To me, the title of Nadia Hassani’s cookbook, “Spoonfuls of Germany”, has two meanings. When I think of food that you eat with a spoon, I imagine comfort foods, foods your mother or Oma would make to nourish you with love; foods that fill you up and keep you warm and safe. But there is another interpretation; “Spoonfuls of Germany” can also mean to share the information about German cuisine a bit at a time, to help you understand and come to enjoy the foods as Nadia Hassani so clearly does.
Quick Look at the Contents
Authentic German Recipes
It’s a bit sad that somewhere along the line German food got labeled as “heavy”, “fattening”, “bland” or even unhealthy. The image was a lot of meat, potatoes and bread. A diet that appeared repetitive and boring. Hassani sets the record straight, and shows that the German menu is quite varied, interesting and even healthy! However, as she points out in her introduction- for 60 years, since WW2, Germany tried to lay low as a country. And with no one drawing attention, the outside world didn’t see the truth. The new resurgence of interest in all things German means that chefs, as well as diners, are starting to examine German cuisine under a new light.
When I was growing up, we ate German food. Yes, there were nights when we had Braten or Wurst and Kartoffelsalat, but more often we ate Eintopf, stews or soups, loaded with vegetables that Mama grew in her garden. Of course, we ate a lot (a WHOLE LOT) of potatoes, but we also ate an amazing variety of salads. The “heavy” foods did come to the table, but in smaller portions. This is the German cuisine that most Germans know. This is the food described by this fantastic cookbook.
“Spoonfuls of Germany” is broken up by region. Obviously, food doesn’t always appreciate borders; so many dishes that “belong” to one area are found in another. Still, you will find more fish dishes in the North, and the Allgau is known for all things cheese!
The German Food I Know
My mother’s family is Silesian, and she grew up in Westphalia, so both of these regions influenced what we ate. She is famous for her Mohnstriezel… and I was delighted to find a recipe just like hers in the book. And I swooned when I found a recipe for the Westphalian specialty, Tottchen (a Veal Ragout served at Schutzenfest) and a family favorite “Huhnerfrikasee”(Chicken Fricassee with Asparagus) . A pleasant surprise was finding Oma’s recipe for Kopfsalat mit Sahnesosse (Butterlettuce Salad with Cream Dressing), the sweet, tangy and creamy salad dressing that my Oma made at least 3 times a week! I thought she invented it!
This special book that can be enjoyed two ways. Obviously, it is a cookbook, and a good one at that. The recipes are clear and easy to follow, with straightforward instructions that don’t leave you wondering what you are doing. The ingredients can be sourced here in the United States, so you won’t have to haunt specialty stores or beg relatives overseas to mail obscure ingredients. But it’s also a social history book. Each recipe comes with an introduction that describes where the food originated, or maybe a little anecdote to explain its German name (my favorite is Stammer Max!!). In between there are personal stories and tips about German ingredients and foods.
Spoonfuls of Germany
The recipes are not necessarily dishes you would find in a restaurant, although resurgence in the old ways may be changing that. Food is what links us to our past and to each other. Food is our history. How we eat and what we eat says a lot about where we came from. So many of my memories are tied up with food; holiday dishes… chilled soup on hot days…. Open faced Schnitten (I still dislike having a top piece of bread on a sandwich… and I LOVE bread).
I’ve tested a few of the recipes with delicious success. The family inhaled the Veal Ragout, and I caught my daughter licking the bowl that the Rote Grutze came in. The Chicken in Riesling (the cover recipe) made a beautiful and delicious welcome-home meal for my son.
Nadia Hassani’s “Spoonfuls of Germany” brings back so many memories for me. It’s loaded with recipes that I cook myself, and recipes that I haven’t tasted for years. More importantly, it’s a gateway to real German cooking for anyone who can appreciate good food.
Spoonfuls of Germany is available for purchase on Amazon
Both in Paperback, and as a Kindle Download-
Remember, you don’t need to have a kindle, you can download the Kindle App–> Free Kindle App
The First Edition of Spoonfuls of Germany in Hardcover
You can follow Nadia Hassani’s blog here—->“Spoonfuls of Germany”
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