Germans' insatiable love affair with potatoes

Culture

Potatoes are a German staple

No matter how you slice it, potatoes make up a large part of the average German diet. Whether in soups, mashed, fried, or served as French fries or chips, an average of roughly 60-65 kilograms of potatoes are eaten per person per year in Germany.

Culture

Potatoes were once guarded by soldiers

Native to the Bolivian and Peruvian Andes, the potato first arrived in Germany in 1630. According to legend, King Frederick II of Prussia believed in the economic and nutritious value of potatoes. He tricked local farmers into planting more of the so-called apple of the earth by posting soldiers around the potato fields to protect them. It worked - highly valued goods taste even better.

Culture

Texture is key

With over 5,000 varieties of potatoes now grown today, it's important to select the right fruit for your dish. Potatoes are sorted not by color, but by how they cook up. The firm and dense types are best for frying or making potato salad, while the fluffy, floury sorts are ideal for mashing and baking.

Culture

There are sundry potato salad recipes

Pot lucks can prove problematic in Germany, since potato salad is a popular dish to bring. However, everyone's version is different. Some smother the sliced potatoes in hot oil and bacon; others prefer theirs chilled and coated in mayonnaise and accompanied by pickles. Either way, German potato salad is a must at any grill party.

Culture

Potatoes are made round again

Hearty German fare often includes potato dumplings, which come in different varieties. Some are made with cooked potatoes, while others mixed with flour for a starker consistency. Known as either Klösse or Knödel, the potato dumpling is a favorite side with pork roast.

Culture

Chips go German-style

Much of those 60-odd kilograms eaten by the average German each year must come from potato chips, considering it takes 10,000 kilograms of potatoes to make 2,500 kilograms of chips. Although chips are not native to Germany, some of the flavor choices are. Originally limited to only paprika or salt, flavors now include currywurst, ketchup and mayonnaise - and even the African sauce chakalaka.

Culture

French fries can be a meal

Known as "Pommes" in Germany, French fries are often served with currywurst (pictured) or as a side dish with any other hearty meal. But street vendors also sell them all by themselves, often in paper cones and with a wooden fork - a trend in neighboring Holland and Belgium, too. They are offered with a wide variety of sauces, included standard ketchup, curry-flavored ketchup and mayonnaise.

Culture

Baked potatoes are a vegetarian favorite

A delicious, utterly basic dish that gets a lot of play in the German kitchen, the baked potato is cooked in its skin and often comes wrapped in aluminum foil. Served with a hefty helping of a herbed "Quark" (like yogurt) and a side salad, the "Pellkartoffel" will fill you up - even without a portion of meat.

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Common at the Christmas market

"Reibekuchen" are shredded potatoes mixed with onions, deep fried and topped with applesauce, molasses or smoked salmon and yogurt sauce. They are a delicacy found at many Christmas markets in Germany. Popular with kids, the potato pancake can be quite filling despite its simplicity - but they're greasy, so grab a napkin when you buy them to-go.

Culture

Potatoes in the German language

Potatoes play a central role in German idioms, too. While the "dumbest farmer harvests the fattest potatoes" is a lament in German, it's similar to the English "fortune favors fools." And being dropped like a hot potato can happen no matter your native tongue. It seems Germans don't just like to eat potatoes - they also like to talk about them.

They were once guarded by the king and are sometimes eaten with apple sauce. Here are some things you maybe didn't know about potatoes in Germany.

Whether they are fried, baked, sliced, grated or rolled, potatoes pair with nearly every dish in Germany - and Germans literally eat tons of them every year. 

Click through the gallery above for more about the German obsession with potatoes in all their varieties. If your meal isn't complete with just potatoes, the gallery below suggests 10 ways to eat a sausage in Germany. For more about German culture, language and lifestyle, visit dw.com/meetthegermans

Culture

Bratwurst

It is a favorite in Germany, and each region has its own version. There are over 50 kinds of bratwurst, and they all vary in size, texture and seasoning - so no wonder it's confusing. Although Germans now associate "Brat" with "braten," which means to fry, broil or grill, the name originally derives from Old High German: "Brät" meant finely chopped meat.

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Nürnberger (Nuremberger)

Among the different varieties of Bratwurst, you can recognize the one produced in Nuremberg by its size. It's surprisingly small, not much bigger than a pinkie finger. Historical documents already mentioned this wurst back in 1313. These sausages are traditionally grilled over flames, served six at a time, and accompanied by sauerkraut and potatoes with horseradish or mustard on the side.

Culture

Currywurst

A currywurst is simply a steamed bratwurst seasoned with ketchup and covered with curry powder. In a country specialized in high-tech cars, it sounds a bit exaggerated to call this fast-food snack an "invention," but Herta Heuwer, the Berlin cook who developed the special sauce, actually patented it in 1959. It's since become a street food classic. There's even a currywurst museum in Berlin.

Culture

Weisswurst

This veal Bavarian sausage translates as "white sausage" for its color. It has no preservatives, nor is it smoked, which is why it's meant to be eaten fresh the day it was made. A German saying recommends the Weisswurst should never get to hear the church bells ring at noon. To eat it, some suck out the meat from the skin, or, more discreetly, cut it in half and roll out the filling with a fork.

Culture

Blutwurst

The German Blutwurst (blood sausage) is usually made with pork blood and bacon. As it is already cooked, it does not need to be eaten hot - but some people do. Some regions include it in dishes with colorful names: the Rhineland's "Himmel und Erde" (Sky and Earth) combines it with mashed potatoes and apple sauce. "Tote Oma" (Dead Grandma) is Berlin's way of serving it with liverwurst and potatoes.

Culture

Landjäger

The Landjäger is a smoked semi-dried sausage traditionally made in different German-speaking countries. It can be kept without refrigeration, which is why it became a popular snack for everyone spending time outdoors, from hikers to soldiers. "Jäger" means "hunter" in German.

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Mettwurst

This is another type of sausage which can be very different from region to region. Strongly flavored, its minced meat (usually pork, but sometimes beef) is preserved through a curing and smoking process. In the South of Germany, it is usually spreadable, whereas the northern varieties are harder and more like salami.

Culture

Leberwurst

There are different forms of Leberwurst, which has its anglicized form, "liverwurst." They can generally be defined as German pre-cooked sausages which are spreadable. As the name reveals, they usually contain liver - often from pigs or calves, but some varieties are made from goose, turkey or even anchovies.

Culture

Teewurst

From breakfast to that last evening snack, Germans have traditionally found a way to eat sausage throughout the day. Teewurst means "tea sausage," a name which is believed to come from it being served in sandwiches at teatime. What makes it so easy to spread? The fat: It makes up about 30 to 40 percent of this rich wurst.

Culture

Salami

Salami is typically Italian, but it is just as popular in sausage-loving Germany - and it's much more than just a pizza topping. If Italians usually stick to coffee and sweet bread rolls for breakfast, Germans will gladly serve slices of salami first thing in the morning, too. They'll enjoy it all day, as salami shows up for the simple evening meal called "Abendbrot" as well.

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