Here is a list of some traditional food and drink in Bavaria. Even though Bavaria is a rather small region, there are regional variations within Bavaria, with both Swabia and Franconia having their own regional dishes and lacking the tradition of some of the other dishes that are mostly Bavarian. The term "Weißwurst-Äquator" (white sausage-equator) originated to jokingly refer to the culinary and cultural differences one experiences when crossing the Danube. As much of the state of Bavaria as it exists today was annexed during the Napoleonic wars, the Bavarian state in its pre-19th century borders is often referred to as "Alt-Baiern" or Old Bavaria.
As for other icons of Bavarian culture, many Bavarian dishes are known around the world as "German", though far from all of them are popular throughout Germany.
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Breads and salads
- Kalter Braten is cold Schweinsbraten (roasted pork) cut in thin slices usually served with bread and horseradish
- Wurstsalat is marinated cold sausage cut in thin slices with onion rings. Note that it is not actually the accepted definition of a 'salad', with no other vegetables other than the onion rings.
- Schweizer Wurstsalat same as above but with cheese.
- Krautsalat mit Speck is marinated white cabbage slices with bacon.
- Kartoffelsalat is salad made from marinated boiled potatoes. It is a common dish in southern part of Germany, but the Bavarians tend to add more vinegar than others. This is vegetarian.
- Obazda (Old Bavaria) or Grupfter (Franconia) is a cheese creme with onions and paprika powder, served with bread or a pretzel.
- Leberknödelsuppe is a typical Bavarian soup with a dumpling from pork liver.
- Leberspätzlesuppe is the same as above, with many small pieces instead of a dumpling.
- Stadtwurst mit Musik is a special kind of pork sausage with onions and marinade
Main courses with meat
- Weißwurst is a traditional Bavarian sausage made from very finely minced veal and fresh pork bacon. As it is very perishable, Weißwurst is traditionally manufactured early in the morning and boiled as a snack between breakfast and lunch. It is served with sweet mustard and bretzels (and a liter of beer if you want to go fully traditional in the morning). Don't eat the thick sausage skin.
- Schweinsbraten, the most common dish in upper Bavaria, is pork served in slices with gravy, accompanied by Knödel.
- Schäufele, a common dish in Franconia, is pork shoulder served with gravy, accompanied by potato dumplings called Klöse.
- Krustenbraten is Schweinsbraten. The people just want to emphasize the great crust that you normally get with a Schweinsbraten.
- Schweinshaxe is grilled pork joint often served as half or quarter Schweinehaxe.
- Rollbraten is pig belly rolled up served with Kartoffelsalat and Brezels. Can be very fattening!
- Nürnberger Bratwurst mit Sauerkraut is probably the smallest among all sausages in Bavaria and has become famous all over Germany. Fried sausages served with sauerkraut is a specialty from Franconia. The Nuremberg ones are the smallest, other Franconian Bratwursts (german plural: Bratwürste) are larger. Original Franconian bratwurst (together with Thuringian ones) have a higher quality standard than those from other German regions. Only meat, bacon, water and spices are allowed, but no slab, giblets and other low quality parts of pigs.
- Leberkäse looks like bread but is a variant of meatloaf. Literally translated, it would be "liver cheese", but there is no liver and (in its pure form) no cheese in it. It has a texture similar to cooked Spam. It is normally served with bread or Kartoffelsalat, and of course, a good mustard. As a quick snack inside a bun it is called a Leberkässemmel in old Bavaria and served with mustard. The Franconian term would be Leberkäsweggla.
Main courses with fish
The carp season lasts from September to April.
- Karpfen gebacken, Deep-fried Carp, a common dish in Franconia and Upper Palatinate, it is served with salad or/and Kartoffelsalat (Potato salad). The price depends on weight. The best time to eat carp are the "months with r" from September to April. While some parts of Franconia have more carps than people (and indeed the carp is a common feature in many a coat of arms in the region), demand is so high that sometimes imported carp from the Czech Republic (also a country with a carp tradition) and farther away is served.
- Karpfenfilet, Deep-fried Carp filet, the fishbones are cut so fine that they become barely noticeable. It is served with salad or/and Kartoffelsalat (Potato salad).
- Karpfen blau, carp is cooked in a spiced vinegar and onion stock, it is served with boiled potatoes, horseradish and liquid butter.
Trout is available all over Bavaria, in the south around the lakes there also are Coregonus, char and other white fish.
- Forelle gebacken, Deep-fried Trout, a common dish, it is served with salad or/and Kartoffelsalat (Potato salad).
- Forelle Müllerin, trout rolled in flour and pan fried, it is served with salad or/and Kartoffelsalat (Potato salad), or boiled potatoes and butter.
- Forelle blau, trout cooked in a spiced vinegar and onion stock, is served with boiled potatoes, horseradish and liquid butter
- Geräucherte Forelle, smoked trout, hot or cold smoked, served with horseradish and bread
- Meefischli is a specialty from the area near the river Main in Lower Franconia. Small fishes rolled in flour and deep fried, it is served with tartar sauce and salad or/and Kartoffelsalat (Potato salad).
- Steckerlfisch is smoked fish, usually mackerel or pike.
- Gwedelte - young herring or mackerel (sometimes trout or other fishes) baked over an open flame, which gives it a smoky aroma. Popular in Franconia.
Although the region is well known for meat dishes, there are vegetarian options to be found in Bavaria:
- Kässpatzen is made of flour, eggs, salt, water and much Bavarian cheese, with fried onions on top. A rather heavy meal. - popular in Swabia and the Allgäu.
- Kratzat is made of flour, eggs, milk and salt.
- Kaspatzen Spätzle is made of eggs, flour, water, salt with sauerkraut, if you want with bacon.
- Apfelkrapfen is made of flour, eggs and apples.
- Reiberdatschi (old bavarian) or Baggers(franconian) a traditional potato pan cake, usually eaten with applesauce or cowberry. Of course it also can be eaten with salmon and kren (horseradish). onions etc.
- Bergkäse (mountain cheese) is a Southern Bavarian cheese - it originates from the Alm Tradition of yore when the cows spent the summer higher up than most people and the milk was made into a savory cheese on site.
These and much other meals are really traditional Southern Bavarian as before 1900 the Allgäu in the south of Bavarian was a poor region, and meat was very expensive for the farmers. However the Allgäu has been - and still is - a dairy region, so cheese is readily available.
There are also plenty of Asian and restaurants that can cater to vegans and vegetarians. Furthermore, vegetarians can consider the numerous Italian restaurants in the region.
- Apfelauflauf is apple fluff
- Dampfnudeln mit Vanillesauce
- Semmelschmarrn mit Zwetschgenkompott is fast-food bread.
- Münchner Apfelstrudel is apple strudel.
Bread, rolls and others
Bavarian bakeries have a great variety of bread and rolls. Bavarian bread is made of rye and wheat flour, Some are more pale, others more dark. Esp. traditional Franconian bread is often made of sourdough, has a crispy crust and may contain spices.
- Brezn (old Bavarian) or Brezel (Franconian) is typical Bavarian and often part of a "Brotzeit". As opposed to North America pretzels always have a soft interior. The brown color comes from a reaction with Sodium Hydroxide. Franconian ones have crispy crust, Bavarian medium and Swabian soft.
- Salzstange and Kümmelstange are a kind of rolls, but long shaped and strewn with salt and caraway. Kümmelstangen have more caraway
- Seele are originally from Swabia but now well-known in all regions. Similar to Salzstange, but larger and made of spelt flour
Some famous yeast based pastries:
- Krapfen originally from Vienna its common all over Bavaria. Strewn with sugar and filled with jam. In Franconia "Hiffenmark" (rose hip jam) is preferred, but raspberry and apricot is also common in Bavaria. A somewhat common practical joke is filling them with mustard instead of jam.
- Küchle are hollow and strewn with sugar. In Franconia they are a speciality at "Kirchweih" (parish fair) and each village tries to have the best.
- Knieküchle (Franconia) or Auszogene (Old Bavaria) are similar to Küchle, but flat and not like a "balloon" as Küchle. The curious name "Knieküchle" comes from stretching the paste over the knees to get them flat, which is allegedly the traditional way.
- Rohrnudeln strewn with sugar. Sometimes filled with plums.
other pastries and cakes:
- Bamberger Hörnchen a kind of croissant which must be made with butter. Its not allowed to use other kinds of fat or grease. Bamberger Hörnla may also refer to a type of potato, but usually it is apparent from context which is meant.
- Zwetschgendatschi traditional old Bavarian plum cake
- Kirschplotz traditional Franconian cherry cake
- Rübenkuchen traditional Franconian cake with carrots
Bavarian beer purity law
The "Bavarian Beer Purity Law" or sometimes called the "German Purity Law" in German "Deutsches Reinheitsgebot" was a regulation concerning the production of beer in Germany. In the original text from 23 April 1516, the only ingredients that could be used in the production of beer were water, barley and hops. German breweries claim to still abide by it, though both yeast and some methods of production in use today (e.g. hop extract instead of hops, filtration with coal) are not mentioned in that law. Ironically wheat beer - one of the things Bavaria is famous for - was unequivocally outlawed by the 1516 ordinance as the rulers wanted people to use wheat for making bread.
The standard serving for a beer is 0.5L, called eine Halbe or a Hoibe (Bavarian), a Seidla (Franconian). Unlike in other parts of Germany, where you can get 0,2l or 0,33l of beer, there is no really "small beer" in Munich or upper Bavaria. If you order a "small beer", you will show that you have no idea of drinking Bavarian beer and get 0.5L anyway. Sometimes, you might be able to get einen Schnitt, which is a normal 0.5L glass filled half with beer and half with foam. Traditionally a "Schnitt" is only served as the last drink of the evening after you have had at least one regular beer.
If you see a restaurant in Upper Bavaria selling beer (except pilsener) in quantities of only 0.3L you should know the only reason why they do this is because they can ask for a higher price (per litre) without you noting it.
Bavarian taverns do usually offer 0.3L servings, but they are considered women's servings. A man ordering such a small serving would probably get a chuckle from the bartender.
There are two main types of Bavarian beer: Helles and Weißbier.
Helles - which literally means "pale" - is the most popular Bavarian beer. It is a type of lager beer, similar to the pilsener, but contains less hop and tastes sweeter. The "Reinheitsgebot" (purity law) allows only water, barley and hop to be used to brew this beer, which is like the Helles is the Dunkles (meaning "dark") that has a stronger taste because it is brewed with more dark (roasted) malt.
Weißbier, literally meaning "white beer", is made of barley and wheat. Because of the use of wheat it is called Weizenbier (meaning "wheat beer") in other regions of Germany, but do not use this word in Munich or Upper Bavaria - the locals insist on using Weißbier. It tastes more sour than Helles. Because the yeast is still in the beer, it looks more cloudy then Helles but it is not lighter in color as the name would imply. If you order "eine Halbe Weißbier", you usually get it in a special glass. Often you will get the bottle and the glass and are expected to pour it yourself. Normally, you do not order "eine Maß Weißbier".
There is also a version brewed with more dark malt with the paradoxical name dunkles Weißbier meaning "dark white beer". The name "Weißbier" has nothing to do with beer's colour. It's foam during fermentation is pale while foam of barley beer is darker. In Franconia and all other regions of Germany, Weißbier is called Weizen (bier).
Other common types esp. in Franconia (north Bavaria) are Dunkles, Märzen and Kellerbier. Kellerbier and Zwickl/Zoigl (from Upper Palatinate) are special kinds of beer with very little CO2.
Normally, in a restaurant, you will order and get "eine Halbe". At festivals in Old Bavaria, you usually get "eine Maß" which is 1 litre. On some (like the Oktoberfest), it is the only quantity you can get. But at festivals in Franconia both "a Maß" or "a Seidla" is usual. At festivals and in beer gardens, it is very common to share "eine Maß" with your partner or a good friend.
Mixed with non-alcoholic drinks
- Radler (meaning "cyclist") is a Helles beer mixed with lemon soda / lemonade. It is considered appropriate to 'cycle' between bars or beergardens drinking this lighter version of beer on a hot day. (The legal limit for a cyclist is 0.13% alcohol in your bloodstream, as opposed to 0.05% for driving a car, in case you were wondering)
- Russn (meaning "Russian") is Weißbier mixed with lemon soda / lemonade.
- Diesel or ein dreckiges (meaning "a dirty one") is Weißbier mixed with Coke. The generic term "Cola-Weizen" is also frequently used, especially in Franconia and among recent immigrants from other parts of Germany ("Zugraßte")
Strangely, nobody sells Helles mixed with Coke.
Popular with young people is eine Goasnmaß (meaning "a goat's Maß"). This is 0.5L Weißbier mixed with 0.5L coke and an unknown quantity of cherry brandy. It tastes very sweet, and you can swallow it like water, but at least it has the quantity of alcohol as does pure beer.
Besides some great breweries Bavaria has hundreds of small and local breweries, most of them in Upper Franconia. Breweries in Franconia lists breweries, beer cellars, brewery museums. They make several types of beer, e.g. Helles, Weißbier, Dunkel, Kellerbier, Märzen, Bock and many more. Often these breweries are connected with an inn (Brauerei-Gasthof in German) and sometimes the brand is only available there and in casks but not in bottles. Starting several years ago, traditional specialties like unstrained "Kellerbier" in Franconia, unstrained "Zwickl"or "Zoigl" in Upper Palatinate, and beers brewed with spelt, emmer or rye had their comeback.
Some Munich breweries are:
- Augustiner is the oldest brewery in Munich, founded in 1328. Though it does no advertising or sponsoring, it is very popular among young people. Maybe this is due to the fact that it is one of the sweetest Munich beers. You find mostly Helles, called "grüner August" or "green August" (Bavarian) by the locals because it has a green sticker on it. Often, you can get Edelstoff too, slightly more bitter than Helles. There is also a Weißbier brewed by Augustiner, but it is served only in a few restaurants.
- Franziskaner the Weißbier section of Spaten. Popular with the locals, young and old.
- Hofbräu Because all the tourists think Hofbräu (and the famous Hofbräuhaus) is the real Bavarian beer culture, there is no Hofbräu beer left for the locals. If you drink Hofbräu beer, you are a tourist.
- Löwenbräu Like Spaten, this beer is not so popular with the younger people.
- Paulaner A popular beer (both Helles and Weißbier) especially liked the elders. Paulaner is one of the few breweries that make rye beer.
- Spaten You will find this beer in many Munich clubs and discos. Nevertheless, the young locals do not really like it.
- Ayinger is not truly a Munich beer because it is brewed in the rural district of Munich, but it is served in some restaurants in the city.
Some other larger breweries:
- Herrn-Bräu Ingolstadt. well-known Weißbier
- Erdinger, Erding near Munich.well-known Weißbier
- Maisel Bayreuth. wellknown-Weißbier
- EKU Kulmbach. another large one with several types
- Tucher Nürnberg and Fürth. Most of their beer is typical "large brewery beer", but they have a very tasty brand: Grüner, an old-fashion Helles brewed in Fürth.
Some typical local or smaller breweries:
- Andechser from Andechs near Munich. A very famous place: Brewery, Abbey and place of pilgrimage.
- Weihenstephan from Weihenstephan near Munich. They claim to be the oldest still existing brewery of the world. True or not, they make very tasty beer
- Hofbräu Traunstein, Flötzinger Rosenheim and Wieninger Teisendorf (Berchtesgadener Land). typical old bavarian breweries with many types of good beer
- Dornbräu Ammerndorf (Fürth district), Hofmann Pahres (Neustadt/Aisch district), Weißenohe Klosterbräu Weißenohe (Forchheim district) and Ott Oberleinleiter (Bamberg district). typical franconian breweries with very tasty beer. Dornbräu and Hofmann are famous for their Dunkel, Weißenohe Klostersud is a very tasty kind of Märzen
- Stadter Sachsendorf (Bayreuth district) and Adlerbräu Schlüsselfeld (Bamberg district). typical brewery inns. Sorry, their very tasty beer is only available there.
- Apostelbräu Hauzenberg (Passau district). Their specialty is spelt beer
- Schlenkerla Bamberg. Their specialty is Rauchbier, a fumy tasting beer that's only brewed in Bamberg
- Weltenburger from Weltenburg Abbey near Kehlheim. An old Abbey, a biergarten, good beer and a wonderful landscape
- Unertel Haag (Mühldorf district) Some people say it's one of the best Weißbier
- Georgenbräu Buttenheim (Bamberg district). Their specialty is Kellerbier, a traditional franconian unstrained pale beer
- Riedenburger Brauhaus Riedenburg (Altmühl valley). Their specialty is emmer beer
Franconia is an important wine region. Most vineyards are along the Main River around Würzburg, Kitzingen, Volkach and Marktbreit, and in Steigerwald (Schwanberg, Rödelsee, Castell). Smaller areas are around Ipsheim (Neustadt/Aisch district), Aschaffenburg, Taubertal and Bamberg/Haßfurt. Franconia is famous for dry white wines. Wines are often filled in Bocksbeutel, a special shaped bottle. Most important grape varieties for white wines are Silvaner, Müller-Thurgau, Kerner and Bacchus; for red wines, Domina and Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir). A rare speciality is Tauberschwarz, an old red wine grape which is only grown in Taubertal (Badenian part of Franconia) and some small adjacent areas in Lower Franconia.
The standard glass of wine is 0,2 or 0,25l. In Franconia you usually order a "viertele" (0,25). Wine is drunken pure, but white wine can be mixed with mineral water, called Schorle.
During summer months there are "temporary inns" in Franconia, called Hecken- or Straußenwirtschaft: Winegrowers offer wine and some kinds of "Vesper"/"Brotzeit". Often these Heckenwirtschaften are romantic places in vineyards and villages.