Germany: Surfing, Beer and the Best Cheese You’ve Never Heard Of

Traveling to Germany last summer was one of the most fulfilling journeys I have ever taken. It was sandwiched between Florence and Prague on my “Great American College Backpacking Trip” and it completely took me by surprise.

My fiancee and I both have roots in Bavaria, the southeastern state of Germany, so we decided to travel to Munich. Experiencing German cuisine was an interesting experience for me because as a child, I hated German food– there was no way my mom was going to get me to eat her sausage and sauerkraut. But after eating at the Hacker-Pschorr brewhouse, everything changed.

Just to give you an idea of how much beer is a part of German history–the Hacker brewery was founded in 1417. No, that was not a typo–the Germans have been brewing beer long before the United States was even a country! So these guys know what they’re doing. I’m telling you now, if you visit Germany and don’t leave loving beer, you did it wrong.

But anyways, back to the food. We chose to eat at the Hacker-Pschorr brewery simply because the Airbnb apartment we were staying at was located above it, and boy did we get lucky. This was hands-down, THE BEST MEAL OF MY LIFE. I ordered a dish with beef and pork medallions in a creamy dark gravy with cheese spatzle (small, soft egg noodles). It sounds so simple, but that gravy was the single most delicious thing I have ever tasted. I wanted to lick the plate it was so good. I went to bed that night a very happy German-American, with my belly full of meat and good, good beer.

The next day we ventured out into downtown Munich and decided to go to The Englischer Garten, or “English Garden”. One of my favorite things aobut European cities are the vast green spaces throught their cities, and Munich was no exception. The Englischer Garten wasn’t like any other park I’d ever been to, and included a beautiful waterfull, large beer garden, and surfing! Yes, people really do surf in the canals throughout the gardens.

 

While the surfing is cool, I’m going to focus on the biergarten for the purposes of this article, because I know you’re just dying to hear more about food. The number one thing you need to know before going to Germany is this: they love beer just as much as you think they do. Beer isn’t just an alcoholic beverage to them– it a staple in their culture. For God’s sake, they have brewing purity laws that were enacted in the 1500s!

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Visiting this biergarten is definitely a must if you plan on (and you should!) visiting Munich. Even if you aren’t German by blood, you will feel like you are here….. liter mugs of beer, a traditional live German band, old men in lederhosen, and giant pretzels- what’s more German than that?! There is one secret weapon that the Germans have that make me love them even more, and it’s called obatzda. Obatzda is an addictingly delicious, creamy cheese spread eaten on those big Bavarian pretzels, and it’s out of this world! And because Germany is a little far from good old West Lafayette, Indiana, I’m going to teach you how to make it at home!

 

Obatzda 

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Ingredients

  • 8 oz brie (or camembert)
  • 3 oz cream cheese
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 3 TBSP minced onion
  • 2 TBSP parsley
  • 1 tsp toasted caraway seeds
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 4-5 cloves roasted garlic
  • 2 TBSP dark German beer (I used a Paulaner Double Bock I found at Payless)

Instructions

Using a mixer, blend the brie, butter and cream cheese together, stopping to occasionally scrape the sides of the bowl.

Add in the remaining ingredients and blend until well mixed.

To toast the caraway seeds: In a pan set to medium heat, add the caraway seeds to the pan and heat until the seeds are fragrant.

To roast the garlic: Peel off the excess layers of the head of garlic, leaving the inner layers intact. Cut off the top of the head (not the root end) and place in a small glass bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and cover the bowl with foil. Place the bowl in the oven and roast at 375 degrees for about 40-45 minutes.

**Obatzda is traditionally eaten by spreading it onto a large soft pretzel and eaten along with sliced red onion and radishes. However, you can eat it by spreading it on bread or crackers, but don’t forget the onion!

 

All my love and a little butter,

Olivia Birlson

Senior in Dietetics and the Certificate in Entrepreneurship Program at Purdue University

Cooking Instructor

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