Expat guide to the best foods you should try in Germany

Schweinshaxe, roasted ham hock
Germany is a land crowned with culinary delights. This country has benefited from close associations with France and Italy and adopted a wide array of their cooking methods and spices. The regional cuisines vary depending on the geography and the proximity to waterways where trade and transportation take place. From early times, preservation of foodstuffs is often done through salting, curing, smoking, or pickling. This is a common way of preparing meats, fish, and vegetables. 

What are the oldest German foods?
Unlike the Mediterranean countries, the growing seasons of Germany limited the cuisines to early forms of barley, wheat, and pasture land for livestock. Cows, sheep and goats were often used for milk, cheese and butter. Occasionally, meat products were served at feasts. The earlier spices included celery, parsley, and dill which are still common today. The Romans introduced grapevines and fruit tree cultivation. Rye and oats also found their way into cultivation as agriculture became more sophisticated. 

Today, the Germans still fall back to their earlier rich heritage, serving lamb, wild game, beef and pork using the old and new ways of preparing them along with the side dishes. The popular spices today include horseradish, juniper berries, and mustard that are all found in the Luneburger Heath. Dishes in this region have strong traditional roots. Germans are naturally adventurous. This side of nature has dramatically advanced their culinary life in the past 50 years. In fact, in Europe, the German cuisine has the highest range of food varieties.

In Germany, there have been over seven million foreigners, and all have made various contributions to the cuisine development. Practically, every cuisine here is represented. There is the African and the Turkish, Asian and Mediterranean, Chinese, Thai, Greek, Vietnamese, Indian, Italian, Moroccan and Spanish. The other contribution came from the organic movement. This is what encouraged the Germans to grow their own food. In Germany, you find organic food almost everywhere. 

Eating Habits in Germany
Breakfast (Frühstück)
A typical breakfast in Germany comprises of warm beverages like tea or coffee or cocoa, bread rolls, bread (brot) accompanied by various toppings like (margarine, butter, marmalade, quark, kase, wurst), and various spreads.
Boiled eggs, cereals, muesli, nuts, and a glass of juice are also common. Today, there is a growing trend towards eating a simple breakfast.

If you are an expat, expect to see people eat cereals instead of a hearty meal, sausages, bread, and cheese. But, there is also traditional breakfast that consists of fresh bread often accompanied by a meat selection or cheese. This is more common during the weekends.

Lunch (Mittagessen)
Traditionally, the main meal is served during the day between 12 and 2 PM. A typical meal at this time may consist of potato salad with meatballs or sausage (Kartoffelsalat mit Würstchen oder Frikadellen), fish sticks with mashed potatoes (Fischstabchen mit kartoffelpuree), spätzle noodles with stir-fry (Spätzle mit Geschetzeltem) or schnitzel with buttered vegetables (Schnitzel mit Buttergemuse).

Usually, meat is served daily, particularly pork and chicken. Typical vegetables served are carrots (mohren), green beans (grune bohnen), cabbage (kohl), and peas (erbsen). Potatoes is also a dish you will not miss as they come in the form of mashed potatoes (kartoffelpuree), fried potatoes (bratkartoffel), french fries (pommes fFrites), croquettes (krokette), dumplings (Knodel), or boiled (salzkartoffel).

Dinner (Abendbrot) 
Evening meals in Germany are light and eaten between six and seven P.M. Typical dinner consists of cheeses, a selection of whole grain bread, sausages, deli meats, mustard and pickles. It is usually accompanied by soup/salad depending on the season. 

Eating Habits - What you should know
In a hotel, unless it is fancy, do not wait to be seated. Find a free table.
Unless you ask for an ice cube, don't wait for one in your soda.
No free refills on drinks.
The basket of bread you find at your table costs extra.

The three popular dishes you must try
Schweinshaxe (roasted ham hock). It is traditionally served with sauerkraut, potatoes, and vegetables. You can also be served with the best local beer.
Labscaus with fresh fruit like kiwifruit or strawberries and may be topped with whipped cream.

  • Sauerbraten is a beef pot roast marinated in vinegar, water, spices and seasonings.

    Berliner KrapfenPopular beverages
    German Coffee

    Popular desserts
Cake like biscuits similar to gingerbread.

Berliner -
Similar to a doughnut, but without the hole.

Popular wines

Popular snacks
These are often eaten
between main meals. As the children enjoy pausenbrot, the adults also keep their energies up between main meals with snacks. A zwischenmahlzeit is the snack the adults enjoy.Other sweet and salty snacks include Spritzkuchen, Bavarian Pretzel, Currywurst, Russisch Brot, Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte and Schoko Strolche

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Let us know what is your favorite dish from Germany.