Top 10 foods to try in Germany

Wisconsin owes many of its delicious food traditions to German culture, from brats and beer to potato salad and pretzels. I was thrilled when my travels led me to Germany, the original land of so many foods that we love to enjoy in Wisconsin.

1. Bratwurst

It doesn’t matter where you are in Germany, you will never be far from a place that sells bratwursts, and there are over forty varieties to try, so you better start eating! Forget about flimsy hot dog buns, these brats are served on firm bread rolls or with a tasty side of sauerkraut, red cabbage, or spätzle.

2. Spätzle

Spätzle is a noodle dish that consists of eggs, flour, salt and a little bit of spritzer water. When topped with Emmental cheese ad fried onions, it is called Käsespätzle (and it tastes like a fantastic macaroni ‘n cheese).

3. Rotkohl (red cabbage)

Traditionally, red cabbage was pickled in order to stretch out the cabbage-growing season in Europe. When it is cooked, the vegetable loses its acidity and turns blue. Vinegar or lemon juice must be added in order to retain its vivid red coloring. In both color and taste, this dish reminded me of the pickled beets that my German grandmother serves at Christmas time.

4. Apfelstrudel

Apfelstrudel is a beloved dessert in Germany; who wouldn’t love to eat a forkful of tart apple filling enveloped in flaky pastry? (Bonus points if it’s served with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Or both).

5. Currywurst

Currywurst is a sausage covered in a tomato based sauce and sprinkled with curry powder. It is usually served with a generous side of fries. Currywurst can be found on many restaurant menus, but it is also a popular street food item, making it convenient and budget friendly.

6. Pretzels

Just as many U.S. restaurants serve a basket of bread before a meal, beer gardens serve a basket of pretzels. I was amazed sheer number of street vendors that sold pretzels as a snack–or rather, a meal, since some of the doughy treats were larger than my head. Nothing says “I’m in Germany” quite like a beer in one hand and a pretzel in the other.

7. Wiener schnitzel

Although traditionally a veal cutlet, wiener schnitzel can also be made out of pork, chicken or pheasant. The meat is pounded into a cutlet, coated in breadcrumbs and pan fried to a golden brown. Enjoy with a side of potato salad!

8. White asparagus

Because it is grown underground, white asparagus does not produce any chlorophyll, thus the albino appearance. Whether it’s served in a creamy soup or steamed with a butter and salt, these tender stalks are a unique, must-try dish. Spargelzeit refers to the asparagus growing season, which lasts from late April to mid June; during this time you can find farmers markets selling the stalks and restaurants featuring it as a special on their menu.

9. Schweinshaxe (pork knuckle)

Perhaps my most adventurous bite of food while in Germany, a well-prepared pork knuckle is roasted until it is crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Potato dumplings are perfect for soaking up the gravy.

10. Kaiserschmarrn

Kaiserschmarrn translated means “Emperor’s Mess.” It owes its name to an Austrian ruler who loved to eat this fluffy, caramelized pancake. The simple batter includes flour, sugar, egg and rum-soaked raisins. After a few minutes on the skillet, the pancake is shredded with two forks and sprinkled with powdered sugar. When served with warm apple compote or plum sauce, this dish is heaven on a plate.