastering the Art, the Kennedys were in the White House, we all cooked French food and headed to Paris.

                                                                                                    Although food is central to my life, it's a reflection of the world around me and I can learn much more from it than just what's on my plate. It's the history and culture of those who created it. Although their food may fall short, I'll give them another chance because I don't know everything about them. As phoenikia says, sometimes we can be the victims of our own bad first experiences.

                                                                                                    1. re: phoenikia

                                                                                                      How would you explain the disparity in how well German beer and baked goods are received in North America versus German cuisine?

                                                                                                      1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                        What makes German Beer so great is the Laws of Purity that it is brewed by allowing no more than 3 ingredients in the brew.

                                                                                                        1. re: Jimbosox04

                                                                                                          What makes German beer so great is centuries of practise.

                                                                                                          1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                            Here I am practicing at the Bello e Bello Trattoria in Munich

                                                                                                          2. re: Jimbosox04

                                                                                                            Reinheitsgebot (the Law of Purity) got kicked out by European Courts in 1987. The EU won't tolerate that because it restricts trade.
                                                                                                            German beers that still conform to that set of rules, which allow only designated ingredients to be used in beer, receive special treatment and designation as "traditional." Other beers have to conform to standard EU rules for food additives.

                                                                                                            1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                              Well you tell me Becks vs. Franziskaner ?? Purity wins all the time !!!

                                                                                                              This post seems more like a history lesson than the actual question being answered.

                                                                                                      2. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                        Think about this, immigrants with no education often have no choice other than to open restaurants. That's why all the Asian cuisines are well represented. The typical German immigrant these days is not going to open a German restaurant

                                                                                                3. My parents still make thier own saurkraut which is excellent raw or cooked. Mom cooks it with a pork roast (no sugar, apples, caraway, just salt and pepper!) and she makes "potato balls" with it. Mom also makes ham and navy bean soup with potato pancake (latkes). The soup gets poured over the pancakes.

                                                                                                  1. Four words... Münchener Kasekuchen mit Mohn...

                                                                                                    1. German food may not be popular in the US but it doesn't have the bad reputation that English and Irish food have/had - and all that is changing with growing awareness of what good food is and the availability of fresh ingredients. Having had a German grandmother and a Scotch/Irish one, the German grandma was the better cook hands down.She made the best clam fritters in all of eastern Connecticut. And what could be worse than American food in the 50's? By the way, Austrian food is considered to be among the great cuisines of the world, along with French and Chinese (let's give the Italians a hand, too). It ain't Germany, but they speak sort of the same language (give or take a few dialects). Here's to bacon fat and potatoes!

                                                                                                      1. I like Maultaschen, too. I love German style Gemischter Salat, spaetzle, smoked fish, Cambazola, rotegruetze & Donauwelle. I always have eaten well in Germany, Austria & the German speaking parts of Switzerland. And in Alsace-Lorraine, which at least gastronomically, has a lot more in common with Germany than France.

                                                                                                        1. Jaegerschnitzel (mit Pommes, bitte)

                                                                                                          That stuff called "Gruene Sosse," addictive


                                                                                                          Vielen Dank!!

                                                                                                          1. Quark on Vollkornbrot, Zwiebelkucken, gebackene Camembert, Feldsalat, Roetegrutze mit Schlag, Kasespatzle (an ultimate mac and cheese), the brand new wine that looks like dishwater and tastes like punch. What was it called?

                                                                                                            29 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: thinks too much

                                                                                                              Methinks it may be Liebfraumilch. It was the "go-to" dating wine of college freshmen in the 1970's.

                                                                                                              But hey....Kasespatzle!!!. A strong branch on the evolutionary tree of Mac N Cheese, not to be missed. Made it a while back using this recipe (with video), and I may stay with spatzle and never go back to Mac.


                                                                                                              This is an old dish, relevant to German roots of American food. "Kase" shows up in our word for milk proteins: casein.

                                                                                                              1. re: FoodFuser

                                                                                                                I am going to Germany for two weeks in May and this thread has been awesome. We live in Chicago and enjoy German food, but find myself sticking to the schnitzel and spaetzle. I cannot wait to have fried camambert and this wonderful sounding kasespatzle. YUM.

                                                                                                                And, is Quark something a person can find at most cafes in germany? Or something you would buy in a store and eat in your hotel room at midnight? Please advise.

                                                                                                                1. re: stellamystar

                                                                                                                  Quark is a raw cheese that ranges from drained yogurt to thick sour cream to cream cheese in consistency and milkfat. It's everywhere.

                                                                                                                  1. re: stellamystar

                                                                                                                    There's a quark-like product sold in New Orleans called Creole Cream Cheese. It was Mama's favorite breakfast, snack or dessert - with a little cream, sugar and fresh Ponchatoula strawberries.
                                                                                                                    The Germans settled in the bayou country around Lac des Allemands, the area called the German Coast, just south of New Orleans, in the early 1700's around the time New Orleans was founded in 1717. They may well have brought this with them although it is now often attributed to the French from Brittany where most of the Acadian settlers came from.

                                                                                                                    1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                      It's been a lot of fun reading the responses to my initial post. Ultimately, I think the popularity of a particular cuisine has to do with all the factors mentioned: fads, media, cultural connections and yes, even the inherent superiority of certain cuisines overall. It sounds so elitist, but while there is fantastic food to be found in Germany - see above posts - consider that it is a country which is geographically very limited compared to say, India or China - or even France and Italy. These countries have areas where the climate has always been more conducive to growing a larger variety of fruits and vegetables than Germany or Poland, for example. This - in addition to the size of countries such as China and India and the variety that comes with that- certainly expands the possibilities for that particular cuisine. It's no coincidence that the cuisines mentioned in this thread which people consider to be superior cuisines are all from countries with subtropical climes. I haven't heard anyone going crazy for Icelandic or Finnish food.

                                                                                                                      1. re: suse

                                                                                                                        I've lived in two sub-tropical/tropical countries for a total of more than 30 years. Unfortunately and with apologies, the food is worse than German in each.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                          Sam, could you let us know which sub-tropical/tropical countries these were where you lived?

                                                                                                                        2. re: suse

                                                                                                                          I wouldn't consider Germany that geographically limited, the climate is not that different from France, except for the fact they don't have a southern region like Provence. Bavaria's climate is very similar to Alsace-Lorraine or Burgundy. I have seen roses bloom in Bavaria in October. It is much milder than Ontario or the Midwest,so they have a longer growing season than much of North America.

                                                                                                                          Germany actually does grow a large variety of fruits and vegetables, and if you every visit a market in a German town or city, you'll see a lot more variety than you see in a Farmer's market in North America. Especially when it comes to mushrooms and potatoes. The markets I've visited in Germany are pretty much identical to the markets I've visited in France and Italy.

                                                                                                                          Germany also has at least a dozen different regional cuisines, just like the French, Italians, Spanish and Greek. Bavarian and Swabian cuisine is very different from what the Northern cuisine. The food from the Rhineland is very similar to the food in Alsace-Lorraine. Flammenkuchen= Tarte flambee. There is also a strong Eastern European influence in the foods eaten by German speaking people (Volksdeutsch) from Silesia, Pomerania, Galicia, Czech Rep. and Prussia, etc, who moved to Germany,Austria & Switzerland, as well as North and South America before/during/after the World Wars.

                                                                                                                          I think the Anglo world likes to put everything into neat little categories. It's not always so simple.

                                                                                                                          1. re: phoenikia

                                                                                                                            Let's not forget that Germany is the only place I have ever visited where I would order a plate of asparagus for an entree. The whites in Bavaria are like none else in the world.

                                                                                                                            1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                              are those avaialble all year long? I will be there in May

                                                                                                                              1. re: stellamystar

                                                                                                                                May is absolutely asparagus season in northern Europe.

                                                                                                                          2. re: suse

                                                                                                                            The other side of that coin is that enormous countries like India and China have areas that are geographically isolated, enormous poverty, with less hospitable climates, poorly developed agricultural practices and regional cuisines that are not the equal of the ones that we have idealized. They don't have that large variety of fruits and vegetables. Their cuisines are unknown and probably less appealing to Western tastes.
                                                                                                                            Western Europe has been a crossroads for centuries and imports have been common. Good produce is now available year round even in street markets in small towns.
                                                                                                                            Geographically limited? Western Europe is where people from India and China change planes, study, shop and conduct business. The headquarters of international organizations and many multi-national corporations with operations in Asia are in European capitals. Media outlets from Asia maintain large bureaus there. The US is isolated by two oceans and we sometimes forget that.

                                                                                                                            1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                              Of course, I was trying to analyze the situation from a historical point of view, not in terms of what can be imported to a country today. Yes, imports were not uncommon before the age of air transport, but not in terms of fresh ingredients. Instead of saying "geographically limited" I probably should have pointed out, that unlike France and Italy, Germany does not border the Mediterranean. You can't compare what grows in southern France with what grows in Germany in terms of variety. Hey, I'm a German - I love German food and I know all about the variety of regional cuisines in Germany. My point is simply that when one considers what are traditionally the so-called great cuisines people often refer to, one can look at many factors which come into play, including many mentioned above, as well as the geographical factor. Certainly, there are isolated areas of India or China - my point in mentioning those two countries is that they are HUGE and have historically contributed a huge variety to what is known as "Indian" or "Chinese" cuisine.

                                                                                                                              1. re: suse

                                                                                                                                Remember that to some extent Marco Polo's and Columbus's trips were food runs. What did they bring back to Europe? And the Romans carried salt and provisions back and forth on that extensive road system they built and from as far away as Africa. Early Chowhounds? You bet! Royalty, military and the wealthy traveled with chefs. Foodstuffs were always provided to the courts and major cities from afar - and afar isn't that far in Europe.
                                                                                                                                That majority of what we call the Great Cuisines are from places with which we long had commercial ties. Largely coastal cities, even in China and India. They were wealthier and their cuisines benefited from the contact with the outside world. Little happens in a vacuum. History has had a remarkable impact on what and why we eat as we do today.

                                                                                                                        3. re: stellamystar

                                                                                                                          Quark is also used in some baked goods, and it makes them really moist and yummy.

                                                                                                                          1. re: stellamystar

                                                                                                                            Quark is used a lot in baked goods, so you'll certainly find it there. If you're in the south, don't miss the "Maultaschen". Those are the German ravioli I mentioned in my original post.

                                                                                                                            1. re: suse

                                                                                                                              YUM. What are maultaschen stuffed with?

                                                                                                                              1. re: stellamystar

                                                                                                                                My grandmother stuffed hers with ground beef, onions, parsley, day-old rolls soaked in milk and squeezed out and an egg. A lot of recipes add spinach. They are served either in a broth or boiled and then sauteed in butter. We always served them in broth (with salad and potato salad as sides) and then the next day sliced the leftovers and fried them in butter with a bit of egg. Fantastic with a green salad and light vinaigrette on the side.

                                                                                                                            2. re: stellamystar

                                                                                                                              This is something to purchase when marketing and eat in the park with good, hearty bread from a bakery. Extra points if you buy a scallion and chop it into the quark. Definitely go marketing so you can eat picnics and explore food.

                                                                                                                              In May the ice cream parlors, run by the Italians who went south for the winter, will return. Get something silly.

                                                                                                                              Oh, and zweibelbraten: braised beef topped with onions that can be crispy or carmelized depending on the restaurant.

                                                                                                                              1. re: thinks too much

                                                                                                                                The ice cream shops are already open and the ice cream trucks making their rounds through town. What I love about ice cream in Germany the ice cream incredibly yummy, but that they give you reasonable servings so you don't feel weighed down by it (which means I don't feel so guilty!). "My" ice cream guy will be in the neighborhood in about 30 minutes (he parks right in front of my house... the only way for me to resist is to be gone from the house in the afternoon!), and for 70 euro cents I have a lovely afternoon snack.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Foodie in Friedberg

                                                                                                                                  I totally agree. In the states I always order the kiddy size, and then the kid behind the counter figures I'm just being cheap. He/she still piles as much as she can on one scoop and hands it to me. Really I only wanted half the size, but who's going to throw away an icecream cone?

                                                                                                                            3. re: FoodFuser

                                                                                                                              Kaese is actually the source of our word "cheese" - so really has more to do with the roots of the English language than with the German roots of American food, although these are certainly significant.

                                                                                                                              1. re: FoodFuser

                                                                                                                                This is _definitely_ not Liebfraumilch. I don't believe it is possible to purchase it anywhere. When I lived on the Weingut we would have it during the harvest season. The wine would have just started to ferment, barely. My hostfather would go out and siphon off a pitcher and bring it back in to go with dinner. It really was a gray, dishwasher color. It was faintly fizzy with the new fermentation and lightly alcoholic. The season for it lasted about 2 weeks before that part of the fermentation was done. (Talk about a true seasonality!) There definitely was a name for it and I think it was one or two syllables (which severely limits the scope when we're talking about German). Definitely not a beverage I'd reach for every day, but the very brief season for it made it special.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Schmitt

                                                                                                                                      That's it! Thank you, und vielen Dank! Three syllables is still a short word in German.

                                                                                                                                      It definitely wasn't Eiswein, which I do not enjoy at all. It's like drinking raisins *shudder*. The sad thing is that on the rare occaisions my host parents can send me a bottle through friends, they always send Eiswein because a) "Girls LIKE sweet wine" (said in an authoritative and, yes, German voice... even though I said repeatedly that I prefer dry) and b) because it's expensive and they are showing that they think I'm worth the top of their line. I can hear and enjoy their affection even though I long desperately for a bottle of their Sylvaner trocken.

                                                                                                                                      So why the very sweet FederweiB? I think I liked the FederweiB because it tasted so much better than it looked, and because it was so representative of the camaraderie of the harvest season.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: thinks too much

                                                                                                                                        The first time I got it was pretty exciting, they warned us to open the cap every half hour or the bottle would explode :)

                                                                                                                                      2. re: Schmitt

                                                                                                                                        Let us not forget Gluhwein !!! Prost !!

                                                                                                                                1. Another question. When I travelled to Germany (before I lived there) I remember that the hot chocolate was never sweetened. It came with sugar packets that you added yourself. Do they still do it that way? When I lived there, it was coffee all the time.

                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                  1. re: thinks too much

                                                                                                                                    While I do like the German hot chocolate (I don't think I'll ever be able to drink hot chocolate in the US again), I love German coffee so my experience with the chocolate is limited. The German hot chocolate I have tried comes with the sugar in it, though it isn't nearly as sweet as American hot chocolate.

                                                                                                                                  2. With so many lovers of German food chipping in, may I take a moment to ask a small question about a German food product: Dried/Dehydrated sauerkraut. It was apparently issued to German soldiers during WW2 (as evidenced in Spielberg's "Band of Brothere's", where it was pictured as small foil wrapped packs as part of field rations).

                                                                                                                                    I'm interested in this as a backpacking food. Is it common in Germany? Is it as simple as running some fresh kraut thru the dehydrator?

                                                                                                                                    I hope that someone with experience with this food could respond. Thanks.

                                                                                                                                    1. I think too the German food may not be popular because it can be derivative. I’ve noticed that restaurants that describe their cuisine as “European” are generally serving dishes with Central/Eastern European influence or origin. These places as I recall will serve dishes for example of pork or chicken with fruit like apple or apricot or other berries, with bacon, red cabbage and other things which strike me as generally Central/Eastern European in nature. By contrast you’ll rarely see a restaurant that is a mixture of Western European cuisines because their cuisines tends to be non-derivative.

                                                                                                                                      27 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                        Have you tried Alsatian or Friulian food, Chinon00? They use bacon and cabbage as much as the Germans do. But Alsace is part of France, and Friuli is part of Italy. The Spanish, Sicilians, Tunisians, and Moroccans also happen to serve dishes with meats combined with fruit. Prosciutto with melon or figs is found throughout Italy.

                                                                                                                                        All cuisines are derivative. The Italians wouldn't have tomatoes, polenta or peppers if it weren't for the Native Cultures of the new world. And there would be no Pain au Chocolat, if cocoa beans hadn't been brought over from the new world.

                                                                                                                                        By the way, although Germany is central, it is part of Western Europe.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: phoenikia

                                                                                                                                          First, I am familiar with both Alsace and Friuli. And to my understanding Friuli, although a part of Italy now had formally been a part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. And I'm pretty sure that many Friulese actually speak German. Similarly it is my understanding that Alsace had once been a part of Germany.
                                                                                                                                          As for "[a]ll cuisine being derivative" I don't see any reasonable person being unable to distinguish between say Mexican and Italian despite the fact that they may use similar ingredients. I'm afraid that it might be significantly more difficult for many of us to distinguish between say German and Czech.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                            I don't really know if a reasonable person from Moscow would be able to distinguish between enchiladas and cannelloni. But you're probably right if you mean any "reasonable North American chowhound" or "reasonable Western European" would be able to distinguish between Mexican and Italian...

                                                                                                                                            But just so you know, and so you don't upset any Friulians in the near future, Friulians have traditionally spoken Furlan, although it's disappearing quickly. Not German.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                              Cuisines don't so much "derive" as they evolve as years go by and circumstances change. When arbitrary political borders are redrawn by conquest or treaty, cooks don't pitch out their recipe collections and say, "Well, so much for German food, tomorrow it's French all the way!" The food in the areas between countries has always shared some similar characteristics depending on what's naturally available and new influences that are introduced.
                                                                                                                                              It's reasonable that there would be little Italian influence in Mexico as Italy has never had much presence there. If you travel to Argentina and Chile however, you find substantial signs, including great pasta. The Italians traded and explored there. The area around Bariloche in the Andes between Argentina and Chile has a strong German influence in the food and architecture, as many Germans settled there in the 30s and 40s. It feels like skiing in the Alps.
                                                                                                                                              Trade routes are a major factor in the evolution of foodways that continues today.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                                                To be clear when I say "derivative" in refering to German food I'm using it meaning "sameness" or being relatively "undistinguished" when viewed versus other foods of that part of Europe such as Czech or Polish by a reasonable person from North America.

                                                                                                                                              2. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                                "I'm afraid that it might be significantly more difficult for many of us to distinguish between say German and Czech."

                                                                                                                                                You are generalizing too much. Because a lot of Americans might have more problems to distinguish between German and Czech food than Italian and Mexican doesn't mean that is the case in the other parts of the world. I think your posts in this discussion are a little bit too US-centric and should try to look on this topic more as a cosmopolitan which might give you a different perspective on the role of German food in different countries.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                                  But this was a strictly North American conversation. We are tryng to answer the question of why German food is "slammed" or "under-represented" here in North America. It is my claim that one possible reason is that it doesn't "standout" to our eyes here.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                                    Sorry, I didn't explain it well. What I meant was that when looking on all the posts it looks like that most people here in the US have an opinion about German food which is based on something which was the standard in Germany 20-30 years ago but is not anymore for quite some time. 99% of all food mentioned in this discussion is what you would call "gutbuergerliche Kueche" something you will find today in a lot of tourists areas and some more specialized restaurants. Similar to many other countries (including the US) german food is constantly changing.There are millions of immigrants living in Germany from many different countries and all of them have there influences. There are many highly recongnized German chefs (Dieter Mueller, Witzigmann,etc.) throughout the world who are also influencing cooking in Germany and other countries in Europe by a very unique German style of cooking. Today chefs are travelling throughout the world and influencing each other and so there might be more influences from German chefs even in the US than you might expect. ( A lot of people tend to think that France is the main/only serious cooking nation in Europe but they are also influenced by other countries in Europe, including Germany.). And what I meant with the discussion to be too US-centric was that I only experience it in the US that people only associate German food with something 20-30 years old but are not willing to learn that this has not much to do with food in Germany today. I have talked with people throughout Europe, Asia, Mexico and everywhere people are aware that Schnitzel, Rouladen, Sauerkraut etc. are part of German cuisine but only a small one and that food has changed dramatically in Germany over the last 10-20 years. Only in the US I get responses similar to the ones in this discussion where everybody believes German cuisine only consist of Schnitzel, Rouladen, Sauerkraut etc.. I think it is not a surprise that only 25% of Americans have a passport and hardly travel outside of the US. Therefore I think it is necessary to look at German cuisine (and any other) continuisly not be stuck 20 years ago.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                                      Yes, there has been some talk of Schnitzel, Rouladen and other stereotypical (or "touristy" dishes as I think it was mentioned in one recent post) German dishes, but many regional dishes have also been mentioned.

                                                                                                                                                      I live in Germany. We go out for a variety of types of meals: Italian, Chinese, Thai, Indian, Spanish, and even German. I don't eat schnitzel all the time, but it is on most menus and it is yummy. If someone is talking about "German" food, it is unlikely I will discuss with them the same food we can routinely get in the United States.

                                                                                                                                                      Our most recent meal eaten out is evidence that German and American food are similar. My huband and I went to dinner Monday night and our meal was like a meal you would get in a nice restaurant in the United States (and yes, there was a schintzel offered on the menu). I had field greens with warm goat cheese, a quinoa cake, toasted pine nuts & aged balsamic vinegar and beef tenderloin with a lemony bread crumb topping, sauted green beans and snow peas and a whopping side of yummy potatoes in a vegetable flecked white sauce. My husband had carrot soup spiced with curry and lamb served on cous cous with fresh green beans with a really spicy asin-inspired sauce. For dessert we split the white chocolate mouse with fresh berries.

                                                                                                                                                      So was this a "German" meal, or an "American" one? I am not going to get hung up on it... I'm just going to keep on enjoying the food.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Foodie in Friedberg

                                                                                                                                                        I spent some time in Germany last year and I can say that the major difference in everything you get in Germany whether it be German food, Chinese, Italian, etc.. is that it is all FRESH !!! Also when you are done you ask for the bill not have it on your table already waiting with people waiting to steal your seat as you make a trip to the watercloset, yes people, that is what the restrooms are called. I thought I would add that because it caused a little extreme embarrassment for me ;-)

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                                        I appreciate your response. But in your opinion why is it though that even on a food oriented website such as this that German food is so misunderstood? Also, why don't we see more of the "very unique German style of cooking" in the States.
                                                                                                                                                        Lasty, I try to read food and wine magazines and I know that people are eating very well in Germany and that there are renowned chefs and many Michelin starred restaurants doing varied and innovative things. What I rarely see or read about is a celebration of any "classic dishes" and other things that are more indicative of a singular cuisine however.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                                          Chowhound is a free site whose content is controlled by its members. The demographics of the posters is largely unknown. The current group apparently isn't interested in discussing German food and they may or may not understand it or care if they do. This should not be construed as an indication of what the American people at large know or think.
                                                                                                                                                          A lot of us check this board and read the same food and wine magazines and newspaper food sections, leading to something of an echo chamber. If we do broader LexisNexis searches on German food, checking travel, financial, shelter, fashion, health, science and other publications, it's likely that we'd find many more articles reaching much wider audiences including very high income consumers. Expanding that search to TV, radio and internet sources, especially online versions of newspapers and wireservices, as would be done by a marketing or advertising agency seeking an accurate assessment of the impact of German food and wine in the marketplace among different groups of consumers, you might get a substantially different picture.
                                                                                                                                                          As many have pointed out, there is good German cooking in the US in restaurants and in private homes and in the roots of American food. It doesn't stand out because the ingredients are not exotic imports that you have to buy in ethnic groceries or special sections of stores. They aren't much different from the ingredients for fine French or Italian cuisine which are also widely available. This makes it hard to even know what American are eating at home.
                                                                                                                                                          Many on chowhound may be more interested in other cuisines and are simply passing over German food currently but that doesn't mean that it isn't there. They are probably eating more of it than they think or admit.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: bryan

                                                                                                                                                              The point is all about what people are interested in.
                                                                                                                                                              Right here on my desk is a Saveur magazine (9/06) that my younger daughter just returned to me that I had lent to her because she was traveling to Turkey and there was an article about Turkish food.
                                                                                                                                                              Guess what the cover story is? German food in Milwaukee - a fish fry with all the side dishes. The article is about the tradition of Friday night fish fries, their popularity and famous German restaurants in the city. I've been to some of them and stayed at the fabulous German Pfister Hotel which is one of the Historic Hotels of America. On a previous trip to Milwaukee, I ate at a restaurant that served classic German fine cuisine.
                                                                                                                                                              It's likely that many of the posters on this board flipped right by that article however because they weren't interested. There were articles on Chinese tofu, Calcutta home cooking and Vancouver Island - all much more frequent topics on Chowhound. There was a piece on Satay and, of course, the article on Turkey which probably drew the interest of those who are cooking a lot of Middle Eastern foods. And a good article on an Indian home kitchen which would be of more interest perhaps than a Friday night fish fry.

                                                                                                                                                              That is just one issue of one US food and wine magazine. General circulation magazines publish articles based on what will sell those magazines. They wouldn't publish a cover story on German food in Milwaukee if there weren't people who didn't love it that kind of food even if a lot of other people flipped by it.

                                                                                                                                                              There are many who are currently enjoying cuisines from other regions of the world. They may not appreciate the nuances among German, Czech, Polish, Russian, Austrian, Northern Italian, etc. cuisines. any more than the aficionados of European cuisines appreciate the differences among the cuisines of South East Asia.
                                                                                                                                                              Everyone doesn't enjoy or have equal knowledge of the same things. Does that give them license to diminish the validity of those cuisines or their influences on American cooking?

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                                                              I hear you and appreciate what you're saying. But I still find somethings problematic. For example I think that we'd all agree that German brewing and beer is the basis of the American light lager (the number one consumed style of beer in America). Therefore, it is obvious that German brewing is a part of our cultural DNA (as you and others suggest that German cuisine is as well). But at the same time we and others around the globe still recognize and celebrate beer imported from Germany. And I believe that this is true because German brewing has a long coherent history with numerous prized, recognizable and influencial styles of beer. It's a leader. So excluding any bias can even one who loves German food seriously suggest the same gravity for this cuisine?

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                                                                So if people on Chowhound simply don't think much of German food, why are we still going on about it? 156 messages and counting?

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                                    All cuisines are somehow derivative, French or Italian no less so than German. The Italians have always argued that fine French cuisine derives mostly from Italian cuisine. Of course, then there is the question of the origin of pasta.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: suse

                                                                                                                                                      To clarify as I stated earlier: "when I say "derivative" in refering to German food I'm using it meaning "sameness" or being relatively "undistinguished" when viewed versus other foods of that part of Europe such as Czech or Polish by a reasonable person from North America". And to add, no reasonable person from North America would confuse say Italian and French.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                                        If we go beyond pasta for Italian food and add meat, vegetarian and fish dishes I am pretty sure that many "reasonable" person in North America would indeed confuse Italian and French.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                                          I'm afraid that pasta is Italian cuisine's centerpiece consumed almost daily by most Italians. Pasta in all it's various shapes, sizes, colors and ingredients provides Italian cuisine its central identity clearly distinguishing it from all others.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                                            There are more "Italian cuisine's centerpieces" than pasta, e.g. a lot of different antipasti, fish and meat dishes (ossobucco etc). But even with pasta dishes when they go beyond tomatoe based sauces many "reasonable" person in North America would indeed confuse Italian with other cuisines.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                                              Yet pasta is certainly completely derivative, in the true sense of the word, considering that it's based on Chinese la mien.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: suse

                                                                                                                                                                Again and to be absolutely clear no reasonable person in North America would confuse a plate of Chinese House Lo Mein with an Italian Pasta dish which is my point when using the term "derivative" (i.e. indistinguishable). On the other hand I cannot think of any substantial portion of, or approaches to German cuisine that clearly distinguishes itself from say Polish, Czech or Austrian cuisine to the eyes of a North American (which makes it derivative to many of us). If you could clue us in on any broad and fundamental distinctions between German cuisine and any of the aforementioned foods (i.e. Czech, Polish) I'd really appreciate it.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                                                  There are differences between German and for example Czech, Austrian cuisine. Germany (especially in the Northern part) is throughout Europe very well known for many excellent fish dishes (Scholle, Flunder, Hecht etc). In addition, you will find in Germany a great tradition of dishes focusing on game (which you will also find in other countries but not at this extend and tradition). These kind of dishes clearly distinguish German cuisine from Austrian or Czech cuisine.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                                                    Okay, okay, I give up! We are clearly using two different meanings of the word derivative, which by the way doesn't mean "indistinguishable". I'm not suggesting that chinese lo mein would be mistaken for an italian pasta dish. Sheesh. I have, by the way, eaten Chinese noodles with a meat sauce in northern China, where I lived for two years, that was a heck of a lot like linguini bolognese. As for what's German - Spaetzle, for example are distinctly German. Sauerbraten is distinctly German and will never be mistaken for a Polish dish. Maultaschen and Pierogis are both ravioli-like, but no one in Europe would ever consider Maultaschen to be Polish, but rather German and specifically, southern German. There are overlaps all over the place sure. I think you consider Polish and German foods to be indistinguishable because they are in some ways similar, i.e. no Mediterranean influence. But indistinguishable, hardly.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                                                  Check some good Italian cookbooks before assuming that pasta is a daily thing. That course in an Italian meal is often filled by gnocchi, crepes, risotto, polenta, or potatoes cooked in fabulous, creative ways, depending on the season and the region of Italy.
                                                                                                                                                                  Maybe we just think pasta, pasta, pasta in the US because we received such a large wave of immigrants from Southern Italy where pasta, especially with red sauce, is more prevalent.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                                                                    I lived and worked in and around Milan for six months and have visited Genoa, Rome, Florence, Sienna, Arezzo and Venice for work and vacation. Pasta was served everyday in the cafeterias where I worked and was always available at restaurants. In the pasta aisle in supermarkets one can't believe that that many shapes, sizes, or colors of pasta actually exist in the world.

                                                                                                                                                        2. My favorite too. It's a very heavy food & that may be it's downfall with most eaters. as for myself it's worth it. If you need a new german food, try thr herrings and fish salads from the north. I love it!
                                                                                                                                                          A question for you! What do YOU wash all this down with?

                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: BuyNewHomes

                                                                                                                                                            When in Southern Germany, where my family lives, I like to order a Trollinger - a light red wine produced in the south in quantities clearly too small to be exported. A nice Pilsner from the tap also always yummy. Non-alcoholic beverage>: either just bubbly water like a Pellegrino or an Apfelschorle (half apple juice/half bubbly water).

                                                                                                                                                          2. Is it you that doesn't like Blutwurst? I eat it right off the knife or a nice sandwich with a light schmeer of mustard on German white. Wash it down with ANYTHING. It holds it own. I can say all these things and believe in them as all of my ancestors lived to be +/-100 yrs. old. True I lost a gall bladder recently but who cares.

                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: BuyNewHomes

                                                                                                                                                              The Germanic cuisine of Alsace - with French refinements - is among the most prized in France, and one finds similar white-wine-friendly food on the German side of the Rhine. I'm not fond of beer, so that is the German cuisine that appeals to me most.

                                                                                                                                                              I think one can indeed confuse the food of say, Provence Côte-d'Azur and Liguria (the region around Genova) as much as Alsation and southwestern German cuisines...

                                                                                                                                                              In Québec, and even in English-speaking Canada, I'd say the overall German influence in the food is less than in the US, reflecting migration patterns. There are specific pockets of German food influence (Lunenberg, the area around Kitchener Ontario - formerly Berlin, and several Mennonite settlements) but it isn't as large an influence as British and French foods - or of course the Amerindian foods that are a background throughout the Americas.

                                                                                                                                                              Perhaps traditional Germanic food is too heavy for modern life, as we work in front of computers for the most part, not hewing trees or milking cows by hand, in chilly weather. My friends in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Alsace eat much lighter fare than their ancestors did.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: lagatta

                                                                                                                                                                I've been to Lunenberg, but I'm curious as to what you thought the Germanic influence was -- it seemed to me that all the restaurants specialised in fairly simple (but usually very good) preparations of the local seafood (well, "local" -- Digby scallops are quite popular and that's clear round the other side of the peninsula)

                                                                                                                                                            2. I once wrote an essay (which has some value despite its unintentionally pretentious tone) trying to pick out historical factors that led to grest cuisine. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/302932 Of interest here is that Germany scores low on all these factors. There was no German empire drawing inspiration from the food of its colonies, there was no grand King of Germany patronizing a lavish courtly cuisine. (Austria is a different story.) Though German traders were prominent (eg Hanseatic League), aparts from its ports Germany was not a major trade route. In much of Germany the religion was ascetic, and Luther's works are laced with diatribes against rude and swinish gluttony.

                                                                                                                                                              I should add that despite all this German cuisine is remarkable. In New York, German-inspired restaurants are among the city's finest, including Danube, Wallsee, and the long-closed Vienna 79.

                                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Brian S

                                                                                                                                                                ...as opposed to polite and refined gluttony, of course.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Brian S

                                                                                                                                                                  Could you clarify whether you are saying that there are remarkable German restaurants or that German cuisine itself is remarkable?

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                                                    I don't know and I'm hedging my bets. I don't want to look as foolish as the man who eats nothing but canned chop suey and says Chinese cuisine is totally unremarkable.

                                                                                                                                                                2. Giving this more thought it appears to me that food from that region as a whole (Germany-Austria-Poland-Czech-Slovenia) is and has traditionally been under-represented in the American restaurant scene. Thoughts?

                                                                                                                                                                  22 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                                                    Because it's where the biggest chunk of Americans came from. You don't go out for it if Mom's making it at home.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                                                                                      There have always been an abundance of Italian restaurants on the East Coast anyway (along with a lot of Italian Americans).
                                                                                                                                                                      I was reading that during the 50s many an ethnic cuisine went mainstream (e.g. sukyaki, egg foo yung, chow mein, enchiladas, pizza, lasagne, and barbecued meats with polynesian sauces) due to returning GIs from Europe and the Pacific. It would make sense that cuisine from Poland-Czech-Slovenia would not have become popular (on this basis at least) because our troops weren't there in great numbers. This still doesn't explain Germany though since we were there.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                                                        I don't think that's it -- the German immigrants came over (to New York) before the Italians, the Chinese, the Mexicans, etc. You can see the order of progression as neighbourhoods change -- and you can see it now as Little Italy shrinks and gives way to Chinatown, and where the Lower East Side is becoming Losaida.

                                                                                                                                                                        German-type food (the kind easily Americanised) had long since been assimilated into "normal" cuisine by the time the others arrived. Schnitzel, for example, and sausages, noodles with butter and breadcrumbs, and apple strudel. It wasn't as popular as the others, because back in the day, you ate at home, and if you did eat in a restaurant it was often an occasion and that meant French food.

                                                                                                                                                                        No one I knew ate Japanese food in New Jersey in the early 80's... not until sushi became all the rage in California did we even have a Japanese restaurant. The first Thai restaurant in my county opened while I was taking courses at Rutgers. Mexican food meant Chi-Chi's or, later, Taco Bell.

                                                                                                                                                                        Italian food was, of course, everywhere and perfectly normal, but there are a LOT of Italians in Middlesex County. Interestingly, though there were also a huge number of Indians and a not-quite-as-huge-but-still-pretty-impressive number of Koreans, no one ate either of those cuisines.

                                                                                                                                                                        People are being exposed to more cuisines now because we, as a nation, eat out more and don't want to have the same food every night. I also think the multicultural movement (where they taught us in school how to draw pictures with green stick figures and black stick figures and red stick figures) opened people's minds to other ethnicities' food. Back when the Germans were coming to the U.S. in large numbers, it was still very much an "us vs. them" mentality.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                                                                                          So in essence you’re saying that due to our ethnic heritage in the United States identifying a restaurant as “German” makes about as much sense or is as useful as identifying a restaurant as “American” due to the number of dishes of German origin that can be found within our standard American cuisine (e.g. black forest cake, apple strudel, hot dogs w/ sauerkraut, noodles with butter and breadcrumbs, etc.) Gotcha!

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                                                            German is even more pidgeonholed than Mexican. There seems to be a very narrow interpretation of what Americans consider to be uniquely & distinctly German.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                                                                              ...the same way that "American" food in Europe is perceived to be hamburgers, hot dogs and pizza in enormous portions.

                                                                                                                                                                              I would say that your average American is just as well-travelled, in terms of kilometres, than your average European. The difference is that when you go 300 kms from Paris you're in Germany. When you go 300 kms from Los Angeles you're in Las Vegas or Arizona. European countries have kept their identities because they're so small. A larger, single European nation would eventually develop into something akin to the US.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                                                                                                Sorry for nipicking, but it's the OCD in me: LA to Las Vegas is approx 480 km.

                                                                                                                                                                                Calais to Paris is about 300 km going NW. From France to Schweiz oder Deutschland is approx 480 km.

                                                                                                                                                                                But your point is well taken. You drive a couple hours here in the US and you don't leave the state (and in rush hour, the city). Whereas you can travel across countries in the same amount of time almost anywhere else in the world.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: OCAnn

                                                                                                                                                                                  Oh, close enough. :-P

                                                                                                                                                                                  3000 km from LA is Grand Rapids, MI -- slightly different but still very American. Many of the same foods are eaten in LA and GRR. 3000 km from Paris is Lefkosia (Cyprus), about as different as it's possible to get with very little overlap in food (other than ethnic outposts, obviously).

                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                                                                                                  I wouldn't be so sure that Europe could ever end up as homogenized as the U.S. There are special forces here, that are rarely found around the world... namely an obsession over data, statistics, uniformity, simplicity, change, etc., The same thing that has made us a prosperous, economic monster also creates boring, uniformity. Other cultures don't have the same values. Mexico is 1/3 the size of the U.S., and despite not having nearly the same # of immigrants it retains much sharper regional & ethnic differences than the U.S.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                                                                                    I would have never considered the US to be homogenized, boring or uniform in the way of food. As a matter of fact, I think there are quite sharp regional differences in cuisine across the states. Pennsylvania cuisine is different than South Carolina, which is different than California, which is different than Texas, Hawaii, etc. As a matter of fact, just look at the differences in regional barbecue in places such as Texas, Memphis and Kansas City.
                                                                                                                                                                                    I think to say that American food is homogenized is pushing it a bit.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: QueenB

                                                                                                                                                                                      Just stay away from McDs, KFC, Applebees, Chili's, Outback, and their ilk. Certainly a major contributor to the perception of homogenization in American cuisine.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Woodside Al

                                                                                                                                                                                        Unfortunately, the those (and some grocery brands) tend to represent the vast bulk of what is eaten in the U.S. While there are certainly regional variations... the variations are smaller than they could be (compared to other parts of the world).

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                                                                                          I agree completely. It should be absolutely counter-intuitive or ingenious (or creepy) that a McDonald's cheeseburger or a Budweiser for example can taste virtually identical from coast to coast. When you consider the uniformity of the product combined with the volume produced along with the vast geography that distribution must be covered it is impressive in many ways (and leads to mediocre and boring food).

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: QueenB

                                                                                                                                                                                        But look at the push to have all the "good" regional foods available everywhere. Bbq joints purporting to represent any one region (or every one, which is far worse) , show up in most metrolitan areas. Jim Leff remarked on his analysis of his chow tour that Vietnamese restaurants are everywhere. Most towns larger than pin have a pizza joint, a diner, take-out chinese and some chains. So while every restaurant in town doesn't resemble its neighbor, most towns of comparable size offer a similar array of restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: thinks too much

                                                                                                                                                                                          And you can find German, Italian, Indian, Vietnamese, Chinese and many other country's restaurants in France. Heck, you can even find a McDonald's.

                                                                                                                                                                                          As for having the "good" regional foods everywhere, sure they try. But it's never going to be the same as the real thing. Just as your generic Chinese take-out resto is not going to match something you'd get in China, your local BBQ joint in Pittsburgh isn't going to match anything here in Texas. And regional food isn't all about the "good". Shoo-fly pie is good, scrapple is good, yet you can't find these all over the country. America is full of regional cuisine that you just can't find an equal to anywhere else.

                                                                                                                                                                                          I guess I just don't understand why people are blind to the differences in regional American cuisine. Sometimes I think folks like to put down America and it's culture...sometimes even people who live here, which is sad, as we should be proud of the nation we live in, even with all it's quirks.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Guess it's not "fashionable" to be American any more. Too bad, I'll still wear it loud and proud.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: QueenB

                                                                                                                                                                                            America has lots to offer in terms of local foods. We have been and are a melting pot and the food reflects that. I'm happy to live in this country and explore all it has to offer. No, it's certainly not 'fashionable' to be an American and there are good reasons for that - none of which have anything to do with food. As a German-American (naturalized US citizen), I'm not big on pride period. There's a reason it's number one on the list of seven deadly sins.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: QueenB

                                                                                                                                                                                              Lets not get dramatic here... there ARE regional differences in the U.S. but they are comparatively small for a country of this population and geographic size.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                                                                                                Boy, I couldn't disagree more. I have lived or spent appreciable amounts of time in most parts of the country (the PNW being a notable exception) and the food people eat at home differs wildly from region to region.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Is it all good? No, not at all... but neither is all food in France good. What the average American family serves for dinner in California is very different to what the average American family serves for dinner in Iowa, which is different to what the average American family serves for dinner in Maine. And let's not even get into Alaska and Hawai'i.

                                                                                                                                                                                                I agree, though, that the differences aren't so markedly different as places in Europe a similar distance apart (Spain and Russia vs. New Mexico and Indiana), but as I keep saying, we have a fairly homogeneous society -- we are one country, not thirty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yes, we are one big country. And the ease of moving from one state to another facilitates regional cuisines moving from one area to another as well.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  For instance, I moved from Philly to Dallas. When I cook at home here, I still cook with what I consider "Philly flair". However, as time goes on, I incorporate more Southern style into my home cooking. I've done brisket and pintos and I've also done cheesesteaks.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  I've introduced Texans to some PA regional cuisine, which they are now making in their own homes. Will this eventually become a trend, making Texan food the same as PA food? Nope. Texas will still retain it's individual regional cuisine.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  I think a lot of it also depends on where certain cultures settled in the past. The food of the Southwest has a lot of Mexican roots, while where I came from up North has a lot of German and PA Dutch roots. The cooking is completely different. The ingredients are different.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Chain restaurants are a whole different story. I'm talking about food made at home and food that regions are known for. There are quite a number of them here in the US.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Anyway, some of us will agree to disagree. That's why there's the 'hound! Debating different opinions.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Dramatic. Now, that makes me laugh.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: QueenB

                                                                                                                                                                                                QuuenB, I'm sorry if you think that I am running down America; that wasn't my intention. My point was not that Chinese take-out is the same as food in China, but that Chinese take-out is similar across the country (this country, that is.) Of, course, there are differences, just check other threads on Chowhound, but I speak in generalities.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Sure, there are still regional specialties that are available if you look carefully or if you are aware or if you visit Chowhound regularly. But these are harder to find today than twenty years ago with the spread of chains at different price levels (It's not just McD's, we have Olive Garden and Ruth's Steakhouse) which purport to sell a consistent product nation-wide.

                                                                                                                                                                                                The more we glorify regional food, the more people read about it and want it in their town, whether it's soul food in Minneapolis and or Dinosaur BBQ in NYC. I see that as both good that we want to broaden our palates at home, but sad because it serves to flatten out the experience of eating regionally.

                                                                                                                                                                                                It's been a while since I was back there, but chains weren't making much of a dent in continental Europe, last time I checked. Without a nation-wide marketing plan, the food restaurant offer have a stronger tendency to reflect the region. Though the Doner Kebab Parlor and the Eis Cafe may be Germany's equivalent of America's small town eats offerings. *grin*

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: thinks too much

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sure, I understand what you're saying.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Perhaps I'm more aware of it, because whenever I travel around the country (and world), I always am on the lookout to experience the local cuisine. In my mind, it's just as important to try the cuisine as to see the sights. Part of the whole regional experience, I guess.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  I also may be more aware of it because I've lived in two very different and distinct regions of America. There are certainly things here that I couldn't find in my old home state, and vice versa. Just try to find a TastyKake or Shoo Fly Pie or scrapple in a store in Texas!

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                                                                                                          Though when you speak of someone being well-travelled, then really it's not in terms of miles. And even then, maybe your average chowhounder is as well travelled as your average European, but overall, I don't think you can say that of the 'average American' - whatever that may actually mean.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. Looking at the Northeast we do not share as profound a regional cuisine tradition as the South for two main reasons I believe:

                                                                                                                                                                              1) Industrialization
                                                                                                                                                                              2) Population

                                                                                                                                                                              In the Northeast people tended to live and work in high density urban areas and away from farms. Getting food to this many people who are significantly removed from the land lead to centralization, mechanization, preservative usage, etc, all which I believe lead to poor(er) and more centralized food at home.

                                                                                                                                                                              11 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                                                                I disagree. The NYC area has several distinctive, ethnically-influenced, cuisines that are pretty much unseen in the rest of the country (just look at the number of posts by ex-NYers on various boards looking for this or that item they just can't find elsewhere). Certainly parts of New England and southeast Pennsylvania have distinctive cuisines, as, arguably, does Philadelphia and Maryland. If anything, our cuisines up here are more distinctive over smaller areas than down south.

                                                                                                                                                                                Now the growing predominance of suburban chain dining has endangered this distinctiveness pretty much as it has anywhere else in the country, but I still find many more small and locally run places around here than I do in many places in the upper midwest (where I grew up). There it's often chains, chains, chains all the way, interspersed with bland family restaurants and Americanized ethnic foods, and a lot of folks' idea of a big night out is Outback or Red Lobster.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Woodside Al

                                                                                                                                                                                  I understand what you are saying completely. But I guess that I’m saying that relative to the agrarian South your typical Northeasterner has traditionally been more dependent upon industrialized food production and hasn’t enjoyed the same level of intimacy with the land as say a person raised in Georgia or South Carolina.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                                                                    Pardon my interruption, but weren't we talking about German food? I've been checking back on this thread to see more about German food, and all I see recently has been discussion re: Americanized cuisine, how it has changed, etc. Maybe start a new thread? Just a suggestion --

                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                                                                  The Northeast also has significant rural areas, resulting in what I would say are also a profound regional cuisines, even if they might not be as popular or recognized as Southern cooking. These areas produce some of the best food I've found in the States. Much of Vermont, Maine, rural Mass, and upstate NY are as rural as it gets. I also have found a lot of restaurants with healthy options, with an emphasis on locally grown organic produce when I've travelled through Vermont, something that is still rare in the South in my experience.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Most of my Southern cookbooks rely on canned and processed foods, especially salty processed pork products, probably more than the Northeastern cookbooks.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: phoenikia

                                                                                                                                                                                    Without denying anything that you've stated, I think that we can agree (can't we?) that the South is more agrarian than the Northeast traditionally.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                                                                      I don't think agrarian roots necessarily result in specialised cuisine. Italian-American food, though popular everywhere, reaches its zenith in the Northeast, from approximately Boston to Philadelphia (or so -- don't be all nitpicky!).

                                                                                                                                                                                      I think the Northeast has MORE regional and ethnic influences, the result being that no one influence is dominant the way it is in the South.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                                                                                                        I understand you but I really wasn't considering "ethnic" cuisine (i.e Greek, Italian, Jamaican, Cuban, Vietnamese, etc) as American "regional" cuisine. Again though I understand and appreciate what you are saying.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                                                                          It's all "ethnic", really - just goes farther back. Consider New York pizza and how far back that goes and to what extent that's considered New York cuisine vs. southern BBQ and its origins. The people on the south board are always complaining about a lack of good pizza down here.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: suse

                                                                                                                                                                                            I hear you but as Mason said to Dixon, I'd like to draw the line somewhere. At this point I'd like to think for example that Low Country Cuisine (with African and other "ethnic" roots) is clearly considered simply "American" regional cuisine with no other hyphenations required. Nor would Low Country be considered an “Americanized” version of any cuisine; it is again simply American regional cooking. Whereas something like pizza whether it’s New York style, Chicago style, etc, will always be inexorably linked to Italy.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                                                                              YET.....Chicago and New York style pizza is so different than what you get in most of Italy. Don't you think?

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: suse

                                                                                                                                                                                                And Chicago and New York pizza are very different from each other as well. Yet whether made in Chicago, New York or Naples the dish would clearly be identified as pizza with its origin in Italy. In other words they are a "take" on an established dish. An interpretation if you will. Low Country and New Orleans cuisine have to me clearly distinguished themselves from their roots in a coherent enough manner (marrying a variety of influences) to have formed an independent identity (i.e. great American Cuisine).

                                                                                                                                                                                3. Just saw a news item that the International Association for the Study of Obesity named Germany the most obese country in the world, with 75% of the males and 59% of the females obese. But I LOVE German food, the diversity of the different parts of the country and their use of ingredients. MOderation is the key, of course----too many dumplings are nicht so gut!

                                                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mothrpoet

                                                                                                                                                                                    I'd really question that study. North Americans are way more obese than Germans. Germans also tend to be more fit than Americans and Canadians.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: phoenikia

                                                                                                                                                                                      Boy, I don't know -- the young folks are far more fit in Germany but the older folks tend to be quite rotund.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: mothrpoet

                                                                                                                                                                                      That can't be. Seriously. Whenever I come back from Germany, I'm blown away by how much more obese Americans are. I have to look into this. The most overweight people in my entire family are the ones who emigrated to the US.

                                                                                                                                                                                    3. 3 of the best meals I have ever had were in Germany. Granted, not of the sauerbraten/bockwurst variety (which I do love). These were fancy-schmancy restaurants but man! the food was stellar.

                                                                                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: chaddict

                                                                                                                                                                                        It is perfectly logical for a major city (which where I'm assuming that you ate) to have great restaurants. Great food can be had in many places. Do you recall where you ate?

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                                                                          Actually, 2 of the places were in the "country." One was outside of Ludwigsaffen (sp???) in an old winery I think. This was a pretty fancy, multicourse meal. The other was an old inn outside of Cologne. Simple but excellently executed. The third was in a city, Cologne.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: chaddict

                                                                                                                                                                                            How would you describe the food, Continental, German?

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                                                                              I don't know how to describe it. They would say it's German...

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Why is German food not as popular in the US as Italian? Like many if not most historical questions, the answer might be found in the accretion of effects of the chance concatenation of seemingly insignificant random events. Why does one guy become a famous movie star while another actor, with the same if not better looks and talent, who works even harder, languishes in obscurity? Well, the first guy came to Hollywood and just by chance he heard some people talking in a bar about casting some play so he went over to them and landed a part and just by chance a big-time agent went to one of the performances because a girl he liked had a bit part, and he saw the guy onstage and liked his acting and offered him a small part in a major movie and... Life is like that. So is cuisine. A guy in Chicago opens a Mexican restaurant, doesnt get any business, decides to offer something new, just by chance he reads about something called Pizza, and he converts his restaurant into a pizzeria and it's such a big success he opens a whole chain of them.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Two further thoughts. German cuisine, like English and central European, has somehow been stereotyped as leaden and totally boring. Also, here in Tulsa where I currently am, the German-American Society has organized a German fest. All my neighbors are so excited... the main offering is food, and some of the baked goods sell out within an hour of opening. http://home.att.net/~gastulsa01/Germa...

                                                                                                                                                                                        29 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Brian S

                                                                                                                                                                                          Question: Forgetting the United States for a moment, where have you seen (besides in Germany maybe) German food's popularity outpace Italian, French, or any variety of East Asian cuisines?

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                                                                                                                Unfortunately, I haven't traveled (yet) to either Namibia or Switzerland. However, I have been to: Quebec City, Montreal, Toronto, Kitcher-Waterloo, Ocho Rios, San Juan, London, Cheshunt, Manchester, Liverpool, Brussels, Paris, Loire Vallee, Saint Tropez, Aix En Provence, Marseille, Madrid, Toledo, Athens, Rome, Florence, Milan, Venice, Genoa and Helsinki actively seeking out "cuisine" (as many of us do) and have never seen any significant representation of German cuisine in any of these places.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I have visited: Bahamas, Mexico, Belize, Canada, Portugal, Jamaica, Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, England, Ireland, and Belgium. And I have lived in the United States and Germany. I can't comment on the history of food in these areas... but I have been thinking about this thread a lot as I go about eating my way through Germany... yesterday we spent the day in Cologne; I had coffee and a rhubarb pastry for breakfast, I had baked cheese with cranberry sauce and brown bread for lunch (which is actually a common dish here) and my husband had sauerbraten with a potato dumpling, spinach, red cabbage and applesauce, and for diner we had doener kebaps. During the course of the day we walked by many, many restaurants... German, Italian, Indian, Thai, bakeries, butcher shops (which sell sandwiches), doener stands, Chinese, and ONE "American" restaurant... what could we read into that?

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Foodie in Friedberg

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Well, yeah. The argument isn't about whether American cuisine as such is somehow world class - not that there isn't fantastic food here, but all the great stuff here is clearly connected to other great cuisines with more history behind them. I posted the orginal comment here about German food getting a bum rap, and my point wasn't to say that German food was somehow one of the grand cuisines, but rather to point out that our notions of German cuisine here in the States are limited and that there's more to it than what a lot of people associate with it - sausages and sauerkraut. That's been fairly well established and supported by the many posts in this thread, I think. Chinon00 is still somehow trying to support a thesis that German food is inherently inferior or purely derivative because he doesn't see German restaurants everywhere he travels.No one is arguing that it's somehow as widespread as French or Italian or Chinese. Just because something is widespread, doesn't make it inherently better somehow. Right now in our area - Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill NC - one of the hottest new restaurants on everybody's must list is German/Polish. Probably because it's really good, not because it's German/Polish. It's been interesting to read everybody's ideas about why German food isn't around as much as say, Italian or French food, but ultimately, I think we all know it's for all of those reasons and more. No one has to be right here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: suse

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm mostly German. My heritage is German, Irish, English.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      I realize now as an adult that my parents, aunts, and Grandmother never cooked with GARLIC!!! I mean.........I grew up and became a pretty good cook. How did we survive without garlic?
                                                                                                                                                                                                      My favorite food is definitly Italian which I cook all the time.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      I don't actually cook "German" food to my knowledge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: glorious1

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I know. I'm 100% German and I couldn't live without garlic...or my rice cooker, for that matter. I probably cook more Asian food than German food, but I do cook some German food - lots of spaetzle and I bake almost exclusively German. But I bet you cook plenty of food that originated in Germany - I mean, there's a reason they're called "hamburgers" - from Hamburg, right. Frankfurters.... Frankfurt.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: suse

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I believe that the merits of the cuisine have significant influence on their popularity. The idea that primarily chance (as some have suggested) has dictated to us French, Italian, Mexican and East Asian, for example, to have gained popularity on the world scene versus say German, Irish and Polish cuisine (which I don't think are "bad" by the way) just isn't reasonable as I see it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        By the way are you talking about "J. Betski's" as one of the hottest new restaurants on everybody's must list in Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill NC?

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                                                                                          It is illogical to suggest that the merits of a cuisine alone will determine its popularity. Other forces, such as history, economics or chance, will always be a factor.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Washington, DC, for instance has a vibrant Ethiopian restaurant community and many grocery stores. It is one of the intrinsically finest of Africa's cuisines but there is also a large Ethiopian expat community in Washington that you won't find in Lincoln, Nebraska. How many Ethiopian restaurants will there ever be there, however fine that cuisine might be?

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I never said that the merits of a cuisine alone determine its popularity. I said that it factors significantly. To address your Ethiopian example the expat experience does add a vibrancy and can create interest in a cuisine. Obviously we don't have as much German migration to the US as we've had in the past. Where I live though we've had significant Russian and Eastern European immigration over the past 20 years or so which has led to restaurant openings. Their popularity however has never reached the level of say Vietnamese or Indian (two other recent immigrants). I'd have to conclude that the relative merits of the cuisines (among other things) have had significant impact on these results.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Judging "popularity" simply by the number of restaurants may give a skewed picture. Immigrants from some cultures may be more likely to open restaurants than others and some cuisines lend themselves more easily to it as well. The street and market foods of Latin America, East Asia, and Latin America are easily translated into simple easy-to-open restaurant format. This type of food isn't as common or varied in Moscow, Prague, Warsaw and Budapest. They might be more complex, expensive, and difficult to achieve for an average immigrant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Could you please elaborate on how it is more complex, expensive and difficult to open a family style Eastern European restaurant versus a family style Indian or Vietnamese restaurant? I don't understand.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Yup. J. Betski's. Haven't been there yet....have you?

                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. re: suse

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Believe it or not, your original post was truly thought provoking for me. My final statement () is that much of the world has become more of a melting pot than it was even thirty years ago, and German food "melts" into American food more easily than Chinese or Thai and eventually loses its German identity. The melting pot is happening here in Germany as well; and what your original question has left me with as I wander around this country is what makes German food "German" and if something doesn't seem stereotypically German, Italian, Thai, etc.... what IS it??

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Foodie in Friedberg

                                                                                                                                                                                                              When you can get Andeanized Spaetzle in Cuzco you know the rapid rate of economic globalization has spread to food as well EVERYWHERE... well almost everywhere.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Getting this back on track... and trying to add some controversy... while I earlier stated that alot of the negative American perception of German food probably comes from bad, unrepresentative tourist experiences... and while I still contend German food is not bad... I have to say it doesn't seem to exciting or distinguished. Good enough for people there to live well... but not impressive enough to really catch on around the world as more deserving culinary traditions have.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jmarcg

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ultimately, I do think Foodie in Friedberg has a very valid point. Eat Nopal's "not impressive enough" vs. "more deserving culinary traditions" brings us back to the same old argument. I stick by my contention that it boils down to a multiplicity of factors (see the myriad of posts), not just the fact that you might think pho is more worthy than spaetzle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: suse

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Culinary merit is surely not the only factor... there are other geopolitical concerns... otherwise what else could possibly explain Taco Bell's success in China? That is why we are here... to explore, analyze & debate true culinary merit. That said... its very difficult to make a convincing case to put German cuisine on the same plane as say... Ethiopian... for example.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Taco Bell in China is owned by Yum! Brands, the world's largest restaurant company, which also owns all the KFCs and Pizza Huts in China - thousands of stores. They are heavily promoted and highly popular with the Chinese who are looking for new things - not necessarily culinary merit.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Fast food is trendy and the Chinese are no different than Americans in that regard.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Ethiopian and German - two entirely different cuisines. I'd never put them on the same plane. Are you saying that German has less culinary merit than Ethiopian or vice versa? Either way, that would be absurd.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: suse

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I like Ethiopian cuisine more... for the relative complexity of its flavors, likeability combined with some level of exoticism (similar to Thai).... and it really is a unique cuisine... one that has a long history of contributions to global food culture (particularly considering its contributions to Ancient Egypt.. and hence Western Culture).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            German on the other... not bad at all... but isn't as distinctive or unique to me. Maybe because the formal, classic dishes (the christmas roasts etc.,) just remind me of the bland side to Mexican Creole home cooking... Again good, nourishing food... just nothing to excite me as much as Ethiopian.. for example.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I wrote that before in other responses but it is quite obvious that you mainly ate in some tourist restaurants and don't have much experience in German cuisine beyond this. It is like explaining a blind person that one bird is green and another blue. If you haven't experienced the food extensively you will always argue that it isn;t distinctive or unique because you never tasted the "right" stuff. I know from your other posts that you are quite experienced in Mexican food which I am not. I had so far relative limited experience with Mexican food and most of it was ok but nothing outstanding. But I would never say that Mexican cuisine isn't as distinctive or unique. I think too many people in this discussion have limited experience with German food and think that this is enough to make a general statement about the importance (or not) of German food. With my limited experience of Mexican food I would never make any kind of general statement about this type of food but only about certain dishes or restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Fair enough... you are right I don't know that much about German cuisine. My main experience was the cooking of an an ex girlfriend from Bavaria... everything was good but like I said it just reminded me of home cooking I grew up with (Chicken baked in a Clay Pot with Lemon & Fines Herbs, Potatoes etc.,)... not everthing was the same but the dish concepts were essentially the same, with the difference that almost everything in Mexico also has Chiles.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                But I am very willing to be proven wrong! Note, please don't bring up recent immigrant food to Germany... Doner Kabobs etc., this is a trend all over the world even in remote places. When I visited Peru, I could tell everybody was impressed by their Euro-Peruvian fusions but its just not that unique.... don't get me wrong I think the recent globalization of food is really great and I do enjoy the results... in fact one of my favorite dishes is Camarones a la Diabla over Fetuccine Alfredo, and I really dig Hamburgers with chopped bacon & chorizo in the patty... but while these superficial Fusions can be very tasty... they are happening at such a massive scale around the globe that I am just not inclined to be impressed by a particular Cuisines recent fusions (in terms of overall merit).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The conversation you two (honkman and EN) reminded me of my reply to the post dealing with recipes only your family made. Mine was sausage (or weiners) and sauerkraut in a hot wheat tortilla!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Wurst und Sauerkraut in einer Tortilla: Mexikanisch - deutsches Schmelzverfahren!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Chorizo y chukrut en una tortilla de harina: una fusion de las comidas Mexicana y Alemana!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sure, Ethiopian is more "exotic" whatever that means - i.e. different from American than German, but that's already been well established on this post. So you like Ethiopian better - that's cool but just because you like it better doesn't make it better or more distinctive or "unique" - surely the influence of Indian spices on Ethiopian cuisine has not been lost on you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: suse

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I think Ethiopian spicing goes well beyond Indian and shares characteristics with Morocco and the Middle East etc.,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Anyway what I am really interested in is someone calling me out... and schooling me on what is distinctinctive, fine, creative etc. about German cuisine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  But... here is another thing you are not going to impress me by... don't tell me about the high end, fine dining restaurants that essentially serve the same brand of in fashion, contemporary international "Regional" cuisine that you can find from San Francisco to Lima to Cairo. I am tired of people telling me that you can take well established International dishes, make a few minor tweaks using locally grown ingredients and call it regional cuisine. No.. Alice Watters you are not that cool... no Laja your "Baja-Meditterranean" cuisine isn't that innovative or identifiable to Baja California etc.,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Alright... I will respond to myself. There is one major contribution from Germany (and other Germanic countries including the U.S.) to the culinary world that IS distinctive, distinguished and creative.... baked goods, desserts & sweets.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Among the world's great cuisines... you often find phenomenal variety, skill and creativity... among the savory dishes but a great neglect for desserts and sweets. Now some may try to argue that desserts and sweets just aren't that important (outside of the U.S. and those countries) BUT I would note how many of those world's great cuisines actually just borrow German, Germanic & U.S. desserts with very little changes... and put them on dessert menus in their most formal settings etc.,

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Almost none of these posts contradict my take on this:

                                                                                                                                                                                                      No one who has eaten in Germany does not love it. However, German Food in the USA IS LOUSY. A few experiences with overpriced, salt laden tasteless wurst or sulfurous overcooked cabbage swimming in grease and the slamming is justified. The lowliest snack bar in Germany serves sausage with flavor and quality almost impossible to find here.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      U.S. style Industrial food can't do German. There, almost everything you eat just got hauled in from the farm at the edge of town. Meat, dairy, vegetables.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      And while I'm at it, Give me any old beer on tap in Germany over any of these precious American microbrews that yuppies are oohing and aahing about.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: atheorist

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Ok, then tell me, how do we get the good German food here to the United States? You are not suggesting that it isn't possible? Do you have any suggestions? Apparently the French, Italians, Mexicans, Indians, Thai and Chinese for example don't have the same issue with their cuisine here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Oh, but they do! One culture comes and the raw ingredients are different here, so it takes a while to settle in and adapt to what is available. And because of scarcity and expense, certain items take on a stronger importance to the American version of a dish than in its native country. Belgian endive is available, but so much more expensive here that using it in a dish isn't assumed; it's a statement.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Susanna Foo speaks about adapting her native cuisine by using different fresh ingredients rather than canned although appropriate ingredients. Use jicama rather than canned water chestnuts and artichokes rather than canned bamboo. It intrigued me to think that the process might be more authentic using inauthentic ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: thinks too much

                                                                                                                                                                                                              It intrigued me to think that the process might be more authentic using inauthentic ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I completely agree with regards to Mex cuisine.... so often the lack of ingredients is used as an artificial roadblock to making a more representative offering.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: thinks too much

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Ethiopian food in rural areas of Ethiopia is not very good. Usually there is little or no vegetable matter whatsoever. Poverty is the cause. Ethiopian food in the US gets to be expressed much better because of the wealth of available ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: thinks too much

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This is a good point that you make. One owner/chef of a local restaurant here makes schnitzels with chicken, because he says he can't find quality veal here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: aurora50

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If the quality of American food stuffs is significantly deficient how do we possibly have so many world recognized restaurants? Why do we even have this website for that matter?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: aurora50

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      What he meant by "here", is in Colton, CA., in the Inland Empire. I just meant to illustrate how regional food can morph into something else, depending where you are, and how "neccessity is the mother of invention".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: aurora50

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In The Apprentice, Jacques Pepin raved about the quality of veal here, when he immigrated in the late 50's compared to his native France. What a difference 45 years can make in our food supply structure. (I'm refraining from commenting about PETA on purpose)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. I can't convince you of the merits of German food with words... you'll just have to come here and try it for yourself.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  For more information on German cooking you can go to http://www.goethe.de/ins/ie/prj/scl/t... (yes, it is in English).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  For a brief overview of food in America I refer you to http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/hist...... but for those who don't want to read the whole thing I've copied excerpts here...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  "One of the first major forces for dietary change came from German immigrants, whose distinctive emphasis on beer, marinaded meats, sour flavors, wursts, and pastries was gradually assimilated into the mainstream American diet in the form of barbeque, cole slaw, hot dogs, donuts, and hamburger. The German association of food with celebrations also encouraged other Americans to make meals the centerpiece of holiday festivities."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  "Today, food tends to play a less distinctive role in defining ethnic or religious identity. Americans, regardless of religion or region, eat bagels, curry, egg rolls, and salsa--and a Thanksgiving turkey. Still, food has become--as it was for European aristocrats--a class marker. For the wealthier segments of the population, dining often involves fine wines and artistically prepared foods made up of expensive ingredients. Expensive dining has been very subject to fads and shifts in taste. Less likely to eat German or even French cuisine, wealthier Americans have become more likely to dine on foods influenced by Asian or Latin American cooking."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Foodie in Friedberg

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thanks, Foodie. Finally, someone looked at some expert sources to settle this matter. Now why didn't I think of that? As far as finding good German food in the States, that's a local matter I think. And it is true, there's not nearly as much of it around as good French or Italian, depending on where you live and what you consider to be "good." One more note about derivations and influences - that's always happened and will continue to happen just about anywhere there is trade, which is just about everywhere now. Cultures borrow and assimilate. To those of you traveling to Germany, I say, check out CH recommendations - there is definitely some good German food over there. Ask about local specialties and have fun.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Foodie in Friedberg

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks for the link... I guess I knew a lot more about German cuisine than I thought. That Goethe site makes German cuisine seem even more simplistic than my personal experience with it. But, the recipes provided do highlight how unremarkable the cuisine is... not a lot of complexity.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. This long thread may be a bit out of date. The German food and restaraunt sector is showing huge financial gains this year after quite a few years of stagnation. Last year, according to a DW newscast, there were 50,000 new apprentice chefs and cooks. Fueling the boom was the World Cup, which attracted visitors from all over the globe and exposed them to German food. Same for Germans--many traveled to the different match venues and ate German food at new places.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. For me an indicator for a cuisine’s significance is its recognition and influence or utility upon chefs. Undoubtedly French is popular and has influenced many chefs. Many cuisines of Asia and Latin America have recently inspired chefs as well. The same is true with Italian (“Italifornian”). I’m not aware of this occurring with German cuisine to any significant level but maybe we will see a change.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            To be clear I have celebrated both the baked goods and beers of Germany as "world class" during this string. It is their more core cuisine that I find unremarkable (thus far). But again maybe we will witness a change.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Its sounds like they are going through a culinary rennaissance of sorts... from what I have seen it takes several decades for new ideas from abroad to be incorporated in a mature way (that certainly seems to be the case with California Cuisine & Mexico's contemporary Alta Cocina movements).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                True and when one compares German cuisine to German beer the difference is obvious:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. German beer has been recognized as a standard for beer making for centuries.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. It has been highly influential with its techniques and styles being imitated and adapted by brewers and breweries world wide.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. It has wide appeal and is a perennial favorite amongst both beer snobs and “average Joes” alike.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sadly outside of Germany we simply haven’t been able to say any of these things about German cuisine yet. But things could change.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. I just found this site and have not had a chance to read all 273 replies! I am going out of my mind since my trip back from the German Christmas markets (which by the way was the most wonderful experience my husband and I have had to date) It was great fun for him to go back to Heidleberg.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I hope someone can please answer my questions and possibly give me a lead where to purchase.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          While there, many Christms market stands throughout both Germany and Strasbourg offered a dome shaped, chocolate covered, very light, different flavored merengue filled goodie (Only word I can think of to describe it) The bottle was made of a wafer much like our ice cream cones. They were only .50 euro each or less.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Everyone was eating them.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          They were out of this world, no too sweet, just right. Does anyone know what they are called???!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Mary H

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Sounds like 'Schokokuss/Mohrenkopf' (Dickmann's is the most famous maker). Some info here, in German, but also in English if you click on left: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schokokuss

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I have read this whole thread and got a kick out of it!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Mit ganzes Herz fuer Deutchland.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Duh, the bottom was made of wafer not bottle.