Germany is known for a lot of things, but food generally isn’t the first thing to come to mind. That being said, German food (in my unbiased opinion) is the best. Unfortunately, there aren’t a ton of German restaurants in the D.C. area, which leaves a lot of room for dreaming about food that you can really only get in Germany.
Don’t let the umlauts scare you; this is basically the German version of mac ‘n cheese. Made with egg noodles, cheese, crisped onions and herbs, Käsespätzle is divine after a cold day of skiing in the mountains. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve scalded my mouth from digging in because I was just too excited to wait for it to cool down.
Yes, the U.S. has pretzels and all, but nothing quite compares to a German brezel, especially in a Biergarten, which is an outdoor area that serves beers and appetizer plates. Dip it in German mustard, called Senf, or butter and let yourself be carried to heaven. When a pretzel is bigger than your face, you know you’re doing it right.
Imagine spaghetti made out of ice cream and boom, you have yourself Spaghettieis. A bed of whipped cream, a dome of spaghetti-shaped vanilla ice cream, drizzled with scrumptious strawberry sauce and topped with white chocolate shavings, this will make all other ice cream dishes seem subpar. Yes, I’ve had Spaghettieis everyday for weeks and yes, I’ve tried to make it at home (#neverforget), but no, nothing quite compares to the real thing.
Translated, Kaiserschmarrn literally means “Emperor’s mess,” but I promise, this mess is worth it. Think fluffy pancakes, raisins, rum, applesauce, and as much powdered sugar as your heart desires. For dinner. I get it sounds kind of weird, but all together, it’s pretty much heaven. I discovered Kaiserschmarrn when I was 6 and every time I go back to Germany, it’s the first thing I have to eat.
Okay, sure. Maybe you’ve had schnitzel before, but this is just one of those things that Germans (and Austrians) do sooooo much better. In case you’ve never had it, schnitzel is a thin cutlet of veal, breaded and fried to perfection. It’s so good that it’s the national dish of Austria. Pair it with Spätzle egg noodles and you’re channeling “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music.
Everyone knows bratwurst, but currywurst takes brats to a whole new level. Cover the bratwurst in a ketchup and curry sauce and pair it with a side of french fries and mayonnaise. It sounds weird, but trust me, it’s one of the best street foods you’ll find and nothing warms you up quite like it in the cold of winter.
Americans have crumb cake, but it doesn’t come close to German Streuselkuchen. Filled with fruit jams or chunky applesauce, it was always a staple at my family’s afternoon coffee and snack breaks. You can always find day-old slices at bakeries for half-price (which means that you should absolutely buy two to satisfy your craving).
To be completely honest, I had no idea what was in this juice until I realized I should find out for this article. Turns out it’s a mix of apple, oranges, pineapple, mandarins, lemon, carrots, grapes, passion fruit, pear, kiwi, peach, apricots, bananas, guava, and mango. Because there’s so much natural sugar, this juice has no added sugar, making it healthy and super tasty (and almost impossible to find in the States).
These are basically potato pancakes, fried to a perfect golden brown. Fun fact: German flour is different from American flour, meaning that it’s reeeeeally hard to recreate baked goods in the States. These potato pancakes are no exception and they just don’t taste the same here. For dinner, they’re paired with meats or fish, and they taste scrumptious with applesauce or peaches for dessert.
Imagine waking up on a Saturday morning, walking down the street to a bakery on the corner, and buying yourself warm bread rolls. Sound idyllic? Well, welcome to Germany! Spread some jam or honey on it or make a sandwich with lunch meat and cheese and you have your classic German breakfast (and snack) all in one. I know, I know, you can get them in the U.S., but nothing competes with your neighborhood Bäckerei‘s rolls.
Last, but certainly not least: German beer is one of a kind. With about 1,500 breweries, Germany has more beer options than you can imagine. Not only is it divine, but it’s also reasonably priced and there’s no shame in drinking in public. Plus, there are tons of different varieties, meaning that there’s a beer for everyone (but avoid raspberry beer…trust me.)