I just returned from Germany, where I spent the holidays with my family and indulged in a lot of different street foods. I have to admit: it is quite nice to travel on Christmas day since everyone is in a good mood and acts kind. Once I arrived, I visited some of the holiday markets. Those of you living in Chicago are very familiar with some of the German traditions, especially Glühwein, the mulled wine served warm in a mug. With Glühwein, you can also enjoy different brats, potato pancakes and such.
I visited Berlin for the first time, and the Currywurst is a staple in this city. There is also a Currywurst museum, which will give you the history on this famous sausage, chopped up and served with a zesty curry sauce. Berlin is a very international city, so it is no surprise to find falafel, gyros or a doner kebab for your delight.
I then traveled to Bavaria to Nurnberg, where the bratwurst is famous. These are the small sausages, best grilled and served over sauerkraut with potatoes, something my family serves on Christmas Eve. This dish is special to this region, and it is considered street food. In some of the smaller towns in Bavaria like the city of Hof in Upper Franconia, there is a great tradition that goes back hundreds of years that involves a different type of bratwurst, boiled and served on a crusty roll. The vendors here have copper stoves heated with coal to keep these hot and ready for your enjoyment. They are spread out throughout the city and these bratwurst make a great companion during or after your shopping trip throughout the city. This snack is a great way to warm up during winter!
One of my other favorite street foods is the kartoffel puffer. It reminds me when I was a child growing up and learning to make these from scratch. You are probably familiar with the dish latkes, which is a potato dough, shaped into a patty, pan seared and served with applesauce or any kind of preserve as a side dish. There are several different recipes you could use for kartoffel puffers that use a cooked potato dough and add egg, salt, pepper and some nutmeg. You just form them into patties and pan fry until golden brown. Here's my favorite:
4 1/2 cups of mashed potatoes
1/4 onion grated
nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste
1 large egg
1/4 cup grapeseed oil for pan frying
- Grate the onion over the potatoes. Add salt, pepper, nutmeg, and egg. Mix thoroughly.
- Heat oil in a frying pan. You can use a nonstick pan and just a few drops of oil if you wish, but for best results, use 1/8 to 1/4 inch of oil.
- Drop about 1/2 cup of potato mixture into hot oil and flatten with the back of a spoon. Fry 4 to 5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
- Drain on paper towels and serve hot with applesauce and or sour cream.
Finally, there is weisswurst, a traditional dish in Bavaria served with a pretzel, a traditional sweet mustard and a weissbier, and it is only served before noon. These white sausages are steamed, not boiled. Once the water is boiling, add the sausages and simmer them for 10 minutes, remove the casing and serve. These are made fresh everyday and have no added preservatives and are not smoked. That's why you serve them in the morning, preventing them from going bad. This dish dates back to the times when there was no refrigeration.
If you are interested in learning more about German cuisine, don't miss our upcoming hands-on Prost! Celebrating German Cuisine class at Lincoln Square on Sunday, February 10 where you will learn how to make:
- Warm Beet Salad with Shallots and Caraway
- German Rouladen (Rolled Flank Steak)
- Braised Red Cabbage
- Schupfnudeln (Potato Noodles)
- Bratapfel (Baked Apples with Cinnamon and Sugar a la Mode).
This is a great menu to help you make it through winter!