Ah, good old German food. You might have already sorted out I went to high school in Germany so I might be a smidge biased. But if you like warm, comfort foods, you’ll be hard pressed to find things to hate during the holidays in Germany. I shall contain myself to generally available Christmas market foods to guide your visit.
NOTE: Do NOT eat before you attend a German Christmas market. Absolute waste of time. However, if you’re really craving a salad, find it elsewhere.
It’s at least chilly and often cold in December in Germany. You’ll be bundled up and still appreciate your first stop which should definitely be glühwein. That’s spiced, warm wine served in collectable ceramic mugs unique to each city. Most of the time it’s red wine but in some areas you can also find white which is refreshingly different. Always it’s steaming hot and offered with non-alcoholic options including hot chocolate and apple cider. But you MUST at least try the glühwein once. Think of it as a way to warm your frozen fingers. We promise you won’t be disappointed. (Incidentally, we noticed completely different wine tastes in seven different major markets to don’t assume they’re all the same.)
For hearty options, graze. Find the part of the market where the food is centered and wander around before choosing. You can definitely find wurst of all sorts at every market in the country. But you might also find lovely potato or leek or onion soups, made-to-order flatbread pizzas, grilled meats on a stick with a hearty German roll stuck on the end as it’s served to you, and possibly half or quarter roasted chicken. You could do as we did and follow the crowd assuming the longest line is the best but none of the lines were too long. For a real treat, look around for grilled cheese (kase) for a little salty diversion.
In essence, much of the market is a fair. That means you will see lots of sweets. Traditionally, one purchases a gingerbread heart or decoration as a momento for decorating the tree and they can be personalized with the name of your sweetheart or children. Lebkuchen are a spicy gingerbread option and you’ll have no trouble finding a vendor offering samples of various sorts.
Another favorite is flavored almonds and nuts which are fresh roasted during the fair and offered for sale pre-packaged or by weight. A similar setup is available for huge quantities of candies, all intended to enhance the holiday season.
A few stalls will likely sell more elaborate specialties like specific breads, cheeses, sausages which are likely either used as gifts or only-for-the-holidays meals. And many will offer beautiful fruit compotes and jellies, local honey and wines which are truly worthy of souvenirs and gifts for home.
And the pretzels. Goodness, do NOT miss at least one fresh pretzel with or without mustard sauce. You won’t have trouble finding them. Just follow your nose. But be aware, in our humble opinion, once they cool down they lose something. Go ahead. Eat it there and grab another for the transport back home.
By all means, contact us for tips and details if you’re planning a trip to the region. We’re always happy to share our travel knowledge. www.facebook.com/SueHendersonPhotography/