Friday, 19 July 2013

Country in Review: Germany

Castle Neuschwanstein: Image via Flickr.

What are the top ten things that come to mind when you think of Germany? The rules of probability suggest that there will probably have been two of the same words in all of your lists.

Beer and sausages…

While these two words might seem reductionist, and a far cry from a well-rounded view of the country, there must be some truth around all of the fuss. So…. rather than try and quash the stereotypes – why not dig a little deeper, find out a bit more about what makes German beer and bratwurst so globally appreciated.

Image via flickr
So beer…

Germans, behind the brewery loving Czechs, consume the most beer than any other country in the world. Although there has been a slight decline in recent years, the Deutsche are still host to over 1,300 breweries and drink a staggering 110 litres a year per head. It is such a staple of the German diet that in Bavaria, beer is even considered a food. Because of the drink’s importance to German culture, it’s brewing and composition is treated as sacred and has been defended by the Reinheitsgebot “purity order” for centuries.

Oktoberfest beer hall: Image via wikimedia

While this law was adapted and made more flexible in 1993 with the introduction of the Provisional German beer law, it is still recognised as a global standard among connoisseurs. In fact, the world renowned festival, Oktoberfest (which confusingly occurs in September) only serves beer that adheres to the ancient Reinheitsgebot and that is brewed in Munich.

But it is not just about beer at Oktoberfest. If you find yourself a little bit peckish on your tour of the taverns there will be plenty of traditional fare to choose from. While you may be tempted by a pretzel or some Stöllen, if you want to get your teeth into some real German culture, then sausages are the way to go. 

Image via flickr

Sausages or wurst are iconic of Germany and have been a staple in the population’s diet since the Middle Ages. Because of this heritage, the choice is extensive, with over 1,200 types and endless regional varieties.  The most famous is probably the bratwurst - which can be made from veal, pork or beef and grilled, pan-fried or (you guessed it) poached in a broth of beer. While tucking into a bratwurst should always be on your foodie bucket list,  if you are lucky enough to be an expat in Germany, then it is always worth expanding your repertoire and tasting everything from weisswurst (a pale veal sausage) to landjäger (a German spiced salami meaning hunter’s sausage). Whatever you try though, go all out in embracing German cuisine and pile your plate with the traditional honey mustard and sauerkraut.

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