To be honest, Culinaria Germany is not a standard Cookbook. It’s more like a book about the regions of Germany, and the foods each region specializes in, and why. It’s an encyclopedia of German food! That happens to be a cookbook. This is the type of book you can read cover to cover, or you can just open it anywhere in the book to read a few pages. And as a reference, it’s invaluable… it has EVERYTHING (with this book, you don’t need Google…). AND the recipes inside are spot on.
How thorough is Culinaria Germany? The book contains everything you EVER wanted to know about Potatoes… along with photos and descriptions of different varieties, different types of potato dishes AND recipes. You also find sections on sausages, root vegetables, cabbages and bread; fish, eel, vegetables, fruits and mushrooms, and other important food stuffs that fill German stomachs. There are sections on meats, beef, pork and wild game. A lot is written about sausages, of course. I read with great interest about wine growing in the Rhine and Mosel River Valleys. And of course, many pages are devoted to beer (liquid bread).
Interspersed are pages about food in German history. The Roman influences on the Germanic people’s diet, how people in Germany ate during the Middle Ages, how the fork/knife/spoon came in to use, how Germans survived during the years between the Wars, and how the Berlin Airlift kept an entire city from starving. What foods did coal-miners typically take into the mines with them… and how did the Schultute come to be.
But, my favorite parts are descriptions of foods made for specific German holidays. Goose is traditional for Christmas day, but in many households, Cod is served on Christmas Eve. (My mom likes to tell a story about how a neighbor would let the cod fish swim in the bathtub for a few days before cooking it, to “clean it out”… naturally, this meant the family couldn’t use the bathtub…). Easter, Silvester, Fasching and Erntedankfest are all celebrated with FOOD.
Then there are sweets; Cakes, cookies, candies, chocolate and marzipan. Every region has a specialty. The seafaring regions bake with lots of imported spices… the farming regions bake with fruits. And it all looks so good.
Culinaria Germany is a fabulous recipe book for anyone who is at all curious about German food or German History. Because it is divided into simple sections, you can just open up at any point and learn something new. There are a few editions, and the one with the blue cover is the older edition, dated 2007, can be purchased fairly cheaply. The Newer edition is a red, and costs a bit more, but it has been updated. Also, there is an English/German edition.
Culinaria Germany… for anyone who loves Germany and German Food.