Cultured Palate: Dishes from Germany

Spätzle

A popular side dish that you’ll find in every traditional German restaurant is spätzle – a deliciously chewy noodle that’s made of egg, flour, and salt. The dough is easy enough to make at home, but the method of preparation is somewhat complicated.

The dough needs to be dropped into boiling water quickly, but the pieces can’t be too big. Several machines have been invented to facilitate this, the most modern of which look like a potato ricer and sit over a pot. Spätzle is frequently served with stew or a meat dish with gravy. In some places in Germany, spätzle is served with fruit and brown sugar for dessert.

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Spargel

Although it may seem like a lot of German food is centered around their love of meat, bread, and cheese, one vegetable that Germans go crazy for is spargel (asparagus). Most prized is the white asparagus that’s in season for a few weeks every spring. Massive farms dedicated to asparagus dot the small towns that make up the “Asparagus Route.”

For the very best asparagus, head to towns like Schwetzingen, Karlsruhe, or Rastatt any time between the end of April and the end of June. Traditionally, the delicate taste of white asparagus is so prized that it’s simply steamed and dressed with a bit of butter or hollandaise sauce.

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Sauerbraten

Sauerbraten is a dish that’s known for being best when your mother (or even better, grandmother) prepares it for you. It takes a lot of advanced prep, but the final product is worth it.

A large chunk of beef rump or sirloin tip is left to brine in vinegar and spices for up to four days. Then the meat is browned before being simmered in a Dutch oven for hours. The result is a succulent and completely tender roast, which is sliced and served in gravy with traditional sides like spätzle, red cabbage, or dumplings.

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