Monday, January 02, 2006

In Praise of German Food

I was doing a search the other day for blogs about German food. Couldn’t find any. I’m sure they’re out there; I just couldn’t find any. So I’ll write about German food and post a bunch of recipes. Why German food? It’s a long story, but I’ll try to make it short. When I was a teenager, Dad was stationed at Ramstein Air Base. I remember the pommes frites. (Wait, that’s French! But that’s what they called them.) My sister learned to eat hers with mayonnaise, like the Belgians. Then when I was in the Air Force, my one and only assignment was Rhein-Main Air Base, up near Frankfurt. I lived “on the economy,” and made a point of shopping in the local stores. My favorite was the Globus in Darmstadt. I then met, fell in love with, and married a man (DH) who was born in Augsburg. His father was U.S. Army, and his mother was German. He lived in Augsburg and Garmisch as a kid, and was stationed at Ramstein when I was in junior high (no, he’s not that much older than me, just 8 years). After we were married, we lived in a town called Walldorf, and our landlord’s wife, Frau Zwillig, taught me to make Kartoffelsalat. DH said it was very much like his mother’s. It’s not at all like what you get in recipe books–that one’s sweet and has bacon in it. The one Frau Zwillig taught me has only potatoes, onion, vinegar, oil, egg, salt, and white pepper. That’s it. We began to try some of the local restaurants, though I only remember the one on the top of the tower in downtown Frankfurt.

After we were married about 5 years, and were living here in southern California, DH got orders for Zweibrücken Air Base. It’s south of Ramstein, close to the French border. It didn’t take much to decide to accept those orders and go back to Germany. This is when we started going to the local restaurants as often as we could. We must have tried 20 or 30 different ones, and loved them all.

Once we returned to the States, we started missing German food. I began experimenting and researching, and have accumulated what I feel is a pretty decent repertoire of German recipes. I’m blessed that only two blocks from my office is George’s Market, a German market with almost everything I need. He has canned and boxed foods, noodles, wines, beer, dessert mixes, seasonings, fresh meats, luncheon meats (like blütwurst, or blood sausage, souse, which is chunks of meat in a gelatin, and leberkäse), salad dressings, candies, breads and pastries. I try to be a authentic as I can, especially since I can get German ingredients.

I’ll start with an easy one. Some German red cabbage recipes have apples in them, or onions, or even bacon. They’re pretty good, but this one is easy, and DH and my son eat it up. I always serve it with schnitzel or bratwurst.

Rotkohl (Red Cabbage)

1 med. head red cabbage, finely shredded
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar (to begin with)
1/2 cup red wine vinegar (to begin with)
1/2 cup water (to begin with)
salt and pepper

Put all ingredients together in large pot. Cook at least two hours over very low heat. Cabbage will wilt and darken. If it begins to get dry, add more vinegar and water. You don’t want it soupy, though. Taste periodically, and add more sugar or vinegar as needed. Makes about 12 servings.

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cookiecrumb said...

That's a very nicely written recipe. Clear and unintimidating, and best of all, it prepares you for possible tinkering. (to begin with)
I look forward to more.

Kalyn said...

Just curious - have you ever tried making this with Splenda? It seems like it would work.

ostwestwind said...

Hi, you are looking for a blog about German food? I'm German and I cook German food, o.k. sometimes also others.

It would give me a great pleasure if you visit my "Küchenlatein"

LB said...

Hi Cyndi--

Glad you've discovered Cookiecrumb over at I'm Mad as well...I share her political bent too and it's always good to find a friendly web site...

I've been to Germany brother was a civilian contractor working at a base about an hour from Munich...something-stein. Might have been Ramstein...I know it was in Bavaria...oh was 1989 and I'm really reaching now to remember...anyway...never much explored the food while I was there, unfortunately! But I did get chicken pox!

Comfort Food