German Food

The region Baden is known for its good food — the concentration of acclaimed restaurants is the highest in Germany. However, the region doesn't have specialties specific to the region, rather food from the surrounding regions (France, Switzerland, the Palatinate and Swabia) have been slightly altered or adapted to the tastes of the locals.

Organic food is a big deal in Germany. All supermarkets (even the discounters) offer organic food (fresh and packaged) and there are even a few supermarkets in Karlsruhe where only organic food is sold.To make things confusing, there are about 10 different seals indicating to what degree the products are organic. Here is an explanation in German.

If you are out and about wanting to try some regional food, here are some helpful translations and explanations. Anything missing?  Let us know!

For your convenience, the list is also available as a downloadable pdf to the right.

In alphabetical order:

Brezel— soft pretzel found in just about every bakery in Karlsruhe. If you ask for a Butterbrezel, it will be sliced and spread with a thick layer of butter.

Dampfnudeln — Dampfnudeln are made from a dough of white flour, water, yeast, salt, butter and sometimes eggs and sometimes a little sugar. The dough is formed into balls about the size of an egg, left to rise and then cooked in a closed pot  with milk and butter (or salt water and fat) until a golden brown crust forms at the bottom after the liquid has evaporated. The tops remain white. They are typically served as a main dish with savory accompaniments such as cabbage, salad, pickles, potato soup, or mushrooms in white sauce. They can also be served as a dessert with vanilla custard, jam, or boiled fruit.

Döner kebab — German-style döners are seasoned meat (beef or chicken) processed into a large cylindrical loaf, roasted on a vertical spit, then thinly sliced with a long knife and wrapped in flat bread with vegetable toppings and, sometimes, a spicy yogurt-like sauce. It is still debated if Döner is a German invention or if it was brought over by guest workers from Turkey.

Feldsalat —  is a type of leafy salad usually found in supermarkets in Fall and Winter. Also known as mache or lamb's lettuce in English. In restaurants often served with Speck (bacon) and Kracherle (croutons).

Flädlesuppe — clear soup or beef broth with Flädle, which are strips of crepe-like pancakes

Flammkuchen or Tarte flambée — thin bread dough rolled out and covered with creme fraiche, thinly sliced onions and bacon cooked in a wood fire over. Found at every street fair and many restaurants, especially in nearby Alsace in France.

Kartoffelsalat — good old potato salad. The "badisch" or southern variation is made with vinegar and oil and hot broth and can be served warm.

Kohl or Kraut — cabbage in many different forms - Weißkohl, Blumenkohl (cauliflower), Rosenkohl (Brussel sprouts), Spitzkohl, Rotkohl (red cabbage), Wirsing (savoy cabbage), Broccoli etc.

Krautwickel or Kohlroulade — Cabbage roll usually filled with meat.

Langos — is a flat, deep-fried yeast bread topped with either sweet or hearty toppings. Originally Hungarian. Found at many street festivals and especially the local Christmas Markets.

Linsen — lentils often found in soups or together with Spätzle

Maroni — chestnuts.

Maultaschen — is similar to ravioli, but usually larger, each piece being about 8-12 cm (3-5 inches) across. Outer layer of pasta dough with a filling traditionally made of minced meat, smoked meat, spinach, bread crumbs and onions and flavored with various herbs and spices (e.g. parsley and nutmeg). Maultaschen are traditionally eaten either geröstet (cut into slices and fried in a pan with onions and scrambled eggs) or in der Brühe (simmered in vegetable broth), or geschmälzt (dressed with butter and onions), usually with potato salad.

Sauerkraut — pickled cabbage - in this region often prepared with white wine usually Riesling.

Schäufele — pork shoulder first cured and smoked before it is simmered in a broth of water, white wine, vinegar, onion, bay laurel and clove for about two to two and a half hours. It is then served with warm potato salad.

Schnecken (often as a Badische Schneckensuppe) — snails! Found in soup or as an appetizer served in the shell with a garlicky butter.

Schupfnudeln (often with Sauerkraut) — a type of dumpling or thick noodle usually made from rye or wheat flour and egg. They have an elongated shape and are often served as a savory dish with sauerkraut but are also served in sweet dishes.

Schwarzwälderkirschtorte — Black Forest cake consists of several layers of chocolate cake, with whipped cream and cherries between each layer. Then the cake is decorated with additional whipped cream, maraschino cherries, and chocolate shavings. Traditionally, Kirschwasser (a clear liquor distilled from tart cherries) is added to the cake.

Spargel — White asparagus also known as white gold. Found locally in spring and sold only until June 24th! In Baden, traditionally served with Flädle (pancakes) and cooked ham.

Spätzle (often with Linsen) — a type of noodle made from eggs, flour, and salt. Traditionally, Spätzle are made by scraping dough off a wooden chopping board ("Spätzlebrett") into boiling salt water where they cook until they rise to the surface.

Wurst — sausage. The warm sausage (Bratwurst) is usually served in a bread roll — you can add your own mustard or ketchup.  There are so many different types of Wurst in Germany, that even Germany have trouble understanding what is what and from which region.

Wurstsalat — is a tart sausage (thinly sliced) salad prepared with vinegar, oil and onions. It is normally made from a sort of boiled sausage like Lyoner or Regensburger.  Common additional ingredients are finely cut gherkins, radishes, parsley or chives. A popular variant is the Straßburger Wurstsalat (Strasburg wurstsalat) or Elsässer Wurstsalat (Alsacian wurstsalat), and contains Emmental cheese.

Zwiebelkuchen — is a quiche-like dish made of steamed onions, diced bacon, cream, and caraway seeds. It is particularly popular in the German wine-growing regions paired with new wine (Neuer Wein or Federweisser)