When I left the United States in August 2004 on a direct Lufthansa flight from Portland to Frankfurt I exhaled. Not only was I incredibly excited to spend a year in Hamburg, and not at Smith, but I also was leaving the booming no-carb diet behind. Just a couple days before I left, I had stumbled across pasta in the grocery store. Now, this is usually not an abnormal occurrence; however, this pasta said “Low Carb” on it. Let me ask you: what makes pasta (a carbohydrate by nature) low carb?? Key: by nature. This pasta was no longer anything resembling “natural.” The sadder thing was, that this pasta was made by an Italian company. Americans had even convinced foreigners that to make money in our country, they had to cave in.
Not Germany. This is the land of bread, and I trusted that no silly fad would be able to take that identity away from it. And I was right. When I landed, I was wafted with the smell of Brezeln (German pretzels), rolls, and other baked goods from the airport bakery. This was pure happiness, and no one buying the bread was feeling guilty about their choice. Especially not me.
My family has battled the lack of decent bread in the States all of my life (and before). My father’s infamous homemade wood-fired oven is proof to this. My father enjoys his time in Germany for many reasons, but not excluding the fact that he gets to take a vacation from baking. Although he is proud of his work, and finds peace and meditation in it (except when things go wrong), he is a baker forced to do so by the situation of his society, not by his own original desires.
Not only my family enjoys the bread here. My boyfriend thrives on it – he loves carbs to begin with, and when he lived here, he would frequently take advantage of his local bakery’s year-long special: three Brezeln for a euro twenty-five. This, along with a banana, would be his lunch. Other friends from high school who traveled to Germany on school trips also commented on the tasty bread. I remember one of my friends responding to my mother’s inquiries with: “It tastes so good! But I can’t get over the crust – it’s so hard!” Unfortunately, Americans have grown up with Wonder Bread and the only slightly better Oroweat “crusts” and have to take some time to acclimate themselves to breads that live up to the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition:
crust (n.) – The hard outer part of a loaf or roll of bread.
Overall, as I have mentioned before, bakeries specialize usually in either pastries or bread. My parents have good friends in Friedrichshafen, the Rieser family, who own a bakery and make what my family claims to be the best Brezeln in Germany. This is proven by the use of sound logic:
1. The further south you go in Germany, the better the Brezeln.
2. Friedrichshafen is on the southern border to Austria and Switzerland (pretty much as far south as you can get in Germany).
3. Riesers makes the best Brezeln in Friedrichshafen.
4. Riesers makes the best Brezeln in Germany.
A good Brezel is one that has a crunchy crust, and X, but has a soft interior perfect for butter (Butterbrezel) or a soft French cheese like Camembert or Brie (or Germany’s fantastic Geramot, a commercialized knock-off of French cheeses that just might be one of my favorites…).
This whole somewhat disjointed “ode” to German bread is simply to say this: Germans understand that bread is essential. Everyone has their favorite bread, sold at their favorite bakery, and eaten in their favorite way. And let me tell you, there are many different kinds. So if you try one kind of bread here in Germany and dislike it, just try a different one. Or go to a different bakery. Overall, carbohydrates in Germany are delicious. And for those of you expats looking for a blog niche, here it is: travel Germany and write about your experiences in German bakeries. Now wouldn’t that be a tasty read?