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Given that we’re looking at typical foods served on Germany’s North Sea islands, it’s not much of a surprise to find fish and seafood dishes on our list. Finkenwerder simply describes a method of preparing fish: pan-fried and served in a creamy bacon sauce with onions and crab. While the traditional recipe uses plaice fillets, the islands’ local stock is heavily overfished and many restaurants are happy to fall back on more common fish varieties, which taste just as good.
Another East Frisian national dish goes by the name updrögt bohnen and translates to ‘dried beans’. These dried green beans are soaked overnight before they’re cooked in salted water. Potatoes, chunks of bacon and mettwurst sausages are added and cooked for some time, though the meats are removed while the other ingredients are left until they boil to a pulp. The purée-like stew is then served with a few more mettwurst sausages on the side.
The German variety of Liverpool’s scouse is a regular find of northern German and Scandinavian food menus. It’s not the most visually appealing dish but tastes surprisingly good and many seafarers in the 18th century relied on the nutritious meal. A Labskaus platter is composed of a purée made of corned beef, pickled beetroot, mashed potatoes and onions with fried eggs, gherkins (pickled cucumbers) and herring on the side.
What’s probably the most popular dish on the islands is basically an East Frisian Sunday roast. Snirtjebraten consists of large slabs of pork neck or shoulder which are marinated with cloves, allspice, juniper berries and bay leaves and then slowly pot-roasted until tender. The gravy sauce is seasoned and refined with tomato purée or cream and served with a side of red cabbage, beetroot and boiled potatoes.
For many, the Christmas season is the perfect excuse to indulge in all kinds of sweet and savoury treats, and the East Frisian islands are not an exception. This local take on pancakes is a staple food for the holidays and involves making what at first seems to be a pretty standard batter of either rye, wheat or buckwheat flour, eggs, milk, butter, sugar and salt. The distinct flavour comes from the added treacle, anise and cardamom to the speckendicken mix. Most importantly, these should be eaten with a slice of either bacon or sausage.
If you’ve tried Bavaria’s dampfnudel dish, you can guess what to expect: these dumplings are made of yeast, sugar and milk, then mixed with flour and butter and kneaded until they become a smooth dough. The fist-sized dumplings are then steamed and served as dessert with vanilla sauce and diced and cooked pears.
If after having any of these hearty East Frisian meals you still have room for dessert, keep your eyes peeled for the so-called Ostfriesentorte. The local cake recipe uses a sponge cake base, which is topped with alternating layers of whipped cream and brandy-soaked raisins. The cake is then commonly decorated with more cream and chocolate shavings.