Josna Rege

253. Food, Bremen-style

In 2010s, Food, places, Stories, travel on April 7, 2014 at 6:32 pm

FI’m so full that I can hardly bear to sit down and write an entry on food, but I have no choice: today’s letter demands it. I totter over to a low divan and recline against a pile of pillows like a denizen of ancient Rome, sipping herbal “detox” tea, with my laptop on my outstretched legs.

German food, as eaten in this North German city of Bremen, is my subject for today, a story I will tell through pictures with a minimum of accompanying text, sapped as my energy is following a blow-out meal, with all the blood rushing to my stomach.

We haven’t necessarily been eating typical German food, at least, not all the time, because for one thing my friend and host is on a diet and avoiding bread and sweets and for another, we both love fresh fruit and vegetables. Nevertheless, she knows that it’s my first time in Germany and wants to make sure that I have the full experience. The bounty overflows from the shelves and baskets of every local supermarket, fruit and vegetable stand, and delicatessen. So much of it, and in so much variety, that it can be overwhelming just to look at. But I have a strong stomach and take pride in being a good trencherwoman, so I am trying my best to do justice to the task. Forgive me if I don’t have the energy for cross/trans-cultural commentary today, but I have to conserve my energy so as to be equal to the next meal. Depicted below are just a few of the foods and dishes that seem to be specialties, some of Germany at large, others of this particular region.

Note to vegetarians: I will try not to offend your sensibilities with too many pictures of meat, but please be forewarned that meat is a staple of German diet—and especially here in the North, so is fish.

Bread and Beer

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0,,16472415_404,00German bread, even the white bread, is dense and substantial—a real staple—not the fluff that the Wonderbread generation got used to in the United States. This is a loaf topped with pumpkin seeds that we picked up at the local supermarket. It goes down well with cheese, accompanied by that other German speciality, beer. My host was shocked to see that I hadn’t chosen to photograph a local brand, especially when the globally-known Beck’s beer is brewed right here in Bremen, so I am inserting another photograph to make up for my lapse.

Cheese

I have never seen so many varieties of cheese before. This bewildering array was photographed in a supermarket, never mind a delicatessen or cheese shop. (Bio, by the way, means organic.)

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Meat (especially salami)

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I am no expert in this department, so I’ll just let a couple of photos do the talking.

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Fish

Here I’ll mention a few regional specialties that I have tasted: Heringsalat (shown at top right made with beets), and Nordseekrabben, described as a kind of brown shrimp, but which my friend insists is not shrimp. Whatever it is, it’s delicious. And then there are tasty little sprotten, or sprats, one of which I had for lunch today. (Remember the “kegs of salted sprats” in The Pied Piper of Hamelin?)

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Milk, buttermilk, and yoghurt

Leaving the meats with a sigh of relief, we return to the dairy products. The shelves are laden with a staggering variety of milks, buttermilks, yogurts, kefirs, and more.

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White asparagus (spargel) and new potatoes

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There was a stand outside the supermarket, selling new potatoes and a strange-looking vegetable I couldn’t identify. My friend told me that the short spargel season was just beginning and that I had a treat in store. Apparently spargel or carefully cultivated white asparagus, served with lavishly buttered new potatoes, among other things, is eaten ceremonially each year to herald Spring.

Coffee

Germans are coffee drinkers, although decent tea can be found here, particularly in Bremen, which is home to Tee-Handels-Kontor,  the oldest tea importers in Germany. Here’s a photo of our after-lunch espressos, served in my friend’s mother’s beautiful espresso cups.

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Chocolate

There are two important chocolatiers in Bremen, one of which is Hachez. The chocolate displays in this city go on for aisles and aisles, especially at Eastertime, so here is a stack of Kinder eggs, world-famous for the ingenious little toys that children find inside and assemble for themselves, and a Hachez chocolate bearing an illustration of The Bremen Town Musicians, a Grimm’s fairytale beloved in this city for obvious reasons.  Milka is another German chocolate I’ve fallen in love with, particularly because in the U.S. these days everyone seems to think that dark chocolate is superior, and I’ve always secretly preferred milk.

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After each meal I am certain that I will never be able to eat another morsel ever again;
until I am tempted by just one more piece of chocolate.

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Tell Me Another (Contents to Date)

Chronological Table of Contents

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  1. Sparegel (Fat White Asparagus) in the spring time in Bremen with buttered German Potatoes( Germans are very particular about the quality of their potatoes) with butter/lemon sauces and semi sweet white wine. Followed with a dessert of cheese and pastry. Those were good days.All the best Josna maybe a second time out.

  2. It sounds as if you’ve spent quite a bit of time in Bremen, Asghar. You make this spargel sound heavenly. I must admit that I was a little skeptical about the idea of chlorophyl-starved asparagus, but now I’m really looking forward to it–especially with the new potatoes. We plan to have a spring feast of it before I leave.

    • Only short visits over 4 years, but i must confess we ate well.Personally for me a meal is incomplete without meat/fish but i found the spring spargel quite filling.The Park Hotel has a cafe at the other side of the park from the main building where it was very nice having lunch on a sunny spring day.

  3. Your photos make everything look delicious, especially the chocolate. I agree that dark is not as good, and after much sampling decided that 45% cocoa is the ideal concentration. Enjoy!

    • Thanks for the tip–I will look for 45% next time (hard work, that sampling must be!). Have mostly ogled the chocolate, aside from a bar of strawberry cream-filled Milka, but soon I will have to do some sampling of my own. It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it!

  4. I, too, am full to the gills at the moment, but I do have room for a little chocolate, now that you mention it! I love dark and milk chocolates both — very egalitarian that way. I think the current craze for dark is just because we’re told it’s healthy and somehow connected to weight loss. (Why else?)

    The array of dairy goods in your photo is especially interesting. There appear to be a lot of flavored buttermilks that we don’t have here. I don’t think I’ve ever sat down and drunk a glass of the stuff at all, although I may have used it a couple of times in recipes.

    • Sarah, I could have gone on taking photographs in that supermarket, but people were looking at me a little strangely. The yoghurts stretched on for rows and rows, the goat’s milk yoghurts alone were pretty extensive, then the fruit ones, the organic ones, it went on I bought a yoghurt in a jar with muesli in it for tomorrow’s breakfast.
      Have you ever had Indian lassi? That’s buttermilk–delicious.
      Like your equal-opportunity approach to chocolate! x J

  5. I’ve just finished reading your #252 and must say you write some of the most interesting non-fiction I’ve ever read – it carries me so pleasantly easily from start to finish. With most non-fic, my mind very soon wanders far and away…
    I’ve never been to Germany but have a few connections and while living in Dallas TX enjoyed genuine German food at the Bavarian Grill (where, horror of horrors, the chicken dance was also done).
    So it is that I fully enjoyed this F post. You’d think Germans would be huge, but they are incredibly low on the “fat countries” list!
    And you’d think that last wafer-thin chocolate offering would do you like Monty Python’s Monsieur Creosote, but most fortunately, I see it has not!
    I look forward to your next experience : )

    • Miss Alister, I almost put in a hyperlink to the Monty Python skit, but, hovering on the brink, decided it might put things over the top (so to speak).
      And yes, I’ve been amazed by how trim most people look, given the daily temptations they’re faced with,
      Thanks for commenting. Now I have to look up the chicken dance, Cheers, J

      • Beware! the chicken dance is almost, but not quite, OK it’s far from being as off-putting as having trodden in Monsieur’s bucket!

  6. Well now, I shall have to change your title to “Gourmand!”
    Enjoy!

  7. I was a huge fan of those chocolate eggs as a kid 🙂 It all looks delicious!
    Good luck with A-Z. 🙂
    http://bonniegwyn.blogspot.com/

  8. What a lovely, lovely, delicious post!

    I’m sad that my American children can’t get Kinder eggs. They’d love them.

    As for chocolate, I am a dark fan, and it has nothing to do with health or weight loss. I just love the combination of sweet and bitter, especially when mixed with things like nuts and fruits…

    My husband, though, loves milk, and, as I love him… =)

    The bread….yum! It looks like it could be a meal, all on its own.

    So happy I picked “F” to visit you – and here I was thinking all German food included sauerkraut, which I do not enjoy. I am happily disabused of that notion. =)

  9. I think I would enjoy a trip to that supermarket, unlike my local one. The bread especially appealed to me.

  10. German bread is sooooo good! The different Brötchen from the bakery, so crispy on the outside, when you cut them there is that fresh, cracking sound…

  11. […] Food, Bremen-style lavishly illustrated post on the German—or at least the Bremer—diet, as I have been experiencing it […]

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