Germany rarely gets enough credit for its cuisine and is usually placed down the pecking order when thinking of European countries that have flair in the kitchen. However, whilst the food may lack the glamour of French cooking and the vibrancy of Italy’s national dishes, it instead offers a hearty and delicious way to quell those hunger cravings.
A paradise for meat lovers, there are many offerings throughout the country that will make your eyes light up and your stomach growl. Take the towns and cities along the Rhine for example. These destinations have more than enough to satisfy anyone choosing a river cruise along the waterway. Here are a few dishes to look out for.
Translated to mean ‘Rhineland sour-roast’, this national dish of Germany gets its own twist when you visit places in North Rhine-Westphalia. A joint of pork or beef is marinated in a sour mixture, which usually includes wine, for a few days before it is then cooked slowly over a period of three or four hours. In places such as Cologne and Xanten, raisins are also added to this sauce to give sweetness. Whilst other regions will serve their sauerbraten with potato cakes or egg noodles, the Rhineland version nearly always comes with potato dumplings and red cabbage.
Himmel und Erde
By Anagoria (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Potatoes typically play second fiddle to the meat in a German dish but Himmel and Erde (heaven and earth) allows them to step further into the spotlight. The potatoes form the earth part of the dish with apples representing the heavens. Mash is mixed with apple puree and then served with sauerkraut and black pudding.
This very regional meal is perfect for a lazy afternoon or when you have company. Mostly eaten in Bergisches Land (a large, natural area to the east of Cologne), it is a slow-paced experience in which you graze on bread and butter, honey, cold meats, cheese and fruit spreads whilst sipping on cups of coffee. The meal is rounded off with a sweet treat in the form of waffles ladened with warm berries and cream.
If German cuisine is a meat lover’s paradise, then this is the ultimate dish that highlights it. Minced meat (usually veal or pork) is mixed with diced veg and spices and then cooked in a casing made of a pig’s stomach, which gives the dish its name. Once this is gently boiled, it is sliced and fried off before being serving with potatoes and sauerkraut.
Basler Flour Soup
Of course, this waterway doesn’t just flow through Germany and anyone choosing a Rhine River cruise is likely to spend some time in the Swiss city of Basel either at the beginning or end of their trip. Flour soup might not sound too appetising, but judging by the gallons that the Swiss eat during the carnival season it must be delicious. It’s made using browned flour and onions which are then mixed with spices and red wine before being topped with a little grated cheese.
To Wash It Down
In most of the areas along the Rhine, beer is what fills mealtime glasses. Whether it’s the light-coloured Kölsch of Cologne or a dark-coloured Altbier from Dusseldorf, the German purity laws are heartily celebrated in this region. However, in destinations such as Rudesheim, there’s the perfect opportunity to wash your meal down with some of the local wine. The picturesque vineyards of the upper Rhine produce some excellent Rieslings and Gewürztraminers to fill your glass.
The Rhineland region offers many hearty dishes for you to try during your European river cruise, whether it’s on board your ship or in port. If you wish to plan a trip along this fantastic waterway, contact us today.