German Cold Cuts

Yesterday Steve Ury from the L.A. based food and whisky blog Sku’s Recent Eats asked why this site focuses so much on American culinary atrocities. Fair enough, after all I am German and – what’s even better (or is it worse?) – I was born into the end of the Dark Ages of German food. So I can confirm that Europe in general and Germany in particluar do indeed have ther fair share of gastronomic failures. And I will try to maintain a transatlantic perspective.


I found a small German recipe book called “Kalte Platten – Kalte Büffets” (Cold Cuts – Cold Buffets) from 1975. Not all in it is truly disgusting, but as you can tell from the pimento-stuffed olives on top of the stuffed tomatoes on the cover this book holds a few ‘pleasant’ surprises.


We’ll kick off with a cold fruit soup (Kaltschale), something that actually is rather popular in summer. This raspberry soup might in fact taste quite good, after all it is based on white wine, and the rasbperries are macerated in eau de vie. But the addition of cornstarch in order to give the liquid a soup-like texture turns it into a gooey visual nightmare.

A few pages later I could hardly believe my eyes. Could this really be true? This looks creepily familiar:


What might look like a harmless fruity dessert kind of congealed cream is in fact – almost a jello salad! Apart from milk, cream and canned peaches this aspic features chopped walnuts, ‘liquid onion’ seasoning (hugely popular at that time) and diced cheese. A true American-style jello salad must have some vegetables in it, but this is far more than I had expected.

The next picture shows something universally regarded as THE typical German food: sauerkraut. It is so German that there isn’t even an English word for it. Sauerkraut and hot or cold meat is indeed popular in Germany (and in neighbouring Alsace where it is called by the French word ‘choucroute’). But here it is served with a devious twist:


A nasty pineapple bursting with fruit-enhanced cold sauerkraut sits in the middle of all those delicious cured and smoked meats that Germany is so rightly proud of, thus ruining it all. The recipe even suggests adding grapes to that mixture. The white goo (sour cream? mayonnaise) at the right is not mentioned. I suspect it belongs to a different dish since this picture is obviously clipped from a full-blown buffet, but it could as well be meant to go with the meat. And how can you serve cured pork chops without mustard?

To finish off, here is a special treat thay you may have not seen before:


Stuffed white radish! Butter, condensed milk, cheese, ham, gherkins, pimento and chives work their magic here. Guten Appetit!

{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Josh Feldman February 8, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    Brilliant work, Oliver. But I suspect more ghastly German culinary items lurk out there. A colorful bit of background concerning your amusing observation: THE typical German food: sauerkraut. It is so German that there isn’t even an English word for it.” During WWII, Americans referred to Germans as “Krauts”. Indeed, some still do. In support of this observation I provide the following:

    “Kraut is a German word recorded in English from 1918 onwards as a derogatory term for a German, particularly a German soldier during World War I and World War II.[1] Its earlier meaning in English was as a synonym for sauerkraut, a traditional German and central European food.”

    “Although recorded as a colloquial term for Germans by the mid-nineteenth century, it was during World War I that Kraut came to be used in English as a derogatory term for a German. In World War II it was used mainly by American soldiers and less so by British soldiers, who preferred the terms Jerry or Fritz. The stereotype of the sauerkraut-eating German dates back long before this time, and can be seen, for example, in Jules Verne’s depiction of the evil German industrialist Schultz, an avid sauerkraut eater, in The Begum’s Fortune.”

    Also see this reference:
    “Kraut” – “People who are German or have German heritage. It comes from the Germans eating a German dish called sauerkraut (which is spoiled cabbage). ”

    Reply edit
    • Oliver February 8, 2013 at 6:58 pm

      Oh yes, “Krauts” for Germans is well known here. After all we had been occuppied for 4 years afer WW2, and there are still “allied” troops stationed here. There even is the Krautrock music style of 1960s/70s German rock bands.

      Reply edit

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