Wednesday, April 27, 2011

German Foods

27 April 2011

It seems that the way to my readers' hearts is through their stomachs, so here is the post you have been waiting for.  Food, glorious food!

First, we have my new all time favorite fast food: Döner Kebap, which is of Turkish origin.  These shops have sprung up everywhere in recent years, and it's easy to see why.  The food is delicious, plentiful and cheap.  The shops usually display the meat on a spit somewhere near the front window.  It's lamb or goat and is shaved thinly with a long knife.  If the shop isn't busy when you arrive, it means the shavings will be nice and crispy, like good bacon.
 A flat bread resembling a square pita but less dry is spread with the sauce of your choice (herb, garlic or spicy) and then is layered with meat, lettuce, tomatoes, cabbage, onions, and more meat.  The end result resembles a tostada salad more than a gyro, so I felt a bit of trepidation about eating this without a fork.
The trick is to squish it just right so that none of the food falls out - no easy task! (For easier eating, it is also offered in a burrito style wrap called Durum Döner.)  At most shops the cook squashes it for you a bit.  Here is my local expert showing me the ropes.
End result? A huge meal that is filling, delicious and cheap.  Not to mention that döner shops are open till the wee hours.  McDonalds, eat your heart out!  

In case you have difficulty finding them, ice cream (Eis) shops all seemed to have this giant cone outside.  Mine!
 The ice cream inside the cases is NOT just dumped into a tub like in the USA, but is displayed beautifully, with fluffy scoops and garnishes.  Talk about "eye candy"!

Next on the menu: Quarkkeulchen, which are basically big donut holes.  Quark is a kind of fresh cheese that resembles a smooth ricotta.  I was kind of hoping for a filled confection, but the Quark is mixed in with the batter for richness.
 Mmmmmm... donuts.

Hot dogs!  Get your hot dogs!  Bratwurst (sausage) vendors are everywhere, from subway to shops to stalls to carts to these incredibly heavy looking backpack-grills.  Usually they sell several different varieties.

This Rostbratwurst was delicious, perfectly browned and crispy.  As far as I know, the only topping available was mustard, which isn't a problem because I like it that way.

For all their skill at engineering, the Germans have not yet figured out how to make the bread the same shape as the sausage... sigh.

Another food that is a "must" in Germany is Schnitzel.  We found a restaurant called Endlos that offered an "all you can eat" Schnitzel plate.  This is a relatively new phenomenon in Germany, so there is no "Hometown Buffet"; the restaurants offering it tend to be much more upscale.  At only 6€, this meal was very inexpensive, but the atmosphere of the restaurant was beautiful, and our waiter was attentive and friendly.  I had a glass of Riesling to make sure I didn't put them out of business.
This plate is bigger than it looks - I don't know how anyone could eat more than this of deep fried items, to be honest! On the right side are cylindrical potato croquettes.  This is the kind of meal you can't eat more than once a month, but yummy.

Oh, and by the way, as far as I can determine, "Wiener Schnitzel" means Schnitzel prepared in a Viennese style and has nothing whatsoever to do with hot dogs. What were those guys thinking when they named their hot dog chain in the USA?

Lastly, we have Spargel!  Spargel is asparagus, but unlike the USA, in Germany the popular variety is a fat white asparagus that is peeled before cooking to ensure you get only the tender part.  It is highly seasonal, so when it is in season, restaurants offer special dishes and advertise it heavily.  This first one says "Spargellust" ("Asparagus Love").
 And this one says "Spargelzeit" ("Asparagus Time").
I did try the Spargel in one restaurant, and it was delicious and tender.  Sadly, I forgot to take a photo of it before tucking in, and partially eaten food does NOT photograph nicely. :(

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