The traditional comfort food, which consists of a pasta dough casing full of minced meat, spinach, egg, breadcrumbs, onions and spices – served fried with potato salad or in soup broth – can no longer be legally imitated according to EU regulations.
It joins the ranks of other German food specialties to earn protected EU status such as the Spreewalder cucumbers, Thüringer Rostbratwurst and Allgäuer Emmentaler cheese.
Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) includes agricultural products and foods closely linked to a geographical area. At least one stage of production, processing or preparation must take place in the area. In this case, the region of Swabia encompasses much of Baden-Württemberg and parts of Bavaria.
“No other Swabian dish is as popular and as well-known as a speciality way beyond the borders of Swabia,” the application for PGI status submitted by the state in January 2006 said. “Maultaschen are mentioned in Swabian literature and associated with a large number of festivals and customs in Swabia.”
Tradition says that medieval Cistercian monks at the Maulbronn Abbey invented the hearty dish to conceal the fact that they were eating meat during lent. The monks are said to have believed God would not see the meat because of the doughy casing.
Most butcher shops and restaurants in the region produce the Maultaschen according to varying family tradition.
The food recently made German headlines when a nursing home worker in Radolfzell, Baden-Württemberg was fired for taking a few leftover Maultaschen worth €3.35 from the facility cafeteria. The case is the most recent in a series of controversial firings for incidents involving low-value items that have been characterised as theft by employers.