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Food and Drink

Bratwurst, sauerkraut and beer are the first things that come to mind. Indeed, you’ll find the best sausages in the world (don’t ask how they are made or from what) and over 5,000 different types of beer. The brewing law of 1516 still stands, stating that beer be made of malt, water, hops, yeast and nothing else. But German cuisine goes much deeper, and if you’re a hearty eater (of the non-vegetarian kind), then this is the country for you. Meat is on every menu, and you find many dishes with game and wild meat; these are excellent.

It’s important to say that German cuisine, like the people who eat it, varies from north to south, east to west, as does the beer. Many regional dishes still dominate the local diets. The people of the north eat more fish and seafood, and meals tend to be lighter. They prefer Pilsner beer with lots of hops, and warm themselves in winter with Grog, rum from Flensburg.

To the west, it gets slightly more adventurous, with knuckles of pork, black pudding (known as Cologne Caviar), and Röggelchen, a rye-bread roll with gouda cheese and mustard. But it all tastes great. Don’t leave without trying mussels from the River Rhine or Sauerbraten, braised beef. Locals wash it all down with Alt, a dark beer, in Düsseldorf and Kölsch, a lager, in Cologne.

To the southwest, the Swabians made history with their Spätzel noodles, while Knödel, made from potato dough, remains a staple of the local diet. Pfälzer Saumagen is stuffed pig’s stomach and is extremely popular around the Rhineland, and the beer here is some of the best in Germany, simply because of the crystal clear waters used in the brewing process. White wines such as Moselle are also popular here.

In Bavaria, German food gets seriously hearty. This is the home of the pork roast, crunchy crackling included, and the legendary knuckle of veal. Perhaps all the food is meant to stave of the intoxication caused by the strong Weissbier that is drunk in great gulps. Or it could simply be that all that drinking makes you hungry and all that eating makes you thirsty.

Other foods popular throughout Germany include Eisbein (pork shank), Roulade (rolled meat), a myriad of Schnitzels, sausages of every colour, shape and length, Klöße (potato dumplings), and sweet red cabbage. And then there are the cakes and deserts. Follow it all with a few belts of Schnapps and your stomach will feel no pain; it will just get bigger.

Cam Jeffery

Cam'sHis first novel, The Bicycle Teacher, is now available under the Janus Books imprint and can be ordered at www.amazon.co.uk