German Influences – Food

German Food in America

American food is heavily influenced by the Germans, though this influence is largely hidden because it has been around for such a long time. The most reliable accounts state that around 25 percent of the American population is in some way of German descent. In earlier days, German restaurants and their food guaranteed a top notch culinary standard across most major American cities. Nowadays, German restaurants are pretty hard to come by, even in cities that have strong German ties and traditions such as Milwaukee, Cincinnati, or St. Louis.  and Milwaukee. Nevertheless, both the hamburger and the

Anyway, both the frankfurter and the hamburger and many other cured meat and sausage varieties, egg noodles, and numerous other so-called “typical American dishes have “their roots in the German cuisine. Strong German influences are even found in the proud barbecue cooking styles of many central Texas areas that house some major German influence pockets.

Some very popular American dishes, such as sauerbraten (the famous sweet and sour roast) retain their German names, just like sauerkraut, knackwurst (the sausage often referred to as knockwurst), leberwurst (that was slightly altered into liverwurst), and the always highly popular bratwurst. Americans are using the original German names comfortably, regardless whether they are of German descent or not.

Nor always have the German language names prevailed. Over the generations, some names and terms have disappeared for the major part. For example, breaded pork or veal cutlets are not called Wiener Schnitzel in America, and the traditional Roulade is known in the U.S. as “roll ‘em up”. The German Knödel is actually a dumpling and called that way, and the traditional German Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte is nowadays better known under the name Black Forest Chocolate Cake. The traditional German Berliner Pfannkuchen is now a type of doughnut, and Kartoffel Salat is known in America as German Potato Salad, the kind that is served warm and made with vinegar. Naming dishes after their original German language term has always been alive and well in America, although a fierce anti-German sentiment and reaction gained ground during World War I. Many restaurants changed the names on their menus (sauerkraut, for example, was named “Liberty Cabbage” in those days) but the German food remained popular and kept its appeal.

Irma von Starkloff Rombauer’s The Joy Of Cooking is still among America’s most influential cookbooks, and in the book that appeared for the first time in 1931, Irma made an effort to use standard English names for numerous popular German food dishes. Rombauer’s selection of typical German dishes reflected her strong influence by the southern German-speaking areas of Bavaria and Austria. The connection of American cuisine with Bavarian German food can also be explained by the circumstance that that region was occupied by U.S. soldiers immediately after the end of World War II. Many German restaurants in the U.S. have a tendency toward the somewhat heavy Bavarian cuisine and are full of decorations like German cuckoo clocks.  The world-renown Munich Oktoberfest is celebrated and copied thousands of times by somewhat smaller Oktoberfest promotions in German restaurants and bars across America.

The Pennsylvania Dutch Cuisine (Dutch-Deutsch explains the controversy, but the people in the area are all of German descent) is associated with the Mennonite and Amish communities.These communities, though, actually reflect a much broader heritage, and they keep alive so many food traditions and food names, reflecting in a very nice way the centuries-old cooking styles of the German Rhineland-Palatinate region and surroundings.

Th world’s most consumed type of beer, Lager Beer, is also America’s most popular beer type and it was brought into our country by German immigrants. This type of beer was first developed in Pilzen, located in what we know as the Czech Republic, but this lager beer was first consumed in large quantities by German-Americans. Major Beer Barons like Busch, Pabst, Schlitz, and Stroh popularized this type of beer and the Beck’s brand, originally from Bremen, the German port city, is actually the most popular and best sold imported German beer in America.

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