Part 2 of 4 series looking at the comparisons between America and Germany:
Part 2 – Food culture
Part 3 – Exercise culture
Part 4 – Review and goals
It occurred to me that I know absolutely nothing about German food culture beyond the three B’s: beer, bread, and bratwurst.
My perceived viewpoint was reinforced during my vacations in Germany coupled with a quick online search. It turns out that traditional German cuisine–although slightly different per region–mostly consisted of meat, dairy, beer, and sugar.
Until I dug deeper into my search, I discovered that I was wrong. Ask anyone in Germany (or Europe) what is American cuisine, they will almost always say hamburgers. We know that people in all regions in the U.S. eat hamburgers (or the veggie variety) but this does not define our food culture as a whole nor does it describe correctly the differences in regional cuisine.
Chefs in Germany are whole-heartedly changing the perception of what is German cuisine. For the past 10 years or so, they are focused on moving “towards a more lighter cooking, towards lighter Grande Cuisine. There are movements towards a new revival of the regional cuisine in Germany,” says Lothar Tubbesing in German Food: Recent Changes. He continues, “German cooking today is much more a regional-based, light kitchen style. We still use masses of real cream, we still use tons of real butter, just the way nature gave it to us.”
Perhaps it’s time for me to reassess my viewpoint about this country’s food credentials. Sven Elverfeld is a chef on the front line changing the global viewpoint of German cuisine. In Rosie Birkett article in The Independent, he is clearly frustrated with the perception. “Nobody speaks about Germany in culinary terms. If you ask people what is the famous dish in Germany they say sauerkraut. But there is so much more to our national cuisine.”
Viewpoints are slow to change. Of all the times I was on holiday in Germany, meat and cheese was served at breakfast, currywurst for lunch, and beer and sausages for dinner. The normal advertised food fare was wurst, potatoes and brew. Perhaps tourists expect traditional German cuisine, and therefore continue the perception that ALL German food is high fat, starch, and cake. This is not the whole story.
The Southwest region of Germany in which I will be living is known for its wine. It is also very close to France. I am curious as to how much influence French cuisine has on this area.
The article title “breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dine like a pauper” is an old adage which means larger meals are breakfast and lunch with dinner a snack-size.