Tag Archives: munich

My little Bavarian food exploration!

30 Apr

Fair warning: I am no expert. I am just an interested individual, curious about cuisines. And, this is a fresh take on a cuisine that I thought I would never eat.

One of the best things about traveling is experiencing the food. When it came to Germany however, the thought of not finding anything to eat was most concerning. Don’t let that surprise you – It’s because I am picky vegetarian – and because I was told that all that Germans eat are meat and potatoes. Dull and boring? So wrong. So-so wrong.

Germans definitely love their meat and potatoes, but there is so much more to that cuisine than that. And, there are so many other regional and multi-cultural influences that even those who do not really like meat and potatoes would do just fine. To top that, restaurants accomodate dietary restrictions, servers speak English and provide English menus.

On my recent road trip to South-West Germany with my better half and 2.5 year old toddler, I quickly realized I was not going to need my mac-n-cheese/pasta packs and my traditional ‘theplas’ (We don’t often admit but but first-generation picky-vegetarian Indian-Gujaratis don’t really travel much without them!) that I had carried all the way from NYC. Most of the cities we visited offered salad options and pizzas. Little pizza parlors had accompanying fresh produce sections where one could pick up fruits and easy-to-nibble vegetables.

Much to my surprise and contrary to what I had read before traveling to Germany, the bigger cities had not only Italian and French restaurants, but also Turkish/Mediterranean kebob houses; and Thai, North and South Indian and Mexican food options.

Their open-air food markets are also a delight! The main food market in Munich dated back to 1950’s, was clean and well-preserved with beer and (huge!) pretzels on the premises – and tons of fresh food! Sellers were eager to offer samples of olives, cheese and fruits.

There were several stalls with fresh produce – clearly a vegetarian’s paradise along with meat options…

Austrian wines were also available for purchase on site!

Truth be told, the stereotypes are true: Traditionally, German food specialties include sausage, bread, potatoes and cabbage/sauerkraut. And you get to wash it all down with several big glasses of dark beer. Lucky are those who genuinely like beer. You will have a blast at a beer garden such as the famous Hofbräuhaus.

But, I bet you didn’t know – yogurt-like curd cheese, asparagus, mushrooms and pumpkin are very much a part of their diet!

As also expected, German food is much influenced by the cuisine of the neighboring countries – There are French influences (goose liver, hot black pudding, coq au vin, snail soup, crepes), Swiss influences ( veal), and Italian influences (egg-based noodles and stuffed meat ravioli).

To experience some real Bavarian food in Munich, we went to a popular local restaurant called Fraunhofer Wirtshaus – that dated back all the way to 1874. Just as Birge Amondson from About.com Guide described it, this restaurant had a cozy and down-to-earth atmosphere and drew in an interesting mix of people, from locals and tourists, to students, and actors from the adjacent theater.

We were greeted by a friendly, young, English-speaking server who seemed extremely accommodating. The food – both meat and vegetarian options were plenty.

Clearly, Germans like their red meat. They also probably eat every part of the pig, and roast knuckle, sausage, tongue, ribs and belly are common delicacies.  They also treat the meat in different ways – grilled, roast, boiled and braised etc! And just like the humongous sizes of beer and pretzels, the portion sizes in most restaurants are fairly decent.

Here’s what a Bavarian meal could look like:  Roast Pork, Potato Dumpling and a Cabbage Salad…and beer.

While food varies widely across regions of Germany, I took a photo of the menu that the restaurant I visited had.

First impressions –

– The stereotypes are true. Meat and potatoes!

– Cabbage, cabbage everywhere: White or red cabbage, sauteed into a ‘salad-side’ preparation

– Big on bread: Breaded dumplings, bread hors oeuvres, black and white bread, and bread on the table!

– Potatoes: Baked, mashed, in salads, as sides, and as dumplings

But look at some of the other options – Stuffed peppers, creamed mushrooms, beans, egg salad and other salads, fruits..and what you don’t see on the menu but is served – spaghetti in tomato sauce! Even my vegetarian toddler didn’t go hungry!

And desserts!  Germans eat their sweets with their coffee, and not so much after meals – but the desserts are pretty darn good – cookies, cakes and fruit tarts!

Finally, no German food experience is complete without the famous Black Forest Cake! We drove half-way around the Black Forest to look for the authentic cake…and finally found it in a quaint and absolutely delightful town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Baden Wurttemberg….that we know we just might visit again.

Until next time, reader. Ciao.

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