…bizarre drink to wash it all down.
After telling you all about the 10 German foods I dearly miss last time, how about sticking with the topic of food and diving into the crazy stuff?
There are plenty of German foods that foreigners find bizarre but we Germans just love (blood sausage, head cheese, liverwurst…), but we also have dishes that we as Germans honor as a tradition but mostly find a bit weird ourselves – but we sure do enjoy eating them!
So here are five delightful bizarre German foods and one drink to accompany them!
Labskaus is a traditional Nothern German dish and, as so many of our delicacies, was born out of necessity: during long journeys on sea the seaman hat to eat whatever would keep for a long time: pickled meat, pickled beetroot, potatoes, and if times were good, pickled herring.
For Labskaus corned beef, boiled potatoes and pickled beetroots are all mashed together, then topped with a sunny side up fried egg, and served with more pickled beetroot, gherkins and Rollmops, which is a pickled herring filet rolled around a slice of, yes, another pickle.
Labskaus is without any question nothing short of outright delicious, and I am not kidding you. It is salty, slightly sweet from the beetroot, sour, fresh, fishy, meaty, it just has everything. I truly enjoy it and the best Labskaus you can undoubtedly get up in the North at the coast. In fact, you probably won’t get it anywhere else. It’s a pity!
2. Tote Oma
Everything about this dish, from the name to the ingredients, is gruesome.
Tote Oma literally means “dead grandmother”, and yes, that is the official name of the dish. It is made from pork blood, pork lard, barley, onions, bread crumbs and so on, all of which is fried and served with boiled potatoes and sauerkraut. Old recipes also call for lung. Bon appetit!
By the way, although this is a traditional dish of my East German home of Thuringia, I never ate it, yet simply out of lack of opportunity. I don’t find it repulsive at all. I do, however, understand everyone who does not want to eat a dish called “dead grandmother”, much less if he or she finds out that it is about as scary as the name suggests.
3. Berliner Weisse
Do you need a beer after that shock? Look no further – here is the Berliner Weisse. A local specialty of, you guessed it, our beautiful capital of Berlin, Berliner Weisse is a thin and sour beer that is
made even worse improved by adding Waldmeister or raspberry syrup. Waldmeister, in English called wild baby’s breath (which I find ridiculously cute!) is a flavor we Germans love, so we add it to soda, jello and beer. Berliner Weisse is served in special large glasses with a short straw and you will be able to enjoy the flavor for hours after you reluctantly finished your glass because it coats your whole mouth with a tart sourness that is indescribable and never seems to go away.
One of my favorite childhood dishes and a rather local specialty (West Germans don’t know it. Barbarians.): Wurstnudeln. It is quick, nutritious, and has fruit as a side, so it is totally healthy! Pasta (in our family it is always fussili because we are all convinced it tastes best with fussili) is mixed with cubed Fleischwurst (some sort of bologna but definitely not nearly as horrible as bologna) that has been fried. Then, to bring you a bit closer to your first heart attack, all of that is mixed with copious amounts of breadcrumbs fried in butter. To counteract the detrimental effects that fat overload has on your body we eat it all with apple sauce. If you think bologna noodles with apple sauce don’t taste good you are mistaken. If you try it and still insist it doesn’t taste good you are as Barbarian as those weird West Germans…
Did that fried bologna pasta topped with butter fried bread crumbs sound unhealthy? You don’t think it gets worse?
You sure don’t know us Germans.
My beloveth Griebenschmalz probably took 5 years of my life before I even turned 10, but it was worth every bite: it is rendered pork fat mixed with crispy bits of pork rind, spiced with salt, and often made even more delicious with fried onions or apples. It is also available made from goose fat, which in my opinion tastes even better.
We love to eat it on bread, which is then called Fettbemme, literally fat bread, often topped with a sliced pickle. It is the snack to eat on a hike and once you start you can’t stop. It is salty fat on bread topped with sour crispness, I mean… Doesn’t that sound ambrosial?
How cute this Mettigel looks at you with his olive eyes! What a cheeky little fellow! But wait, is that raw ground meat?
It sure is!
Mett is nothing but raw ground pork, and Igel means hedgehog. It all makes sense now, right? It is a popular party food with spines made of pretzel sticks or sometimes raw onions. Everyone just uses crackers to get their fill of raw meat, or the dismembered hedgehog is smeared on bread rolls, topped with lots of pepper and raw onion rings.
In East Germany we also eat raw ground pork as is, not in the shape of any animal (definitely not in the shape of the pig anymore *badum tsss*), just spiced with salt and pepper, on a bread roll or sourdough bread. It is called Gehacktes and if you never had it, don’t judge, it is absolutely delightful. I guess you have to get over the fear of eating raw meat – my husband is utterly disgusted by this idea and always gets ready to call 911 when he sees me tasting raw ground beef to make sure the meatballs will be well seasoned – but if it is good meat there is nothing to be afraid of. Except getting addicted to it, which would take another 5 years off your life after you already lost 5 years to fat bread.
Now which of these delicacies would YOU dare to try?