One of my favorite things about my new home is that it is in walking distance of a place to sit and sip a good coffee. A couple days ago I took my notebook for a stroll and sat down at one of their tables outside in the sun, the weather was just too good to pass by without enjoying it and I had some work to do. Well I had a hard time to get my thoughts together, three ladies nearby were so engaged in their conversation, that they didn’t realized, they were entertaining the whole place. Although my mum taught me not to spy on others (actually no she never did that, so I am excused) I was curious and working was no option anymore so I listened for a while. I was amazed to hear they were talking about Germany. One of the ladies was planning her next vacation in Germany and she was raving about all the nice things she is going to do and buy there. And that was the point I started rolling my eyes, she was talking about Schwarzwald Kuckucksuhr, Lederhosen and wood carvings for Christmas from the Fichtelgebirge. I was hoping for some new shopping inspirations for my next trip home to Germany, which is coming up very soon. I already started to make a list. I am the kind of person who wouldn’t survive without lists, I make lists to remind me to make lists, the only way for me to manage literary everything. If you are around here for a while you already know about my chaotic me.
Vacation time is coming up and I thought you might also visit Germany and need some inspiration for stuff to bring home or try out while there. I am sure nothing of it will be mentioned in your ordinary traveling guide. Coming up are mainly food related insiders and no dust catcher that will look good as fireplace decoration. Please check in advance for customs restrictions of the country you are living in, I don’t want you to face some jail time just because you are “accidentally” smuggling a bag full of Bratwursts on your way home.
1. Pul Biber (paprika flakes) This is not really German but very good available. Germany has a huge population of people from Turkey. They came with a lot of culture and food is a big part of that. When I had been living in my old hometown grocery shopping sometimes involved a stop at one of the small Turkey shops for flavorful tomatoes and the biggest and sweetest watermelons. Their spices are worth a glaze to, especially the pul biber: spicy but not really hot, a little tangy and full of paprika flavor. I use it on nearly everything and it is especially great for stews and soups, on eggs… And it is my go to live saver if I screwed up the seasoning of something, which never may happen.
2. Ostfriesentee I didn’t like black tea for the most time of my life, turned out I just had tried the wrong kind. The Ostfriesentee (East Frisian tea) is a dark and strong Assam blend. This tea is great to enjoy with some cream, rum (nice on a cold night) and is usually sweetened with rock sugar (Kandis or Kluntje).
3. Curry Gewürz Ketchup My family calls it schleimi ketchup. It is different from your usual tomato ketchup, more like a BBQ sauce (?). Their spice mixture is based on the famous sauce for the Currywurst in Berlin. Pouring it over spaghetti had kept me from starving a couple of times in my early grown up days, this is definitive not a gourmet tip. I still love it but don’t go by a bottle a week anymore. If you are flying consider buying a small bottle, the big bottle could be too heavy for your bag.
4. German chocolate Chocolate is my daily bread and I prefer the dark one, a few pieces melting in my mouth is another way of experiencing heaven. From time to time I need good milk chocolate. Growing up my uncle used to bring me milk chocolate with hazelnut and raisins, still love this combination but it is hard to get here in the states. Ritter Sport makes a milk chocolate with whole almonds and a dark chocolate with marzipan that I love. Although German chocolate is available in stores in the US, it can be hard to find and is always pricey. Also I am missing out the seasonal variations like spekulatius at Christmas time, summertime specials with fruits. And what kind of genius put salty cracker into milk chocolate?
5. Gummies and licorice This is Mr. F’s must have, he is totally into all the gummy goodness and licorice. I like to chew on one or two from time to time, it gives me tooth pain somehow. One big exception is the grapefruits from Haribo, they are like crack for me (I think I mentioned it already). Now this company sells some without gelatin, which is suitable for vegetarians. Again they are available in the states but just a few variations, there is so much more out there!
There is some more stuff which is not necessary on my list, but worth mentioning:
Lebkuchen (it’s just too early for that)
Knoedelmix (I like homemade better but wanted to remind you about that)
Birkenstocks, the selection is much larger in Germany, might be (but not always) cheaper
Stabilo, my favorite fine-line pens
Dr. Oetker pudding, I love it as a warm pudding on cold nights (comfort food) and a few recipes in my notebook call for the vanilla flavored. Try the caramel, so good.
Müesli, bigger selection and better taste
Blätterkrokant, another heavenly sweet thing: brittle, covered with chocolate (hard to explain?!)
WMF cookware, simply one of the best. I also look for Kaiser baking pans, my springform pan never leakes, easy to clean and is non-stick.
Quark, unfortunately I can’t bring that home with me. It is the main ingredient for a good German cheesecake. I love it on a fresh crispy roll with homemade jam.
German wines: Riesling, Muller-Thurgau, Silvaner, Dornfelder. I don’t know why, but most available German wines in the states are sweet. I think they keep the good stuff for themselves.
Sahnesteif, a white powder comes in little envelopes. You add this while you are whipping cream, it makes it firmer and keeps it this way for longer, great for cakes. I am not a big fan of whipped cream but I didn’t want you to miss out.
Erdnuss Flips, it is a totally mystery for me why it is not available in the states. Peanuts are loved by so many people here, give this flips a chance.
Eyeglass frames, every time I am in my hometown I visit my trusted Optiker (optician). Mr F and I both tried to get new glasses in the states and there is nothing wrong about the quality etc. but I get a better selection and a great service in Germany (someone told me the selection in Italy is even better). A few years ago a guy asked me if I am German because I have this fancy glasses. We talked for a while and he told me about his visit in Germany and that he loved to drive on the Autobahn. He especially liked the exit sign… Ausfahrt… fart you get it?
This is a long list of stuff you should bring home from your trip to Germany. You can say I am writing this list for a while… But I am sure there is something I didn’t thought about, so please leave a comment to continue this list.