"What are traditional German foods?" I'm often asked. "Are they prepared differently than other cultures?"
Below, in the left column, you'll see my Mutti's favourite recipes -- purely traditionally German!
Below, let me share with you how my son, Rich, has worked at recreating the German-style food he grew up with.
Here's an excerpt from his email (from half way around the world) as he describes how he made his first real German meal abroad.
You can check out his story on Rich's Meals. As you do, you'll realize that he captured the heart of the girl whose Mom he made this meal for.
The dinner went very well - which wouldn't have been possible without your recipes :) The soup was by far the most nostalgic of all. Brought me back to many a childhood dinner. Between the four of us, we finished nearly all the soup (as per your quantities) as a starter in addition to a full schnitzel main course.
I'll give you a little rundown of a few slight additions/alterations I made on the fly. Although, I must admit, the kitchen smelled just like I remembered :)
I made the potato salad first so I could use the cooking water as the potato soup
stock. For extra flavour, I put in 6-8 little sprigs of fresh parsley
into the water while boiling the potatoes for the salad. This was more
to enhance the water later for the soup.
I couldn't find any smoked sausage, so using your hints I fried up an extra tenderloin (chopped up) instead. Plus, I fried up all the fat I cut from the others then added it to the soup while it reduced. Taking it out afterward, but it seemed to give a little more kick as I didn't use much meat to begin with.
Other than that, I followed the potato salad/soup recipes to the "t" and they came out exactly as I remembered.
I free-styled a bit with the main part of the dinner. Mixing in chopped up parsley and thyme into the breadcrumbs for the pork coating. As well as pounding the pork 1-cm thin (rouladen style) so it would fry faster without losing too much juice.
For veggies, I laid out a layer of asparagus and carrots with a thin coating of garlic & herb cheese spread, olive oil and breadcrumbs. I did three layers like this so everything would be coated. Baked at 400° F. for 12-15 minutes. Then topped lightly with a chopped plum tomato and red wine vinegar dressing for the last few minutes.
Oh, and I found a ridiculously quick and easy apple sauce recipe for the schnitzel. Two apples cut into 1 cm. cubes, tossed into a small pot with 3 tbs. butter and 3 tbs. brown sugar. Personally, given the sugar quantity already in the apples, I'd probably scale back the brown sugar to 2 tbs. as it was a touch sweet. After simmering for 5-7 minutes the apples should be soft enough to lightly mash into a slight chunky sauce (or however to your liking). I let it simmer for quite a while past the suggested time (maybe 10-15 mins total) as it reduced further into a very flavourful sauce.
In everything I followed your traditional German foods recipes step-by-step and wasn't disappointed in the least. While individually very quick, and as a whole taking a bit of time, it was quite a worthwhile effort - definitely worth it.
The only food that had anything left over was the potato salad. Not that I mind at all :) But in fairness, it does yield quite a few servings. Placing the soup before the rest helped to spread out the servings nicely.
All-in-all, as someone who has never cooked a full proper dinner . . . let alone for a family . . . let alone for a girlfriend's family . . . on her mother's birthday no less . . . it was an extremely satisfying success. Which made it more of a present as it's something that's very special and nostalgic for me to share. They all fully enjoyed it and made for a nice experience.
From Germany, to Canada, and almost all the way back again.
I wish I could have been there for Rich as he cooked his first traditional German foods. When he comes home for a visit, I know who's going to do the cooking!
* * * * *
Want nutritional information for a recipe? Copy and paste the ingredient list and the number of servings into Calorie Count. It will give you an approximate calculation.