Oktoberfest is widely known as being the largest beer festival in the world, but for many German-Americans, it’s also a cultural celebration. It’s a time to reconnect with their roots as they celebrate one of the oldest traditions of their culture. Sure, Oktoberfest is a great time to drink lots of beer and have fun, but it’s also a great time to learn more about a culture and its customs! One of the best ways to explore a culture is through food and today, we want to tell you about traditional German food. You’ll see that despite having names that may be difficult to pronounce, they’re actually not unlike foods commonly found in America. Here’s a list of some German foods that you should know.
Probably the most common German food in America, Bratwurst is a savory sausage that you can find in most grocery stores. In America, they’re commonly eaten in a bun like a hot dog, topped with mustard and sauerkraut. Others may eat them with a side of potato salad and some bread. You can cook them by grilling or pan frying them. Many also cook them in beer before finishing them off on a grill.
As we mentioned, sauerkraut is commonly served with bratwurst, (or any sausage for that matter). Sauerkraut translates to “sour cabbage” which is exactly what it is. It gets its sour taste from the fermentation process. (Fermenting vegetables is a popular practice among lots of cultures including pickles in America or kimchi in Korea.) It’s eaten as a side dish or as a topping with sausages and is extremely popular even here in America.
As we mentioned earlier, bratwurst is an incredibly common food in Germany. In fact, it’s a typical fast food item and is sold by street vendors. One popular way to serve bratwurst is with a curry ketchup sauce. In essence, that is what currywurst is. It’s a sausage smothered in a curry ketchup sauce and it’s one of the most popular foods that you’ll find in Germany.
You may commonly think of goulash as an eastern European food, but “gulasch” is a variation that hails from Germany. It is a beef stew that is seasoned with two types of Hungarian paprika and braised in red wine. Some add sauerkraut and onions as filler and it’s often eaten alongside potatoes or noodles.
Spatzle is a type of egg noodle. It’s served as a side with many traditional German dishes.
For more people, when they hear “schnitzel” they think of the hot dog fast food chain, Weinerschnitzel. So to my surprise, as I was learning about German food, schnitzel has nothing to do with hot dogs. Schnitzel is actually a fried pork cutlet. It’s typically served with spatzle and grazy and is enjoyed by many throughout the year.
Now that you know a little more about German food and culture, we invite you learn more about how you can host your own Oktoberfest party. We’ve got lots of great resources and costume ideas on our blog! Do you have a favorite German dish? Is so, tell us about it by leaving a comment!