Since the 18th Century in America, when the British sent mercenary Prussian and Hessian soldiers to these shores to fight in the American Revolution, German food has been a quiet staple of the American diet. German food?
Well, think about it, your frankfurter is a German sausage, and the hamburger, that most commonly eaten food in this country is named for Hamburg, Germany. When you stop by a fast food eatery and order the breaded fried chicken cutlet sandwich, it’s a schnitzel.
Immigrants to the United States from German-speaking countries brought with them some of their favorite foods. One of them was Hamburg Steak. The Germans simply flavored shredded low-grade beef with regional spices, and, both cooked and raw, it became a standard meal among the poorer classes. In the seaport town of Hamburg, it acquired the name Hamburg steak. Today, this hamburger patty is no longer called Hamburg Steak in Germany but rather “Frikadelle,” “Frikandelle” or “Bulette,” originally Italian and French words.
The hamburger became an American classic because of the invention of improved sausage making equipment for German sausage makers in America. Chopping lesser quality cuts of beef, they formed patties and sold those to their clients. Fast cooking, with a simple recipe; just put one fried or grilled between two pieces of bread and eat. The hamburger was an instant success. It also spoke to the American ideal of the 19th Century, a place where everyone could come and eat steak. Little did the immigrants know it was ground steak, but none cared as it was a vast improvement over their original, poor diets which usually lacked proteins.
Speaking of proteins, immigrants who came to America, often very short people, ate these burgers in such quantity that the proteins had a genetic effect. Children born of the next generation were taller, leaner and generally healthier – well, until the cholesterol caught up with their arteries. In my own family, an uncle and aunt, both less than 5’6″ tall, had two sons, both over 6 feet.
Germany is on the rise again, not necessarily in political terms, just gastronomic ones. We think that one of the next, future food trends will be modern German dishes, updated to contemporary culinary styles and standards.
German traditional food is not the healthiest in the world. Rich in butter, meat fats, starches and high in carbs, the typical German dish is crammed with less than healthy items, though that’s changing.
Here are some of our recipes for delicious, updated and classic German cuisine. Enjoy these “Teutonic Plates” with your family and celebrate America’s rich culinary bounty from German lands.
You can find hundreds more great German recipes by clicking here.
Germany is known for its wonderful Beers, which are vast in number and variety, each made with expert craftsmanship by the finest brewmasters in the world. Germany grows some of the best hops anywhere and many U.S. beermakers import their hops from there. Of course, there’s nothing like a decent beer with a good Bavarian Pretzel. Germany’s brewmasters enjoy celebrity reknown throughout the world today, for the excellence of their craft.
Most of Germany’s superior wineries can be found only a few miles from their French equivalents, though the French wines have usually taken a higher place in the view of most connoisseurs. Factually, the grapes grow in the same soil, same climate and are fermented in the same ways dating back to Roman days. German wines are superb, far less expensive and deeply appreciated by those who’ve tried them.
Christmas is in part, rooted in Germany as well. Our decorated trees come straight from the forest towns of northern Germany (evergreens don’t grow in Bethlehem). German food is also the food of many of our Christmas season traditions. Recipes like Springerle cookies, Hartshorn cookies, Stollen and Pfeffernusse help make Christmas delicious. All these any many more may be found in our outstanding collection of German recipes. Most of Germany’s holiday recipes have their roots in religious beliefs.
The same applies to Jewish cooking for Hanukkah. Friday Night Brisket is based on German cookery – Brisket of Beef with Sauerkraut and Dumplings, as are many other superb Jewish holiday recipes like Apple Charlotte, Sufganiyot (based on the Berliner) and Matzoh Balls. Even the glorious taste of Chopped Liver is founded on roots of Germanic cookery (Liverwurst). While this may sound controversial, owing to the very bad history of the mid 20th Century, most of these recipes were created in the Middle Ages, evolving right up to the present day. Both Jewish and German cuisines have had influences upon each other, to the betterment of both.
Many of our most common recipes have roots in German cuisine. Take for example Mustard. German mustard recipes range from the light and sweet to the thick and hearty. At Epicurus.com, we celebrate Mustard by publishing literally hundreds of choices, with many, if not most, having roots in Teutonic culinaria.
German cooks have not limited themselves to the world of pretzels and mustards by any measure. Some of the finest baked goods, pies, and cakes, breads, rolls and desserts also come from the lands of Germany. Even the French have shamelessly copied the Bavarian Cream and renamed it Bavarois. These airy, light dessert preparations can be made with berries, fruit, vanilla or chocolate. All of them simply scrumptious.
Without trying to sound unpatriotic, even our “All American” Apple Pie is really a German recipe – Blitzkuchen mit Apfeln. So too is the luscious cheesecake, rooted in the KaseKuchen. German cooks by far equal French and Italian and their cookery is seriously under-rated.
Perhaps you’ll try one or two of our simply delicious German recipes today.