Monday, July 23, 2007

Auf Weidersehen, German Food!

I've just returned from a pretty glorious trip to Europe in which I was lucky enough to visit a bit of both Austria and Germany. We spent most of our time in teeny tiny farming towns in the Alps, and if we hadn't been traveling with native Germans I don't think we would have gotten very far. There were few to no Americans and even the English of most people we encountered was pretty limited. If you'd like to see and read more about the trip, click here to check out my photo blog.

As much fun as we had, I'm not sure I'm going to be ready to have German food again for a long, long time. With the exception of the odd pizza or spaghetti here and there it was nonstop schnitzel (with a variety of sauce types), frites, red cabbage, goulash and beer.

Here's sort of what the typical dinner looked like. Don't even try to ask me what those circular potato things are. And get your mind out of the gutter! But it didn't all look like this. Below are three of our top choices.

These "frites" were a favorite. They count as a food group, right? Yeah, they're basically french fries, but they're served piping hot with plenty of salt, and a ketchup that I found to be less sweet and more tomato-y than American ketchup.

Second, the "schneeballen" we found in the super-charming, medieval city of Rothenburg. These are sliced pieces of dough fried up in "snowball" shape and flavored with everything under the sun. I had one filled with hazelnut cream and coated in frosting. Deelish.

And last, but certainly not least, I have a new favorite beer drink: the Radler (pronounced Rahd-lur). It's basically just the town's locally brewed beer mixed with about a quarter Sprite, but who would've thought that such a simple mixture could be so refreshing? The perfect antidote to the 95-degree weather we had. I'll be recreating this drink on my deck here in Chicago in the very near future.

No, German food isn't quite up at the same level of French or Italian, but I'd still be hard pressed to find a more satisfying appetizer than a tall glass of beer and a salty, crispy plate of frites at the end of the day.

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