This simple, small, vegetarian dish consists of half a slice of rye bread with a dollop of butter and cheese. It is served with onions, pickle and mustard. In Dusseldorf, the cheese served with Halve Hahn is Mainz cheese, produced from skimmed and acidified milk, while other varieties of cheese are served elsewhere in NRW.
Sauerbraten, or sour roast, used to be traditionally cooked with horse meat, but it has now been replaced by beef, pork, venison or mutton. Sauerbraten is prepared by marinating the meat in vinegar, wine, spices and herbs for a number of days before roasting it, which makes it juicy, sweet and sour and so soft that it melts in the mouth. In Dusseldorf, sugar, beet syrup and raisins are added to the dish, and it is served with apple sauce, potato dumplings and cabbage.
Westfälischer Pickert, or ‘Westphalian potato pancake’, has been a popular dish in NRW since the 18th century. The dough for the pancake is made from potatoes, eggs and flour and is cooked over a pan. It can be served with sugar, butter and marmalade, or with ground meat.
Himmel and Erde, which translates as ‘sky and earth’, is named after two of its most important ingredients: apples (from heaven) and potatoes (from the earth). The dish traditionally consists of black pudding, apple sauce, mashed potatoes and onions, with certain regional variations. In Dusseldorf, this dish is known as Himmel und Ähd, and thinly cut apple slices (often caramelised or sprinkled with powdered sugar) are served, instead of the more traditional apple sauce. Many restaurants in Dusseldorf also include sausages in the dish.
Grünkohlessen is a traditional German dish that is very popular in Dusseldorf. This hearty dish consists of kale, sausages, baked sweet potatoes, bacon and mustard. It is traditionally a wintertime dish and often associated with merriment and festivals.
Rinderwurst is a traditional dish made of beef sausage, vegetables, barley or oatmeal, butter and a variety of spices. In Dusseldorf, and in some other parts of NRW, this dish is served accompanied by bread and boiled potatoes, making it a filling and hearty meal.
Rheinischer Döbbekooche is a potato cake that was historically consumed by poor people on St Martin’s Day when they couldn’t afford goose. It is made of grated potatoes, eggs, spices and onions, with sausages and bacon strips often added to it. The mix is then baked for a couple of hours, resulting in a crusty texture.
Westphalian pumpernickel is a special bread belonging to the NRW region. It is made of rye flour, sugar beet syrup and malt extract. It is kneaded thoroughly (traditionally using the feet) and baked at a low temperature. Traditionally, it was baked for over 24 hours, giving it a brick-hard, burnt texture. But in modern times, it is baked for just a few hours, giving the bread a rustic appearance and a sweetish flavour. This bread is usually allowed to sit for about a week before being served.
Blutwurst, or blood sausage, is made from pork left over after slaughter. Other ingredients added to the dish include beef or mutton scraps, onions, oatmeal, milk, thyme and herbs. The dish is thickened with blood. The mix is then made into smoked or air-dried sausages. The Blutwurst usually has a dark-brown colour and is usually served with bread, mashed potatoes and salad.
Miesmuscheln, or mussels cooked in white wine, are a delicacy usually eaten accompanied by rye bread slathered in butter. Historically, mussels for this dish used to be gathered in the Rhine Delta, and rarely reached Dusseldorf. But with improvements in river transportation, Miesmuscheln have become very popular in Dusseldorf.