The Cuisines of Germany

Who doesn’t love history, culture, and food?  Having already reviewed a book about the history of American foods, I happened across this book, combining actual recipes and the history behind the dishes from each region of Germany.  Apparently this is my year of reading historical cook books.

GermanyThe Cuisines of Germany by Horst Scharfenberg is different from other books on the dishes Germany.  First off, Scharfenberg begins by giving a brief history of the influences on each region’s typical cuisine.  I’m turning into a bit of a food history nerd, so this immediately grabbed my attention.  I find it fascinating how dishes develop due to climates, geography, flora, and fauna.  A little anachronistic, but still intriguing is that the regions now no longer considered part of Germany: Silesia, Pomerania, and East Prussia are also included in the list as well as references to East and West Germany.  None of this distracts from the succinct and purposeful explanation for how each region developed a certain palate.

Scharfenberg then divides the book into sections like soups, stews, desserts, beef, poultry, game, etc.  With each recipe under each section, Scharfenberg gives a note on the history of the dish, where the recipe came from, and on what occasions the dish would’ve been served.  Sometimes the recipe is actually taken from a historical diary/cookbook from several centuries ago.  And let’s just say that I’m grateful today we have standard measurements.  Some of those old recipes clearly assume you’re an established cook.  With directions like, “a pinch of salt”, “enough flour”, and “amount of sugar to your choice”, it drives me crazy!  Luckily, Scharfenberg gives a modern recipe to accompany the antique one.

While some of the recipes are typical “meat and potatoes”, there’s actually a lot of diversity within each category.  Amongst the soup recipes, there were several fruit soups as well as bean and barley soups.  So if you’re a vegetarian or just not big on having meat in every dish, there’s still recipes for you.

If you like a good serving of history and culture with your food then I do recommend this book for you.  Guten appetit!