If you like hearty home-style meals and plenty of meat, then Bavaria in Southern Germany is your kind of place. I visited this part of Germany recently on a short trip to see the Oberammergau Passion Play and here’s a taste of what you might expect when you eat out in a typical Gasthaus or Biergarten.
Meat, especially veal, pork and sausages feature prominently on every menu in Bavaria and you’ll find plenty of roast meat dishes on the menu typically served with potato dumplings and salad or vegetables. I did find that practically everything came with lots of sauce or gravy, so if you prefer your sauce served separately, you’d better mention it when you order, if your German’s up to it. A very typical dish is the Wiener Schnitzel, a thin fillet of veal that’s coated with breadcrumbs and fried, served with a wedge of lemon and any chicken dishes would often be served with a wine or mushroom sauce.
When it comes to fish, the river fishes, such as salmon, trout or pike are often served with a herby cream sauce and rice. After I’d had a few too many slices of meat swimming in gravy I decided that the fish was a more reliable choice if you prefer something lighter. I did enjoy the mixed salads, which in Germany seem to be more of a compilation of other salads, unlike the UK where you’ll get an uninspiring mixture of lettuce, tomato and cucumber. You might find that within one bowl you get a small serving of any of the following; sliced peeled cucumber in a vinegar dressing, mixed salad leaves, creamy potato salad, grated carrots and sliced red onions. One of my favourite lunchtime meals was a large plate of this mixed salad topped with deep fried potato pockets filled with soft cheese – as there was so much colourful salad to work though I didn’t feel so guilty about eating those crispy deep fried potato croquettes.
When it comes to fruit and desert, cherries are the undisputed fruit of Bavaria although you’ll also find red and black currents, raspberries and strawberries in season. We bought a large punnet of raspberries in the market at Altötting for a picnic lunch before our cycle ride to the badesee, but the dark, glossy cherries looked the most beautiful. If I’m honest, I found that when eating from restaurant set menus, the dishes all start to look a bit the same, but I think that we were hampered by a limited knowledge of German so we possibly missed some of the more unusual dishes. I found that when we shopped from a farmer’s market for our picnic, we were able to point out some more interesting things including small fried potato rosti cakes, a soft cheese flavoured with paprika and some little savoury pastries.
Of course, all of this hearty Bavarian fare should be washed down by a large beer, served by a waitress wearing the traditional dirndl and seated in a pretty biergarten with a view of the Alps in the distance. Prost!
More tales from Bavaria to enjoy