Monday, February 23, 2015

Foodie Favorites: German Dishes

One of the best parts of studying abroad was trying all of the local authentic food wherever I went. I've been an adventurous eater ever since my dad gave me oysters and alligator tail as a little girl, so I don't shy away from any type of food. My motto is that I'll try everything at least once, just for the experience. I have quite an appreciation for good-tasting cuisine.

Since I studied in Berlin, most of the food I ate while abroad came from Germany. German food is flavorful and hearty, but also fattening and heavy. The Germans love bratwurst, bread, and loads of potatoes. I always felt full and content after a meat-and-potato-filled meal. Now that I'm back at college, I find myself craving some of my favorite German foods. Here's an overview the five dishes I miss the most.

Döner Kebab
Döner kebab is actually a Turkish dish brought to Germany by immigrants. Today, it's one of the most popular street foods in Berlin, with food carts selling döner kebab on practically every block. In the carts, a hunk of lamb or chicken meat hangs on a vertical stick that constantly turns. The chef thinnly shaves some of the meat into a toasted pita and usually tops it with grilled vegetables (tomato, onion, cucumber), yogurt sauce, and hot sauce. 

Many people in my study abroad program didn't like döner kebab, but I'm personally a big fan. The combination of warm meat, toasted bread, and cold sauces was mouth watering. Döner was especially nice as a midnight snack. My friends and I actually went to the most popular döner stand in Berlin, Mustafa's, which typically has an hour wait. The weather was crummy on the night we went to Mustafa's, so we only waited 20 minutes! I can't explain why, but the döner at Mustafa's is really the best in Berlin. I'm thinking the welcome addition of feta cheese has something to do with it. 

Currywurst is a Berlin specialty, served in restaurants and food trucks alike. To make currywurst, bratwurst is cut into bite-size pieces and covered with curry sauce, which is just ketchup mixed with curry powder. Currywurst is usually served with Pommes Frite (french fries) with dollops of normal ketchup and mayo. Mayonnaise on french fries sounds gross, but German mayo is more creamy and flavorful than American mayo. When I was abroad, a restaurant near my school sold the currywust and french fries pictured above for $4. Needless to say, I ate currywurst way more than I'd like to admit.

Bakery Sandwiches

Out of all of the food mentioned here, I miss German bakery items the most. Crisp, fresh bread and sugary pastries line the shelves, and pre-made sandwiches are filled with the freshest cheese and lunch meat. No wonder bakeries are such popular lunchtime destinations in Germany. My personal favorite bakery sandwich was tomato-mozarella-lettuce-pesto on a hard seeded roll from my local Back Werk. The high quality ingredients and crunchy bread kept me coming back at least once a week.

Hard Pretzels

Germans are rightfully known for their salty pretzels. The best pretzel I had was in Munich during Oktoberfest. The outside was buttery and crunchy, but the inside was warm and soft. My friends and I split five or six huge pretzels throughout our day at Oktoberfest... beer and pretzels are the perfect carb-filled combination.

Wiener Schnitzel
A post about German food wouldn't be complete without mentioning wiener schnitzel. To make this savory dish, a large piece of veal is pounded, breaded, and fried to perfection. I prefer the "Jagerschnitzel" version, where the veal is covered with a creamy mushroom sauce. In typical German fashion, schnitzel almost always comes with a side of potatoes. The schnitzel I had at the Haus der 100 Biere (House of 100 Beers) in Berlin, pictured above, was the best I had while abroad.