The Delicious Truth behind German Cuisine

So as I have mentioned before, we have all been completely wrong about German food. Seriously. It’s good. Really good.

Don’t believe me? Let me take you through just one day of lecker German food in Cologne.

After climbing 509 steps up the cathedral and 509 steps down we felt we deserved a nice, hot meal at the brauhaus, don’t you agree? (More than 1000 steps in a day- who am I, Jane Fonda?)

After a hurried walk around town, we settled on Peters Brauhaus, a cozy, old-fashioned, and kind of adorable brauhaus. The first order of business was ordering Kölsch, Cologne’s local beer that is ever cold, frothy and golden.


My only complaint about Kölsch is that it is served in tiny, tiny glasses. What happened to the gigantic beer steins that I had to lift with two hands in Munich? Have they been banned since I was last in Germany?

Cologne Christmas Market

The second order of business was gobbling up a hot bowl of soup. We let the delightful Julika from Sateless Suitcase order for us and soon we had steaming bowls of Rheinische Kartoffelsuppe mit Speck, or Rhineland potato soup with speck.

Move over pancetta, speck is my new favorite pork belly product. When I tasted the soup I turned to Marina and said with a straight face, “This is the best soup I’ve ever had in my life.” I don’t remember her response because she had ordered the same thing and we were really past words.

German Food

After we sadly parted ways with the brauhaus, the next stop was the Heimat der Heinzel Market, which is a Christmas market that is supposed inhabited by magical gnomes.

The little house gnomes (Heinzelmännchen) are said to have done all the work of the citizens of Cologne during the night, so that the inhabitants of Cologne could be very lazy during the day. According to the legend, this went on until a tailor’s wife got so curious to see the gnomes that she scattered peas onto the floor of the workshop to make the gnomes slip and fall. The gnomes, being infuriated, disappeared and never returned. From that time on, the citizens of Cologne had to do all their work by themselves. – source

Cologne Christmas Market

As I quickly learned in Germany, the first stop at any Christmas market is the stand that sells hot alcohol; it’s essential to imbibe a hot mug of Glühwein while standing outside in the German winter.

Our hot beverage of the day was apfelpunsch, or apple punch. To accompany our rum-laden apfelpunsch we ordered baked Bosch apples stuffed with cinnamon granola and covered in strawberry jam and vanilla sauce.

Cologne Christmas Market

Why aren’t all apples stuffed with cinnamon granola?

Baked Apple

This really was an enchanted market; just look at the Travelocity gnomes hanging out on the roof!

Cologne Christmas Market

Cologne Christmas Market

On the way home I forced everyone to stop at we decided to visit a little Germany bakery with loaves upon loaves of dark, grainy, nut-studded bread. I enjoyed the sweet hazelnut bread, but the real stand-out was the smoky, earthy flavor, perfectly crusted walnut bread.

I didn’t even toast or butter it because I didn’t want to taste anything but its smoky walnut-y flavor. And I toast and butter everything.

German food

On a completely unrelated thought; I really regret not buying that gnome mug.

Cologne Christmas Market

But gnomes aside, I found Germany in December to be a very magical place. With lots of magical food as well.

 Do you enjoy German food? Am I alone here?

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About Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is a travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since college she has au paired in Paris, backpacked the world solo, and lived in Uganda. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and Glamour Magazine.

24 thoughts on “The Delicious Truth behind German Cuisine”

  1. It’s interesting because when I was in Germany I had a difficult time figuring out exactly what Germany cuisine really is – like what defines it. It’s still one of my favourite questions to ask when I meet German travelers because I find that I get a lot of different answers – it’s not as easy to categorize as like pizza and pasta in Italy, for example.

    • I truly don’t think I was in Germany long enough to definitely be able to say what German cuisine is all about (besides the dark, grainy breads, I do know it’s about that). All I can say is that it’s MUCH better than I thought!

  2. I LOVE German food. My best friend growing up is German (and my first trip abroad in early High school was to Germany) but the only place I have found that has good German food in the states is this restaurant in Nashville ( its a bit crazy as I have only been to Nashville twice, but both times I made sure to find this restaurant because the food was THAT good.

    Anyway, back to the original point…I love German food!

    • I will definitely bookmark that restaurant for future Nashville trips! And actually there’s a little German village in Michigan called Frankenmuth with really good old-school German food… I’ll have to pay it a visit at some point when I’m home!

  3. You are totally not alone in this, German food is awesome! My favourite is Weisswurst mit suessem Senf, from my favourite city Munchen :) And apfelstrudel, although I’m not sure that’s German or Austrian.. But it’s good anyway!

    • I have that sausage all the time in France- here it’s called boudin blanc (it’s very good might I had!). And I would love to try apfelstrudel, I’ve had it in the states but I’m sure it’s even better in Germany or Austria.

  4. I guess some people say they don’t like German food–perhaps the French?
    Your Great Grandfather Bill was a wonderful chef, and cooked German food
    for your Dad and the rest of the Fleck family. It was always delicious!! I loved the
    food when I visited the Fleckenstein relatives in Germany, and of course Bill Jr., your Grandfather, adored it!!!! Glad you love it too–part of your inheritance.

    • I really would have loved to have tried Papa Fleck’s German dishes, dad told me about the pork knuckles and sauerkraut he used to make. We should dig up the recipes sometime, our last name isn’t Fleckenstein for nothing :). Love, Ashley

  5. Yum! That soup looks amazing! A few years ago I went to a full-size German Christmas market that was constructed in Vancouver and I had that apple punch and stuffed apple … probably was more delicious in Germany but I certainly enjoyed it!

    • Really? I had kind of thought I had stumbled upon a much-beloved German staple. You do eat grainy breads though, right? (As in, not the processed white French bread I’m starting to get sick of? Ha).

  6. i love german food :) i always have. probably had something to do with the fact of living there as a kid…but i have always found a comfort in the german cuisine that i haven’t quite found in other ones. it probably is the fact that a gigantic beer is always necessary with any dish ;)

  7. Your comment about the tiny glasses made me laugh! You can find steins only in the south. Bavarians mock the Northern Germans for their “Micky Maus Bier” ;)

  8. It’s always funny to read outside opinions of German food:D I guess, we adopted a lot of italian, greek and turkish food and it makes everything a lot fresher! I don’t go much for the Brauhaus-food, cause my family comes from the North…our “fastfood” is Currywurst, Matjesbrötchen (Fish in a crunchy roll), Grilled chicken…
    My grandma cooks a lot of different dishes, sometimes Schnitzel, too, but mostly things that don’t put so much fat on your hips :D Most of these things are easy to cook:
    -any kind of veg-soups (e.g. with peas, lentils, carott, celery, herbs, tomato, coliflour)
    -Hühnerfrikasse mit Reis(Chickenstew with Rice)
    -Kartoffelsalat (Potatosalad)
    -Bratkartoffeln (baked potatoes)
    -anything else made of potatoes :D
    -Königsberger Klopse (!!!!!!!)
    -Schmorgurke (slowly cooked cucumber with sauce and potatoes)
    -Kohlrouladen (Cabbage-Roulades, stuffed with Hack and onions)
    -Rinderrouladen (Roulades made of meat, stuffed with cucumber, onions and Senf and Speck)
    -Salat mit Dickmilch (Salad with soured milk (add sugar))
    -Rote Grütze (Red berry sauce…goes with vanilla pudding)
    -Rhabarber-Kuchen (pie plant cake)
    -Marmalade (all the German Mums and Grandmas make it:)
    -Auflauf (pie?casserole?)
    -baked fish
    -smoked fish (awesome!), eat with bread and butter
    -Kartoffelpuffer (potato patties, eat with applesauce or cremecheese and ham)
    -gingerbread (only in winter)
    -stuffed pancake (make big, thin pancakes without sugar, stuff it with veg. and sauce and wrap them)
    -scrambled eggs with herbs and mashed potatoes and spinach
    -“heaven and earth”, mashed potaoes with speck and onions(earth) and applesauce (heaven), eat with salad

    • My stomach is grumbling already, I seriously love German food! Thanks for the list of dishes, I think I will try to make several of them (Kartoffelpuffer might have to be first :) )

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