Ich liebe Deutschland

German Cuisine: Sausages and Beer

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History and Culinary Traditions of Germany

Due to a long history of localized governance, German cuisine varies greatly from region to region.

However, the country can be roughly divided into three culinary regions: Northern, Central, and Southern. The Northern region contains the cities of Berlin and Hamburg, borders the North and Baltic Seas, and shares many culinary traits with nearby Denmark and Sweden.

The North and Baltic Seas provide the Northern region a vast array of fresh fish and seafood. Fresh sardines and herring historically were eaten in large numbers and were often salted or pickled. Trout, pike, carp, and perch are all common freshwater fish. Common dishes, which are shared with their Flemish neighbors, are large open-faced sandwiches topped salted meat or pickled fish. The American hamburger is thought to be descended from these sandwiches.

Beets, cabbage, barley, hops, and rye are grown in thousands of small farms. While being important food staples, barley, rye, and hops are also used to create beer, by far the most popular drink in Germany. The oldest food regulation in the world is known as the “Purity Law”, or the Reinheitsgebot, and was established in 1516 by Duke Wilhelm IV of Bavaria. Still existing today unchanged, it states that beer should only be brewed from barley, hops, and water. Schnapps, a liquor similar to gin flavored with juniper berries, is also a common drink.

Beef, goose, wild game, and lamb are all eaten in the North. However, pork is the most common meat consumed, usually in the form of sausages. Next to beer, sausages are the next most popular German food. Historically, sausages were created to help preserve meat and to use under-utilized parts of butchered animals (tongue, liver, heart, blood, etc). Today, there are over 1500 different types of sausage with every major German city boasting their own particular variations. Braunschweiger, a type of liver sausage made in the city of Braunschweig, is an example popular in the North.