What are typically German dishes? The first things that almost everyone would associate with the German culture are beer, Sauerkraut (pickled cabbage) and Bockwurst (let´s face it: the best German sausage). These well-known classics from the German cuisine all have one thing in common: they come in tins. That´s reason enough for us to take a closer look at these popular dishes and dive deeper into German culture.
The many German Beers
The most important thing first: beer. Hardly any other country in the world produces as many different beers than Germany. Some years ago, two brothers from Leipzig even founded the website Biermap24.de (sorry, German only) to get an overview of the different types of German beer. Until today, they have registered almost 8,000 individual beer brands. There could be even more, were it not for the famous German Purity Law.
A German saying loosely translated as ‘Hops and malt for beer, may God preserve them here’ alludes to the basic ingredients used in beer brewing. In 1516, these ingredients were laid down in the so-called ‘purity law’ in the Bavarian city of Ingolstadt. This law requires that ‘nothing other than barley, hops and water be used’ to produce beer. The importance of yeast wasn´t known at the time and was added later. Until 1987, the purity law was part of German law.
Obviously, Germans love their beer. It´s no wonder that brewers choose beverage cans to package it! Cans have the advantage of being an unbreakable packaging with a low weight – perfect to take away and irreplaceable at festivals.
Even though not originated in Germany, Sauerkraut (pickled cabbage) is strongly associated with the Germans. In fact, it was the Chinese, who first fermented cabbage in rice wine over 2,000 years ago. It took the Europeans nearly 1,500 years to adopt this habit of fermenting cabbage, thus creating what we know today as sauerkraut. So how come the Germans are seen as the “sauerkraut eaters”? The answer dates back to First World War: Back then, German army food consisted mainly of sauerkraut. The nickname “Krauts” was born, used by English and American soldiers to refer to their German war-time enemies – a moniker, the Germans have come to accept with humor.
While declining in popularity as a side dish in modern German cuisine, its health properties and versatility have caused sauerkraut to experience a culinary revival all over the world. It´s not only delicious, but has a remarkable health effect, being super rich on vitamin c and various minerals. And the best about it? It usually comes in cans.
Where Does the “Wurst Culture” Come From?
Sausages and meat rank high on the list of things that Germany is known for, and with good reason! With over 1,200 types of sausage, Germany is a global leader in both production and consumption of this meaty treat. We want you to sample our favorite: the bockwurst. It’s pork and beef boiled in brine – the classic hot dog sausage. It may sound simple, but has a long history in Germany:
The first known lores place bockwurst in Bavaria as far back as the 1550s. It was best enjoyed accompanying strong bockbier, which was brewed in the northern town of Einbeck. In the 19th century, bockbier and bockwurst formed the typical Bavarian breakfast.
How did our favourite sausage find its way into the can? All credits for the invention of canned sausages go to the sausage manufacturer Friedrich Heine. At the end of the 19th century, he noticed that canned vegetables (which were already a thing) could be sold all year round and was certain this technique would help sell his sausages too.
Wilhelm II, the last German Emperor and King of Prussia, turned to Heine in 1896 and commissioned him to supply 40,000 sausages for the inauguration of the Kyffhäuser monument. This quantity being too much to offer freshly, Heine began preparations for this event month in advance, packaging the sausages in cans.
The clichés about typical German food are not so far-fetched and often have their origins in history. Obviously, bockwurst and sauerkraut aren´t on every German’s daily menu. Honestly, though, you can’t say the same about beer. Prost!