The Novice Nosher Goes to Germany

6 May

I can say with confidence that I’m a seasoned traveller, blessed with time and ability by the good graces of God and bit of funding from The Bank of Mom and Dad. I’ve been lucky with several opportunities to travel abroad almost every year since 2003. I suppose I was due an overseas trip this year, so when my family and I received the invitation for my half-German cousin’s wedding in May, I jumped on the opportunity to secure the time off and prep for Munich.

With any wedding celebration comes food, and this being a sort of holiday-and-wedding-in-one, I happily spent non-celebratory hours chowing on German cuisine. Through eating and meeting Germans, this is what I learned about German (particularly Bavarian) food culture:

1) Germans like meat. Lots of it. I ate beef goulash, beef goulash soup, venison, venison ravioli, pork, wienerschnitzel (which is NOT, as I once believed, a type of hot dog), and slices of ham and salami.

Pork shoulder with a giant dumpling

2) Germans love pastries, and they are just as good as making them as the French are. No, you won’t find dainty macarons in Bavaria, or little madeleines, but who cares when you’ve got layers of cream and cake and German chocolate in your mouth?

3) Germans snack on pastries and coffee or tea much like the British have afternoon tea. At my cousin’s wedding reception, we had about 2-3 hours to chow on pastries and drink mimosas or coffee, before sitting down for dinner at around 6:30 p.m. Dessert before dinner?!? Yes, please. And on top of that, there was wedding cake and little desserts after the 3-course dinner service. NOM. A new German friend of mine said that it’s standard to take time out in the afternoon on any day to have coffee and pastries, special occasion or not.

4) Nutella is as common a condiment as salt and pepper. So many Europeans I met awhile abroad asked if I’d ever had Nutella. Um, YES. I think most Americans have heard of it by now and I honestly believe Nutella is proof that there is a God. My new European friends all said that, even if they’re dirt broke, if you looked into any European’s kitchen you’d find a jar of Nutella. One young Frenchwoman I met on the plane ride home said she used to go through 1 large jar a week. (And yet she was still slim. Ladies and gents, there’s your secret to the European diet.)

5) Germans can eat and drink like Americans. Or maybe that’s just my family. I turned into a gastronomic monster there, drinking like a fish and eating like a pig. It was AWESOME.

Venison ravioli with a creamy mushroom sauce, berry puree and orange slice

I’m kicking myself for not taking enough food photos on this trip (and for leaving my DSLR at home). But maybe my words are just enough of a taste for you to want to make a trip of your own. Trust me, the food alone is worth it.

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