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Apr 19, 2007 09:08 AM

German food - undeserved bad reputation

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 -

          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. The original comment has been removed
              1. 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.

                28 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.

                        1. re: Jimbosox04

                          I make it all the time and it is delish.

                          1. re: Barbarella

                            Call it braciolettini and most Americans would inhale it.

                      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


                        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'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.