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A quick guide to German food for expats

Germany is known for some of the most amazing traditional food around the world. It is also a country that is full of rich culinary traditions which many have found their way to the rest of the world. What many don’t know is that German cuisine is so much more than just sausage or meat. Depending on where you are in Germany you will find a big variety of traditional comfort food. The area around Hamburg is known for fresh fish dishes whereas in the South they are best known for all types of delicious foods made from pork. As there are too many good foods in Germany we have really struggled to whittle it down to just five, but we stand by our choices.


You can find these everywhere in Germany from classy restaurants to street food vendors. Schnitzel is essentially meat flattened and then covered with flour, beaten eggs and breadcrumbs which is then fried in oil or a lot of butter until it turns a golden crisp on the outside. It is typically veal, however it can be made with any meat and there are also different ways on how to prepare it from chicken breast to blocks of cheese.


For a country that is big on their meat, one of the most famous German dishes is Spätzle; which is completely vegetarian. Spätzle is a type of pasta, but the dough only consists of eggs, flour, salt and a hint of fizzy water, which makes the dough light and fluffy. Spätzle, is traditionally served as a side dish to meaty dishes like Schnitzel, however it can also be served as a main dish. The most popular way of preparing Spätzle is to top with a huge amount of Emmentaler cheese, as cheese instantly makes every dish better.


No matter what part of Germany you move to or visit, you will encounter Bratwurst, a sausage typically made from beef, pork or even veal. The earliest documented evidence of Bratwurst which today has an estimated 40 regional varieties, dates right back to the 14th Century in Nuremberg. It is generally grilled and is often served as a snack with a Brötchen, which is a bread roll. The most famous Bratwurst is for sure the short and thin ones, which come from Nuremberg, and these are even better when complemented with ketchup or mustard, depending on your preferences.


For those who have a sweet tooth then traditional Stollen might be exactly what you are looking for. It is generally eaten around Christmas time, and is a bread made with dried or candied fruit, marzipan, nuts like almonds, and spices like cinnamon and cardamom. It is usually topped with powdered sugar too. The most famous Stollen originates in the city of Dresden, where the annual Stollenfest is held. This festival takes place on the second Saturday in December; and the city’s Stollen measures 3 to 4 tons!


While many people around the world will associate dishes such as Bretzel with Germany and Oktoberfest, one of the more common dishes is Kartoffelpuffer, also known as Reibekuchen. Potatoes are one of the most common ingredients found in German food and dishes, so Reibekuchen is definitely a dish that you should try. Reibekuchen/kartoffelpuffer are shallow pan-fried pancakes made from grated or ground potatoes and mixed with flour, onion, eggs and seasoning, and most commonly served with an apple puree.

Want to learn more about Germany? Visit our moving to Germany destination guide page.

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