THE NEW GERMAN COOKBOOK By Jean Anderson and Hedy Würz
Photos: no Ease: 2-4
When I first moved to the Pfalz region of Germany 10 years ago, I felt like Alice on the other side of the Looking Glass. People looked like Americans . . . from the late 70s. The language on signs seemed discernible, but often meant something else altogether (“Gift,” for instance, means “Poison”). The food, too, looked familiar, but had new and hard-to-place undertones (mace in mashed potatoes). I believe that the best way to understand a place is to learn about what its people eat and how they cook, so to better acquaint myself with my new home I looked for insight into their cuisine.
Of all the German cookbooks I read, this has proved the most useful and captured authentic flavors for a non-German reader. There is a comprehensive kitchen glossary and short tour of German wines and beers (yes, more wine than beer is drunk in Deutschland today!), then a treasury of recipes from both restaurant and home Küchen that capture the soul of modern German cooking.
Start with some classics: Bohnensuppe (soup with white and green beans, 123), Eintopf mit Bockwurst (leek stew with sausage, 173), Mohnstollen (poppy seed stollen, 315), Wiener Schnitzel (breaded veal cutlets, 151), or Rindsrouladen (savory beef rolls, 137). I made the Bohnensuppe for a skeptical German friend who is a native Pfälzer, and he grudgingly pronounced it almost as good as his mother's! You will also find original recipes for American family favorites such as spätzle, apple pancakes, vanilla kipferle (crescent cookies), and rum-fruit toppings (start in April, ready by Christmas!).
If you’ve ever lived in or travelled to Germany, or if your family's roots are there, you may find yourself transported back with a dish from this book. Now that we live on the other side of the globe, T and I recently took a “cheap trip back” with a meal of Rindsrouladen, Kartoffelpüree (mashed potatoes) und Spargelsalat (white asparagus salad, 283). The only thing missing from our meal was a nice Pfälzer Spätburgunder or Dornfelder (both German dry red wines) – still can’t find a German red in Hawaii!