Very special bread!

Many mixed breads and rolls shot from above.

When not only one’s heart begins to wander but one’s body eventually follows, one of the items that one misses most when roaming abroad are baking goods. They are different not only in each country but in every region. Let’s look at some German bread specialties.

I understand if foreigners don’t get the idea of Schwarzbrot. My English husband says it’s the devil’s food, and he would only use it to cobble his shoes. Admittedly, I never eat Schwarzbrot on its own. But I love it as an ingredient of one of the best sandwiches ever. Try this: half a white Brötchen with butter and a slice of young Gouda cheese (and it’s pronounced gow-dah [ˈɡaʊdə], not goo-dah [ˈɡuːdə]) topped with a slice of buttered Schwarzbrot. This is Rhineland regional. I grew up on it. (If you don’t love it, Schwarzbrot is really not for you.)

Of course, bakeries in Germany also sell ‘imports.’ Pretzls are not ‘German’ per se, but they come from the country’s southern regions. Bavarians and Swabians will dismiss most of the pretzels sold elsewhere as insufficient. Also, Germans love croissants. But, dear French, don’t expect the French utterly buttery fluffy crispy type. Germans need more substantial croissants.

When I lived in Sydney, there was a German bakery in one of the shopping centres (QVB). As it turns out, German bakeries are a thing. Every self-respecting city in the world now has at least one of them.

And, to top the German-bakery theme off, I love this little story. When travelling in India, my husband went to find a Rough Guide-recommended German bakery in the city of Varanasi. After a longish period of time, the over-obliging Indian staff apologised for his wait and explained that they were preparing to cater for the Dalai Lama (‘Very special day!’). Being familiar with some Indian people’s tendency to, let’s say, amplify certain aspects of a story, Mr K was not inclined to believe the tale. But when the German owner of the bakery confirmed the Dalai Lama was going to visit a nearby village, my husband and his companion decided to go and have a look. They told their tuk-tuk driver they were going to see the Dalai Lama. The tuk-tuk driver looked at them with an incredulous and slightly patronising grin. All three of them stood in a large crowd and, eventually, they did indeed see the Dalai Lama and waved at him frantically (using the opportunity that arose when the ten-odd rows of people in front of them bowed in humility) until he waved back. On the way back, their tuk-tuk driver, overexcited and eyes all a-glow, kept repeating ‘Very special day!’

Next week, it’s all going topsy-turvy. Very special week!

The Pommes Buddha says: Don’t sneeze when eating pumpernickel.

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