Last week was all about cake, so let’s talk about our second favourite baked item: bread!
When Germans come to Australia, their first complaint will usually be “Es gibt hier keine richtigen Brötchen und das Brot hat keine Körner!” (There are no proper bread rolls here and the bread doesn’t have any grains!”) Australians then often think “What on Earth are they on about? Our bread is fine! What a weird thing to complain about…”
The common stereotype is that Germans love their bread and that they know how to bake it! Is this true? Let’s find out…
The very first bread was made sometime over 10,000 years ago when people started to harvest grains for food. The grains were ground down and mixed together with water to create porridge. A little while later, this ‘porridge’ was baked in ashes or on top of hot stones to make a sort of flatbread. This initial ‘baking’ lead to two ground-breaking discoveries:
- People realised that if they surrounded the mixture with heat, rather than just placing it on a hot stone, this would create a round bread – and thus, the first ovens were born!
- People discovered that if they let the mixture stand for a few days, yeast would be attracted to the dough, which would make it rise, resulting in much lighter, airy breads.
Who knew that adding water to a few grains would result in the invention of one of our favourite kitchen appliances?
Now, the baking of this initial bread occurred in several places around the world. Throughout the years, bread has become more than just a food in Germany – it has become an integral part of the country’s culture. Germans start their day by eating Brötchen (bread rolls) for breakfast, and finish their day with a light Abendbrot (literally, “evening bread”) (Germans eat their main meal at lunch time and therefore only have a light evening meal). Bread is also found at every festival – whether it be a Fischbrötchen (bread roll with fish) in Hamburg or a Leberkässemmel (meat loaf on a bread roll) at Munich’s Oktoberfest, and, of course, the big, soft Brezeln (pretzels) should never be missing!
Did you know that Germany produces more varieties of bread than any other culture? There are over 300 varieties of dark and light breads made in Germany, as well as more than 1,200 varieties of bread rolls and other small breads. As with all German food, there is no “typical” German bread, as the “typical” type is dependent on what region you are in. Overall, people in the northern parts typically prefer the darker, heavier breads, such as rye breads, whereas those in the southern parts generally prefer lighter breads made with wheat.
You can find out more about the different categories of German bread here: http://www.germanfoodguide.com/breadcat.cfm
Overall, the myth that Germans love bread and know how to bake it is definitely
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