This’ll be my last post about spring break (are you bored yet?), and hopefully it’s a fun one: food! Food is something I didn’t really think about when I decided to go to Germany and the Czech Republic for spring break, and maybe I should have. As it was, I asked some people a few days before I left what people eat in Germany and all of the answers were the same: meat. Googling “traditional German foods” gave me the same answer. Perhaps I should have given this a bit more thought. Spain isn’t exactly a vegetarian-friendly country either, but at least in the south fish is a main staple of the diet, so once I decided to go pescatarian for the semester (and I’m probably going to stay this way when I go home; I like fish a lot) I was doing just fine. However, although I’m sure that the Germans eat fish, most of what I found about German cuisine went something along the lines of sausage, sausage, beer, sausage. Luckily, throughout the week I was pleasantly surprised to find delicious food that I could eat. Here are a few of my favourite meals:
Currywurst is a very popular food in Berlin, so I was excited when I found a restaurant that serves a vegan version. While my friend ate a hamburger, I had the vegan sausage, covered in ketchup and curry spices, along with some pommes frites. Now I can say I’ve eaten sausage in Germany!
Given that potatoes are basically their own food group to me, I definitely loved the abundance of potato dumplings at every restaurant. This was lunch time and I wanted something lighter, so along with my dumplings I ordered a cucumber salad. It turned out to be more like cucumber soup, with the cucumber slices floating in some sort of pickled water, but they were so fresh that it was really good anyway.
Street food is always a lot of fun, especially when it comes to desert (or snacks, or breakfast, or…)! At a market near the Tiergarten in Berlin a friend and I split slices of apple bread and a buttery cake bread. In Prague, booths selling trdelnik were everywhere. They cook these pastries on a spit and then cover them with sugar and bits of crushed nuts.
Speaking of street food, if you’re looking for a pretzel bigger than your head, Bavaria is the place to be. At a market in Munich, we bought these big pretzels that were crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, and in Salzburg we made a lunch out of enormous cheese pretzels. I’m pretty sure I got my bread servings for the next month!
The Hofbräuhaus is as much of a culture experience as it is a meal. The tables are big enough that you may end up sharing with other groups, and men in lederhosen play German music (and crack whips!?). Also, the beer comes in liters. The food is delicious, and that’s good because you kind of have to keep eating while you drink your liter of beer (did I mention it comes in liters?). Or at least, we chose to keep eating. After pumpkin-apple soup, spaetzel (doughy egg noodles with cheese and onions) and, oh yeah, that liter of beer, I was almost too full for apple strudel. Almost. It was an expensive meal for a college student (about 25 euro per person), but totally worth it.
The next night, we went to a different beer hall. This one had been recommended to me by a friend who is studying in the city, and it definitely lived up to her word. I ordered potato pancakes and was given the choice of sauerkraut or applesauce. I asked the waitress for her opinion and she said sauerkraut without hesitation. I’m not a big fan, but this was so fresh and flavourful that I couldn’t complain. Also, the beer I had here (Schneider Weisse Original) is by far the best beer I have ever drank (although I’m glad we opted only for the half-liter this time).
When we asked some guys at a bar in Munich what they recommended to do in Salzburg, their immediate answer was “try Mozart balls.” It seemed like an odd answer, but when we got to Salzburg we realized that these little chocolate candies, filled with pistachio, are everywhere. I saw at least three shops completely dedicated to selling Mozartkugel.
I also loved a barley dish called kuba that I had in Prague, but I didn’t take a picture of it. Anyway, it was a barley and mushroom casserole and it was delicious.
(Note: I’m not actually a very strict vegetarian. I’ve been eating fish here in Spain and main reason I don’t eat meat is because I haven’t eaten it in about eight years so I would feel weird starting now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these foods were made with some sort of animal product, and that’s pretty much okay with me).