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Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Spätzle, Knöpfle, Maultaschen und Spargel.

Spätzle, Knöpfle, Maultaschen and Spargel.

No these are not the names of cute characters on German TV show for kids. They are in fact various food items that are particularly linked with the Baden- Württemberg area of Germany – a place of forests, great beer and a ridiculous amount of cake and gateaux. No day is a real day without Kaffee und Kuchen.

I am sure that is the wrong shaped fork! lol

Why am I telling you this? Because, dearest readers, I am off to Germany this Friday for a week of theatre twinning with Nottingham's Lace Market Theatre, Karlsruhe's Jakobus Theater and Theater Die Käuze. Beer may be consumed – not sure. Maybe if the weather is hot :)

Not both mine!
I have been going to Karlsruhe with the LMT and also independently since 2004 and as the Germans say “Ich freue mich darauf” - I am looking forward to it. We are performing 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' and Michael Frayn's 'Benefactors'. Café Bleu opposite the Jakobus Theatre is a small attraction too.

Interior of Karlsruhe's Café Bleu.
Our hosts in Germany – we stay with German families – are very hospitable and cannot do enough for us. When they come to Nottingham we hope that we return the hospitality and I am sure we do.
With my German hosts the delightful Cornelli family in 2012.
Anyway back to our friends Spätzle, Knöpfle, Maultaschen and Spargel. Apart from a great variety of very tasty bread products, potato salad and beer ( a liquid food from the Gods) these are the main food items that I have encountered whilst in the city of Karlsruhe and I wanted to share them with you.

Spätzle: Swabians and Badeners love this noodle style dish. To them it means home and happiness and it forms the cornerstone of cooking in Baden- Württemberg. The noodle style dish is simple: just flour, eggs and salt added to a little tepid water. These are mixed into a smooth elastic dough and shaved off into bubbling water with a knife. It might be time consuming to shave it all but it is definitely worth it. As soon as they float to the surface of the water they are lifted out with a skimmer and turned in butter. At this point there are many happy beaming faces from German faces all around the world! Just add a few fresh herbs or eat with anything else you might want to eat with pasta.
Spätzle mit Pilzen.

Knöpfle are like Spätzle but thicker and rounder (little buttons) because they are not formed by shaving with a knife but the original ingredients are pushed through a large holed strainer into the hot bubbling water. They do not have to be small and Hefeknöpfle can be as big as a fist (or bigger!) and then sliced using a wire.
Knöpfle dish with bacon and herbs.
Maultaschen: Think oversized ravioli and you are fairly close. Quite pale and boring looking on the outside they have a delicious taste inside. A German may describe them as being 'Hehlinge gut' – surprisingly good. Hehlinge is a Germanic dialect word which means secret or concealed. Inside the pale dough hides some very yummy ingredients: spinach, onions, egg, parsley, nutmeg, marjoram, sausage meat, ham, pork, and smoked bacon. The ingredients aren't set in stone though and creativity in the kitchen can reign. Maultaschen are connected to the Chinese won ton, Siberian pelmeni, Italian ravioli, and Jewish kreplachs. Although the Swabians would probably deny this the recipe may have originated from the Tyrollinger Maultaschen from the Tyrol.
Spargel (known as the vegetable of kings) is a white asparagus and can be seen displayed outside many shops in boxes when it is in season in April and May and up to June 24th – the birthday of John The Baptist. That is if you can get near the boxes as veritable crowds form to buy the tasty stalks at their peak. The blanched vegetable is known not only for its sweet taste but according to a herbal written in 1563 “Eating asparagus makes men feel lusty with desire.” Well I never! The bleached asparagus is not allowed to be exposed to the light during the growing period otherwise the sunlight will discolour the tips. Regardless of the colour – white or green – the vegetable will still make your pee smell strongly but is worth it for the fabulous taste. Guten Appetit!

White and Green asparagus.

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