German food is a lot like eating in a traditional American diner: meatloaf, mashed potatoes, deviled eggs, potato salad, dill pickles, beef stew, chicken and dumplings, pot roast and chocolate cake. It is the quintessential home of meat & potatoes. And beer.
But lest you think the food is too simple to be enjoyed, and that this is all they offer, wait 'til you get there. The Germans actually make these dishes taste good -- largely because of the quality of the ingredients. This is a diet made for cold winter weather, designed for plenty of hard, physical labor. Besides protein, butter, cream, eggs and cheese are predominant. But take a look at the modern urban restaurants which are beginning to adapt to the more worldly trend of less protein and starch in the diets. There are lots of younger chefs paying attention to lighter, fresher foods. For leaner traditional cuisine, stick to the meats marinated in vinegar or wine.
On the German Menu
Westphalia ham with buttered bread and Steinhager (juniper-flavored brandy)
Wurst, sausages: Brunswick Mettwurst (Smoked pork), Weisswurst (veal & herb), Leberwurst (liver sausage).
Tafelspitz = braised beef with horseradish
Rosti = potato pancakes fried with onion and butter
Himmel und Erde = Heaven and Earth: pureed apples and potatoes topped with blood sausage
Schwarzwalder = Black Forest Cake, a chocolate cake with cherries, whipped cream, grated chocolate
Konigsberger Klopse = meatballs in caper sauce
Hackbraten = meatloaf (braten indicates a roast of some kind)
Sauerbraten = beef roast braised in wine or vinegar
Hassenpfeffer = rabbit stew
Schlachtplatte = mixed sausages, sauerkraut and potatoes
Cheers! Whatever language you use, raise a toast of either beer or wine. German beer is clearly the beverage of choice, with hundreds of varieties produced. Dark, light, aged, young, berry-flavored — the varieties are endless. Part of the fun of traveling through Germany is tasting the wide range of these brews. Look for those with full heads that leave foam, known as Brussels lace, clinging to the sides of your glass.
German wines tend to be sweeter and spicier than those of other European nations. The cool climate works well for white grapes but not for red ones, which are grown in only small quantities. Riesling, the queen of German wines, is sweet (as are most wines from this country), fruity and spicy. But if you are a Chardonnay or dry wine aficionado, you are better off foregoing wine and sticking to the pride of the nation: beer.