Bavaria, the state in which Munich is located, has a lot of farmers and, as a whole, loves tradition. It is no wonder then, that most Bavarian specialities are intended to provide you with enough calories to plough another field. They are also delicious. Here are 11 dishes that you need to try before you leave Munich. Track pants not included.
An Oma classic. Spätzle is essentially German noodles made by scraping little pieces of dough into boiling water, skimming them out, drying them and then frying them in butter with thyme. Often served with cheese sauce or sometimes bacon and onions, spätzle are the perfect way-station between pasta and perogies.
Also known as Haxe or Eisbein, Schweinshaxe is a big old pig knuckle slow-roasted with the skin still on served with a knife sticking out of it. The skin is crackly and the meat just falls off the bone. Bring a big appetite. The potato dumplings that come with are basically gravy sponges.
Weisswurst, literally white sausage, is a fat, short pork sausage that in combination with beer, a pretzel and some mustard make up the Bavarian breakfast. Again, serious business. It is delicious, but not for the faint of heart. Figuratively or literally.
These are not your rejected Super Bowl snacks. Bretzels in Germany (Braytzell) are serious business. No sugar, no cinnamon, just hearty, twisted bread studded with enough salt to make the accompanying beer a medical necessity.
A real south German specialty, schmalz is basically just pig fat, or lard. That’s it. Bavarians spread it on whole wheat bread and add crispy dry onions or apple flakes. Traditionally, this was an in-between meal snack for farmers and everyone else who did physical labour. These days, it’s just delicious.
Munich is an international city and not all the must-try are things your Oma might make. Ethiopian food is something rather special given that it is eaten communally without utensils. The bread serves as the spoon and all the food is served on giant platters to the middle of the table. The Blue Nile, Abyssinia Teff, Café Omo and De Afric await.
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No surprise here. What is often a surprise is how good pounded veal or pork can be when it is lightly breaded and fried and served with mushrooms and potatoes. There are several different varieties with the main choices being veal or pork with your choice of sauce.
When you’re walking around the main train station in Munich, keep an eye out for LeDu Happy Dumpling and Jian Bing. The restaurant is tiny, but the food they make will stick in you memory long after you return home. Happy dumplings are the listed specialty, but it’s the jian bing that are really special. Think of a thin, crunchy pancake flavoured with hoisin sauce. It’s a breakfast food in China, but it Munich, it’s the perfect on-the-go lunch.
Technically a dessert, Germknödel is so enormous it could easily pass for an entire meal all on its own. Knödel is a steamed yeast dumpling and is a common side dish with Brauhaus meat dishes like Haxe. Germknödel is filled with powidl, a sort of sweet plum sauce and is served with custard, vanilla sauce and topped with poppy seeds.
Munich’s version of the donut, Schmalznudel is available at just about any bakery in town and is the perfect companion to a cup of hot chocolate. If you want them cooked fresh to order, you’ll have to look a little harder, but Café Frischhut next to the Viktualienmarkt is a good place to start. Every Friday, right next to the main train station, various food trucks gather and offer delights such as calzones stuffed with wild boar and pear, and food straight from the steppes of Mongolia. The market moves around the city, so be sure to check the Facebook page before venturing forth.