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 North Rhine-Westphalia ~ Regional Food

Map of Germany showing North Rhine­Westphalia

North Rhine-Westphalia, Nordrhein-Westfalen, was created in 1946 by bringing together parts of the Prussian provinces: Rhine and Westphalia.

This fourth largest German state is now the most populous of all the 16 German states. Filled with universities, museums, concert halls, and theaters, North Rhine-Westphalia is a cultural treasure.

This is the place to be really active. With over 14,000 km. of cycling routes, 1,500 km. of rivers (including the Rhine and the Ruhr), 200 lakes and 78 reservoirs for water sports, and two of the largest city-center shopping malls in Europe, one really needs the spas, thermal baths, and health resorts (that are also numerous) to relax.

Nestled in its geography are many well-known cities, such as

  • Cologne with its Kölner Dom cathedral and 4711 (my favorite perfume)
  • Dortmund with its famous football team
  • Solingen aka "City of Blades" renowned for the manufacturing of fine swords, scissors and knives (

The merging of the two provinces also provided an interesting culinary mix. The Westphalians liked hearty foods and the Rhinelanders liked sweet and sour combinations.

The result?

A wonderful mix of dishes that are traditional in this area. For example, sauerbraten, that traditional German beef dish, in this part of Germany uses raisins and lebkuchen (gingersnaps) to sweeten the gravy for that sweet-sour taste.

North Rhine-Westphalia's Favorite Foods

  • Fava Beans (Dicke Bohnen), cauliflower, asparagus, potatoes, cabbage, parsnips, sugar beets, leeks, salsifies
  • Lettuce, chicory, lamb's lettuce, kohlrabi, carrots. Strawberries, apples, pears, sweet cherries.
  • Fish dishes, egg dishes, game (boars, deer, wild birds) dishes
  • Famous Westphalian Ham
  • Pumpernickel bread (steam-baked about 16 hours to get the sugars to caramelize giving the bread its sweet taste and dark color)
  • Burg Pretzels, potato pancakes
  • Waffles and Aachener Printen gingerbread-type cookies engraved with pictures - a copyrighted cookie!

My Favorite Recipe from North Rhine-Westphalia

Oma's Reibekuchen (Potato Pancakes)

One of the most delicious treats to enjoy, either sweet or savory, are potato pancakes. To make them extra easy, I've a quick version of the traditional recipe at Kartoffelpuffer. Although nothing quite beats the "grating-by-hand" texture, using the blender makes for quicker and easier preparation of the potatoes.


More Recipes from North Rhine-Westphalia ...


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Try some regional German food for your next dinner party! Spread your culture and enjoy learning about some other areas of German cooking.

Germany is divided into 16 federal states in Germany, each one unique in its history and cuisine.

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