• Germany edition
 
Germany's holiday food favourites
Yum? Photo: DPA

Germany's holiday food favourites

Published: 24 Dec 2012 07:44 GMT+01:00
Updated: 24 Dec 2012 07:44 GMT+01:00

Germany has a rich and varied culinary Christmas tradition, as well as a huge selection of festive foods which makes coming up with a definitive list a tricky task. But here, plucked from typical German Christmas fare, are the essential tastes you are likely to encounter.

Glühwein - mulled wine

Let’s start with a boozy ice breaker. Glühwein is the German version of mulled wine known and enjoyed the world over. But there is more to it than meets the mouth at a typical Christmas market stand in mid-December. The ingredients range from from cinnamon sticks and vanilla pods to cloves and citrus, but the German version is frequently blended with rum or brandy and therefore known as a great way to encourage mingling among party guests – or simply to take the edge off German family gatherings over the holidays. Ever the masters of the literal, the translation of the German word “glowing wine” will add some colour to your cheeks.

Eierlikör – egg liqueur

This strong and thick egg liqueur is a far cry from creamy American eggnog that is spiked with abandon during the holidays. The German beverage is a blend of egg yolks, varied spirits, sugar, brandy, vanilla and sometimes cream. It might well be an old acquaintance you've met under the name “Advocaat.” Traditionally served in a wide glass with whipped cream and cocoa powder sprinkled on top, your hosts might serve it as an aperitif, digestive or simply pour it over the dessert – the Germans use it for just about everything. It's rich, but worth knocking back, especially if you can get your hands on the homemade stuff.

Grünkohl – kale

Held in high regard across the country, kale is likely to accompany whatever slab of Christmas meat is put on the table. It's minced and cooked in stock with cream, spices and random meat or sausages for a few days. Even though it might sound odd, a whole culture has formed around these healthy greens across the country. You’ll find that everyone has their own secret spice mix to make their kale stew a speciality. Just ask any Oma and she'll swear that the process of reheating the kale gives it its characteristic flavour and texture.

Knacker – bangers

Those who have turned their nose up at Grünkohl might find this dish more appealing. In some parts of Germany the traditional Christmas Eve victuals are just basic sausages and potato salad. This all-time German favourite can be enjoyed with a variety of sausages such as Wiener, Bockwurst, or Knacker, which are a smoked, raw sausage a bit like raw bangers.

Karpfen – carp

If your hosts dish up a big fish it is very likely to be carp. Don’t be reserved when it comes to this downmarket fish. While carp is viewed unfavourably in America, its firm, low-fat meat is valued in Germany. The flavour is usually mild, but some people insist that the farm raised variety can have a “muddy” taste. However, carp can often be reminiscent of tasty catfish too.

Gänsebraten – roast goose

You can’t live without roasted poultry on Christmas? Well, Germans like their holiday bird too. Traditionally eaten with dumplings, red cabbage and the aforementioned kale stew, roast goose might even be the most popular holiday dish in Germany. One benefit is that you avoid the dreaded “dry-turkey” because high-fat goose stays juicy.

Lebkuchen – German gingerbread

Don’t fear if you thought the rock hard Lebkuchen Herzen (gingerbread hearts) inscribed with icing were inedible when visiting the Oktoberfest this year. The Christmas version of this traditional spicy-sweet gingerbread cake is somewhat soft and comes in every shape and taste your heart desires. It is also known as Pfefferkuchen (pepper cake) or Honigkuchen (honey cake), depending on the ingredients.

Spekulatius - spicy shortbread

This is a spicy Christmas cookie. The biscuit is very thin, crunchy, slightly browned and usually has an image or figure stamped on the front before baking. The bottom of the cookie is flat. Imagine a slimmed down, spiced up version of shortcake that is the perfect companion to coffee.

Stollen – fruit cake

This stodgy fruit cake might look familiar when served up, but this version is much tastier and more delicate than the North American version. The dense, yeasty dough appears solid enough to brick a house, but is actually quite low in sugar. Stollen contain all sorts of Christmas goodies such as marzipan, almonds, dried fruit, and butter - topped off with a thick powdered sugar coating. Even though small Stollen are available these days, the traditional weight used to be a whopping two kilos!

Baumkuchen – tree cake

This cake is a real highlight. Baumkuchen literally translates to “tree cake” because of the characteristic golden layers that are baked separately to resemble the rings of a tree trunk when cut in half. To get the ring effect, a very thin layer of batter is brushed evenly onto a spit and allowed to bake on an open flame until golden brown. The whole procedure is repeated numerous times until the so called “king of cakes” reaches its desired heft. Available the whole year round, it is still mostly eaten during the holiday season in Germany.

Marzipankartoffeln – marzipan potatoes

You might have noticed already that the German sweet tooth loves marzipan, but Marzipan Kartoffeln are the real deal. They're just what their name suggests, potato shaped lumps of marzipan dusted with cocoa and cinnamon for that freshly harvested spud look. These sugary little 'taters can only be found in the shops during the holiday season and can work as a nice pick-me-up after a boozy evening. If that doesn’t work, start from the top of our list again and see if another cup of Glühwein does the trick...

Click here traditional German recipes.

Kerstin von Glowacki (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

21:04 December 21, 2009 by Henckel
Sounds good. I wish I could get some of these specialties here in the USA. I will, though, be able to have imported herring fillets in Dijon mustard sauce from Germany -- a special favorite of mine.
16:39 December 22, 2009 by lordwilliams629
I like fish I even eat sushi, but that looks nasty.
23:07 December 25, 2009 by wxman
I was with you till we got to the carp, which I suppose is the fish in the photo with bacon and mushrooms. It's been four generations. I think my DNA has moved on. Looks disgusting. Let's go back to the Glühwein and Knacker, shall we?
16:14 December 29, 2009 by DoubleDTown
Stollen: the traditional weight is STILL 2 kg. Why? because the "end" pieces are looked down upon and you get more in the middle with a bigger 'loaf'. Typical Dresden price this year: EUR 22 for a 2kg Stollen, or EUR 16 for a 1.5 kg.

see http://www.baeckerei-wippler.de/englisch/bestellung/index.html
13:22 December 31, 2009 by philfire
"imported herring fillets in Dijon mustard sauce from Germany"

You've never been to Dijon then?

;)
12:27 December 24, 2012 by Englishted
@ philfire

He has ,but the herrings get car sick :-)
15:38 December 24, 2012 by heathen
Had that nasty fish dish the first time I was here in the '80s...as I said then as I say now: "Barf me out, gag me with a spoon, grody to the max!" (well at least my sister did, she was a valgal wannabe)
22:08 December 24, 2012 by DOZ
Baked 2 Large Yeast Stollen, 1 Large non-yeast (my fav), and 4 dozen Lebkuchen (1st try- sucked)
15:28 December 25, 2012 by Big L
I am currently visiting Germany (I am from South Africa) and I must say the food here is excellent! So far my favourites are Schweinhaxe, Maultaschen, Curry wurst with pommes, Schupfnudel, and Wurst with Katoffelsalat. The variety of bread is overwhelming and super but the real German Zopf is irresistable. I am not a Beer fundi but I enjoy Warsteiner, Krombacher and Stuttgarter much.

What a pity the weather is so bad here! (LOL).
Today's headlines
Foreigner toll to hit motorways only
Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt. Photo: DPA

Foreigner toll to hit motorways only

Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt plans to limit his road toll for foreigners initially to motorways only, Spiegel reported on Sunday. READ  

Criminals blow Berlin Sparkasse wide open
The damaged bank branch. Photo: DPA

Criminals blow Berlin Sparkasse wide open

Criminals robbed a Berliner Sparkasse bank branch early on Sunday morning - using a bomb. READ  

French retread path to Berlin finance ministry
French Economy and Finance Ministers Emmanuel Macron (l) and Michel Sapin. Photo: DPA

French retread path to Berlin finance ministry

French and German ministers are due to meet on Monday to discuss ways of boosting growth in Europe's two biggest economies, as Paris called on Berlin to step up investment. READ  

Lufthansa pilots to strike for 35 hours
Grounded. Photo: DPA

Lufthansa pilots to strike for 35 hours

Pilots' union Cockpit has called a new 35-hour walkout at Lufthansa starting Monday, hours after a weekend-long rail strike finished. READ  

German dies after trying to take ravine photos
Photo: File photo/Shutterstock

German dies after trying to take ravine photos

A German student has died after falling into a steep ravine at a waterfall on a popular Malaysian resort island, police said on Sunday. READ  

Academic makes Twitter splash saying 'Nein'
File photo. DPA

Academic makes Twitter splash saying 'Nein'

Former Ivy League professor of German Eric Jarosinski has become a Twitter phenomenon developing a huge social media following thanks in no small part to saying no in German. READ  

Klopp slams Dortmund as slump continues
Jurgen Klopp looks downcast as Borussia Dortmund suffer another defeat. Photo: DPA

Klopp slams Dortmund as slump continues

Jurgen Klopp slammed his Borussia Dortmund side after Saturday's 2-1 defeat at Cologne made it five Bundesliga games without a win ahead of Wednesday's Champions League clash at Galatasaray. READ  

Michael Müller will be Berlin's next mayor
Michael Müller. Photo: DPA

Michael Müller will be Berlin's next mayor

Berlin’s development senator, who led the controversial project to develop Tempelhof Airport, will be the capital’s next mayor. Michael Müller won almost 60 percent of the vote among members of the ruling Social Democratic Party (SPD) on Saturday. READ  

Train Strike
Rail strike cripples Germany's train lines
Passengers wait for buses outside Erfurt station on Saturday morning. Photo: DPA

Rail strike cripples Germany's train lines

Rail travellers on Saturday faced huge delays and disruptions on one of autumn's busiest travel weekends as the train drivers' union began a 50-hour strike. READ  

Freed hostages back at German embassy
Stefan Viktor Okonek and Henrike Dielen are welcomed by German Embassy officials upon their arrival at Villamor Airbase in Pasay city, south of Manila, the Philippines. Photo: DPA

Freed hostages back at German embassy

Two Germans kidnapped by Islamic militants in the Philippines are safely back at their Manila embassy, officials said on Saturday after a harrowing six-month ordeal in which they endured threats of beheading and seemingly routine cruelty. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Travel
This is the man who has stopped Germany's trains
Photo: Shutterstock
Business & Money
Expats: Should I stay or should I go?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
PHOTOS: World's biggest erotic fair opens in Berlin
Photo: Screenshot
National
German jihadist threatens 'filthy' Merkel
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
11 things Germans are afraid of...
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
Time to loosen the purse strings?
Photo: Shutterstock
Business & Money
Which expat foods do you miss the most?
Sponsored Article
International School on the Rhine: a legacy
Photo: Shutterstock
Business & Money
How to get hired at a Berlin startup
Photo: DPA
Berlin
Ebola 'prankster' shuts down Berlin bar
Photo: DPA
Features
215 countries, 26 years and one engine
Photo: DPA
Society
Leipzig 25 years ago: 'We were scared of being shot'
Photo: DPA
Gallery
What do other countries warn about Germany?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The ten richest people in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,422
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd