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The 10 heartiest German dishes to get you through winter

Winter is here, so it's time to stock up on carbohydrates for the cold months ahead (not that you don't already do the rest of the year).

The 10 heartiest German dishes to get you through winter
Käsespätzle. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/markusunger.

Luckily German cuisine is synonymous with heartiness. Here are ten of the best dishes the country has to offer when it's chilly and snowy out.

Grünkohl

Archive photo shows a woman eating Grünkohl the traditional way. Photo: DPA

Alternatively known as ‘Braunkohl,’  this dish is an integral aspect to traditional cuisine especially in northern Germany.

Made with kale (Grünkohl translates to ‘green kale’), potatoes and sausages or Kasseler (cured pork steak), the dish is heavy indeed – but oh-so-heart-warming!

Since kale in the country is harvested after the first frost of the year (which allows it to develop its unique, sweet yet somewhat bitter taste), restaurants will likely be serving this dish until at least February (even to-go in winter 2021). Added bonus: kale has one of the highest levels of vitamin C and folic acid compared to other winter vegetables.

Knödel

Knödel in mushroom sauce. Photo: DPA

Knödel are essentially boiled dumplings found across a slew of European countries, though Germany is one such nation they are said to originate from.

Made from mainly potatoes (bread or flour are typical additions), and known as Kloß in the north and west of Germany, the dumplings are often served as a side – though it’s not uncommon to see them served as a main course or in soups.

In Bavaria as well as in Austria Knödel are widely enjoyed as a dessert.

Sauerbraten

Archive photo shows a Frankfurt chef holding up Sauerbraten with the typical sides. Photo: DPA

Regarded as one of Germany’s national dishes, Sauerbraten is pretty much a German take on your typical pot roast. It can be prepared with a variety of meats but beef and horse meat are classic choices.

Sauerbraten isn’t called Sauerbraten for any old reason: the meat is marinated in vinegar, red wine, vegetables and herbs for up to ten days – thus making it exceptionally tender and juicy. Traditional side dishes include Rotkohl (red cabbage) and Knödel.

Eggs in a mustard sauce

 

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While it isn’t any surprise that meat is a dominant ingredient in German cuisine, there are vegetarians options that exist too.

In this simple dish, boiled eggs are served differently from the way Germans usually enjoy them at the weekends for breakfast. Instead, they come in a mustard sauce with an optional side of potatoes – especially popular among kids.

Kartoffelsuppe

 

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While Kartoffelsuppe (potato soup) can be found in countries the world over, there’s something special about the way the Germans do it.

Of course to serve it up German-style means that it no doubt needs to have meat in it. So if you make it yourself, after cooking the potatoes as well as various other desired vegetables such as carrots or celery, you’ll need to add chopped sausages to it.

Feeling daring? Garnish it with fried bacon bits.

Kohlroulade

In Germany Kohlroulade is typically made with Wirsing (savoy cabbage), a common ingredient in the country’s cuisine that’s especially popular when temperatures start to dip.

Savoy cabbage differs from regular cabbage in that its leaves are softer and curlier.

But don’t be fooled; German cabbage rolls aren’t vegetarian as they’re traditionally filled with ground meat and herbs. The dish is also baked or cooked in a broth and served with tomato sauce.

Käsespätzle

The German answer to mac and cheese, Käsespätzle is an ooey gooey dish.

Known as a quintessential Swabian comfort food that originates from the Baden-Württemberg region of Germany, this egg noodle dish is layered with shredded cheese such as Emmental and topped with crispy, caramelized onions.

If it sounds simple, it’s because it is; the main ingredients for the noodles are flour and eggs. It’s also tastier when made at home, according to some Germans – proof that delicious food doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive.

Goulash

 

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Popular in other parts of Europe, such as in Hungary where it originates from as well as in the Czech Republic, goulash is a stew of meat and vegetables seasoned with spices such as paprika.

Though it can be enjoyed all year round, there’s nothing like tucking into a deftig (hearty), steaming hot plate of goulash in the wintertime.

In Germany it’s common to make goulash not only with beef, but also with wild meat such as deer and wild boar. Rumour has it too that the German version differs from the Hungarian version in that potatoes are not included in the dish.

Reibekuchen

You've likely seen these at fairs throughout the Bundesrepublik all four seasons of the year as well as at Christmas markets during the holiday season.

But because they’re quite greasy, there’s something appropriate about indulging in them when it’s frosty out.

Essentially fried potato patties, Reibekuchen – also known as Reibeplätzchen – are served either sweet or savoury. While many choose to pair them with applesauce, others opt to dip them in herbed quark.

Store-bought grated potatoes are excellent for making these patties at home; when fried, they taste pretty much identical to what you can find at fairs.

Rinderrouladen

 

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A German dish oftentimes reserved for special occasions, Rinderrouladen is similar to Kohlroulade in that they're stuffed with ingredients. 

The dish is prepared by rolling thin slices of beef around bacon, mustard, pickles and onions – though mixtures differ from region to region. 

The rolls are then fried and after simmering long enough so that the flavours just blend together, it's time to dig in. Guten Appetit! 

LIVING IN GERMANY

REVEALED: The most commonly asked questions about Germans and Germany

Ever wondered what the world is asking about Germany and the Germans? We looked at Google’s most searched results to find out – and help clear some of these queries up.

Oktoberfest
Hasan Salihamidzic, the sports director of FC Bayern, arrives with his wife at Oktoberfest in full traditional dress. Photo: picture alliance/dpa |

According to popular searches, Germany is the go-to place for good coffee and bread (although only if you like the hard kind) and the place to avoid if what you’re looking for is good food, good internet connection and low taxes. Of course, this is subjective; some people will travel long stretches to get a fresh, hot pretzel or a juicy Bratwurst, while others will take a hard pass.

When it comes to the question on the bad Internet – there is some truth to this. Germany is known for being behind other rich nations when it comes to connectivity. And from personal experience, the internet connection can seem a little medieval. The incoming German coalition government has, however, vowed to improve internet connectivity as part of their plans to modernise the country.

There are also frequent questions on learning the German language, and people pointing out that it is hard and complicated. This is probably due to the long compound words and its extensive grammar rules, however, as both English and German are Germanic languages with similar words in common, it’s not impossible to learn as an English-speaker.

Here’s a look at some of those questions…

Why is German called Deutsch? Whereas ‘German’ comes from the Latin, ‘Deutsch’ instead derives itself from the Indo-European root “þeudō”, meaning “people”. This slowly became “Deutsch” as we know it today. It can be a bit confusing to English-speakers, who are right to think it sounds a little more like “Dutch”, however the two languages do have the same roots which may explain it.

And why is Germany so boring? Again, probably a generalisation, especially given that Germany has a landmass of over 350,000 km² with areas ranging from high rise, industrial cities to traditional old town villages and even mountain ranges, so you’re sure to find a place that doesn’t bore you to tears.

Perhaps it is a question that comes from the stereotype that Germans are obsessed with being strict about rules, organised and analytical. Or that they have no sense of humour – all of these things being not the most exciting traits. 

Either way, from my experience I can confirm that, even though there is truth to German society enjoying order and rules, the vast majority of people are not boring, and I’m sure if you come to Germany you’ll meet many interesting, funny and exciting people. 

READ ALSO: 12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Germany

When it comes to the German weather, most people assume a cold and cloudy climate, however this isn’t entirely true. While the autumn and winter, especially in the north, come with grey skies and sub-zero temperatures, Germany can have some beautiful summers, with temperatures frequently rising above 30C in some places.

Unsurprisingly, the power and wealth of the German nation is mentioned – Germany is the largest economy in Europe after all, with a GDP of 3.8 trillion dollars. This could be due to strong industry sectors in the country, including vehicle constructions (I was a little surprised to find no questions posed on German cars), chemical and electrical industry and engineering. There are also many strong economic cities in Germany, most notably Munich, Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg.

READ ALSO: Eight unique words and phrases that tell us something about Germany

Smart and tall?

Why are Germans so tall? They are indeed taller than many other nations, with the average German measuring a good 172.87cm (or 5 feet 8.06 inches), however this may be a question better posed to the Dutch, who make up the tallest people in the world.

Why are Germans so smart? While this is again a generalisation – as individuals have different levels of intelligence in all countries – this question may stem from Germany’s free higher education system or their seemingly efficient work ethic. Plus there does seem to be some scientific research behind this question, with a study done in 2006 finding that Germans had the highest IQ in Europe.

So, while many of the questions posed about Germany and Germans on Google stem from stereotypes, we can confirm that some aren’t entirely made up. If you’re looking to debunk some frequently asked questions about France and the French, check out this article by our sister site HERE.

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