Friday, February 19, 2010

Black Forest, Sausages, Sauerkraut, Pretzels: All Things German

Did you know that the Black Forest cake is named after the Black Forest region in Southwest Germany? And the original Black Forest Cake, or Black Forest Gateau as the Europeans call it, is LOADED with whipped cream (Gateaux are very light sponge cakes with a rich icing/ filling).

The Black Forest Gateau consists of two or three thin layers of cake sandwiched between thick layers of fresh whipped cream, covered on the top & all around with whipped cream and decorated with whipped cream, maraschino cherries & chocolate shavings. It also consists of Schwarzwald Kirschwasser, a cherry liquor from the Black Forest, or Schwarzwald region of Germany.

The baked cake is stored for 24 hours before it is dressed with the whipped cream & cherries. From the outside, you’re only supposed to be able to see the whipped cream and not the chocolate cake.

The original Black Forest cake is supposed to look like this:

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Or this:

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Contrast these with the poor excuse for Black Forest cakes that's served in India.

Did you know that an average German eats approximately 67 lbs (approx. 30 kgs) of sausages in a year? The sausages are accompanied by sauerkraut (got the spelling right without help from the dictionary!) which is made from cabbages & onions. The cabbages are thinly sliced, pounded, sprinkled with generous amounts of salt & let to stew in the salt for 6-8 weeks!! The salt drains the water from the cabbages and they are then cooked with onions.

Did you know that pretzels are German too? Legend has it that a monk, in 610 AD (beginning of the Middle Ages) was trying to use leftover bread dough. He twisted the dough in the shape of arms in prayer (Christians in those days prayed with their arms across their chest, apparently) to reward children who had learnt their religious lessons well. He named them “pretiola” in Latin, which means "little rewards". The three empty holes were meant to help children grasp the concept of the Holy Trinity.

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Pretiolas spread throughout Europe over the centuries and became really popular, particularly in German-speaking countries where they came to be known as “pretzels”.

Almost all food in the world has such interesting origins, most often than not drawing from the local culture and tradition of the place it originates from. Some of the stories around their origin are too old to be traced or verified but they are amazingly interesting stories nonetheless. The world of food is a fascinating one.

Yes, I’ve been watching a lot of Travel & Living lately. :)


The knife said...

no wonder they conquered half the world :)

My first memory of b f cake was in bombay where every b d in office was celebrated with b f cake from Oven Fresh. Eventually got sick of it as I used to have half the cake

Just Like That is turning out to be one of my favourite food blogs...way to go

Scarlett said...

@The Knife - Yay!! Thanks!! Thank you so much for the compliment :)

The black forest cakes available in India aren't even poor cousins of the original ones. You just had to see the amount of cream the German bakers were lathering onto the cake in the show :P