German cuisine in Germany is rather different from German cuisine in the United States (US). Although they share many common ingredients, there are ingredients used in German cuisine that are rarely used in the US. Sauerkraut is under the misnomer here in the US that it should be sour, quite contrary to the way it is served in Germany, it has a bite but, is definitely not considered to be sour. Sauerkraut is made from pickled cabbage, wine, an apple or two, juniper berries, bit of sugar, potato and smoked pork. Many German dishes incorporate juniper berries which are quite plentiful in Germany; however, in the US they are eliminated from cuisine. Some other ingredients used in German cuisine in Germany and not the US are: whole black pepper, pork/bacon fat, wine such as a German Riesling, and beer. Frankfurters in Germany (actually invented in Frankfurt, Germany) are much different from the US; they actually taste more like a sausage containing better ingredients than they do in the US. Potato pancakes in Germany are actually pan fried potatoes containing no pancake mix, contrary to beliefs in the US where potato pancakes are deep fried and many times contain pancake mix.
Pork is the most popular meat used in German cuisine making Germany famous for its over 1,500 different kinds of sausages! The German word for sausage is "wurst." In addition to the usual chicken or beef, they also eat a lot of meat that’s less common in the United States: goose, boar, rabbit, goat, and venison are common all-year round in Germany. Turkey, however very common in the US is considered quite a treat in Germany. Let us not forget the popular “Weinerschnitzel”, made from tenderized veal, that is breaded and pan fried. This traditional schnitzel will be served with a lemon or gravy. There are some variations that add a fried egg on top.
As for fish, the most common is trout and herring either pickled or smoked. Cod and flounder are popular dishes amongst Germans because it is so abundant in the Baltic Sea. Vegetables are used as side-dishes, the most common being sauerkraut, red cabbage, peas and mushrooms. Many fresh vegetables are used in stews and vegetable soups. Meat dishes most often are served with fried onions added and can actually take the place of a vegetable in Germany.
Potatoes are not considered a vegetable to Germans but, are generally paired up with dishes and will be pan fried, mashed or boiled. They do not have American French fries except in American-style restaurants. Instead, they have “pommes frites,” called pommes, which are basically fried potatoes or home fries as we would know them here. They eat a lot of noodles, although they’re thicker than pasta noodles, these are known as "spaetzle." Spaetzle can be dumpling like or like a spaghetti noodle that is thicker and denser. Spaetzle are handmade pasta made of flour, eggs and salt, the difference is in their shape that distinguished them from another form of pasta. Dumplings are considered a staple and are made with either meat or potatoes.
A typical German meal consists of two to seven courses. Most meals consist of an appetizer such as cheese, a soup, and a main course which is usually a meat accompanied with side dishes of a starch and a vegetable. Desserts or “nachtisch” is a separate course generally eaten around 4 PM in the afternoon. Nachtisch is meant to be shared with family or friends to talk about the days’ events and relax. Dessert is usually served with coffee or tea and beer or wine. No dessert is ever served without whipped cream and this is the real kind called “schlagsahne.” One of Germany’s most popular desserts is the Black Forest Cake or “ Schwarzwälder Kirschtort” it is believed to have originated in the Black Forest Region of Germany in the 16th century. It is a dense chocolate cake soaked with cherry brandy or “kirsch liquer”, topped with whipped cream, chocolate shavings and cherries.
Beer in Germany is served at room temperature to enhance its full-bodied flavors and ingredients. Beer is enjoyed at all times of the day and during the warmer months the addition of lemon-lime soda is added, making it the perfect summer drink known as a “rattler.”
In its earliest days, German cuisine was different depending on the region. Saxony-Anhalt cuisine consisted heavily of wheat, barley, and rye-rich foods, including “burger knackebrot” or crisp-bread. Since they’re near the sea, cuisine was also heavy on fish like whitefish and a cheese called "Milbenkase." Thuringia regional cuisine focused more on vegetables like cauliflower, cucumber, and cabbage in addition to wheat. The region is covered in forests, meat from deer, duck and rabbits are plentiful, however, many dishes have crossed the regional divide and can be found everywhere in Germany.
Germany has some unique cuisine. For the next Father’s Day, you can consider (breakfast gift baskets) of authentic German food to give him a little surprise. If you are ever invited by a German family for dinner, surprise the host with a (beer gift basket).