The scope of Germany’s offerings extends far beyond the country’s most popular exports. From its sweeping vistas to its unique and regional gastronomy, Germany is comprised of regions just waiting to be discovered, which is why we were honored to delve deeper into German culture and cuisine at a recent event in partnership with the German National Tourist Board.
Perhaps most famous for the ominously named Black Forest that cloaks its eastern side, the German state of Baden-Württemberg boasts a staggering number of superlatives. This region is nestled in the country’s southwestern corner, features the lowest unemployment rate, is the third-most populous, has the most solar installations, and — perhaps, most importantly — offers the most Michelin-starred restaurants. Cuisine is more than just a specialty here; it’s a lifestyle.
Residents of the region have historically been protective of their land, which features dense forests, fertile river valleys, and alpine foothills, and shares borders with the German states of Rhineland-Palatinate, Hessen, and Bavaria, as well as France and Switzerland. When the Roman Empire invaded in the early centuries A.D., the Allemani tribes of Württemberg spent decades forcing the Roman troops back across the Rhine and Danube rivers. Eventually, the region was incorporated into the Holy Roman Empire, and it wouldn’t be until the years following World War II that the states of Württemberg-Baden, Württemberg-Hohenzollern, and Baden would merge to form the present-day state of Baden-Württemberg.
Today, Baden-Württemberg is a popular holiday destination for Germans and international tourists alike. From the brilliant modern architecture of its capital city, Stuttgart, to the pristine countryside of the Upper Neckar Valley, the beautiful region attracts visitors seeking to be enchanted by its magical lands and cityscapes.
In the southern city of Freiburg, travelers can also discover the sunniest metropolis in the country, a perfect base from which to explore the traditional villages of the Rhine Valley wine country, go hiking in the nearby Black Forest, and ascend into the Alps for skiing in the winter. Between the central cities of Mannheim and Heidelberg, they can traverse the scenic Bertha Benz Memorial Route, which traces the path of the first long-distance automobile journey. And in the mesmerizing expanse of the Danube Valley, they’ll happen upon the photogenic Hohenzollern Castle, whose fairytale spires have served as the backdrop for many an Instagram shot.
Like many German regions, Baden-Württemberg knows how to celebrate. With spring and autumn come the arrival of the beer festivals, the most famous of which is the Cannstatter Volksfest, a three-week celebration in late September and early October. Also known as the Stuttgart Beer Festival, the Volksfest is the second-largest beer celebration in the world (after Munich’s Oktoberfest), attracting roughly four million visitors annually. It’s about much more than just the brews, however. More of an all-around autumnal fair, the event includes an Alpine Village, a parade, fireworks, agricultural exhibits, and amusement park rides.
But, of course, no overview of Baden-Württemberg would be complete without a taste of the foods that give the region its distinct flavor. In the city of Baden, you’ll find dishes rich with hearty vegetables and salty meats. It’s here that you’ll discover the beginning of the famous Badische Spargelstrasse (Baden Asparagus Route), a path that cuts through the region’s lush asparagus fields. Along the way, you can sample the area’s famous white asparagus, as well as other delicious dishes such as badische schaüfele (smoked pork shoulder) and bubespitzle (potato fingers made with flour and mashed potatoes).
Many of Baden-Württemberg’s most popular meals draw from Swabian influences. Spätzle, a type of noodle made from flour, water, salt, and eggs, is served either as a side dish in place of potatoes or rice, or as the base in a more traditional dish such as käsespätzle — hot noodles with onions, German Emmentaler cheese, and Bavarian mountain cheese. Another popular Swabian dish is maultaschen, German dumplings of a sort that are modeled after Polish pierogies. The pockets of dough are stuffed with spinach, meat, or cheese before being added to a broth or soup, or eaten on their own as a main course.
Perhaps the most well-known culinary area in Baden-Württemberg is the Black Forest, which is famous for its ham, cherry brandy, and, of course, chocolate cake. The Black Forest Cake, also known as schwarzwälder kirschtorte, is filled with cream and cherries soaked in a special cherry schnapps called kirschwasser. It is then decorated with fresh cream, cherries, and chocolate shavings, making it as rich and elegant in looks as it is in flavor.
The sights, smells, sounds, and tastes you’ll experience in Baden-Württemberg are truly one of a kind. With its lively festivals, enchanting forests and villages, and heavenly cuisine, this is a region that understands how to have a good time.
This was evident at our events in both New York and Los Angeles, where visitors enjoyed dishes and drinks from the region, one noting that “It’s been really exciting to learn where these dishes come from and how they’re made…. It makes me more excited to travel to Germany to try them and to explore!”
If you’d like to enjoy a taste of Germany, try your hand at a traditional dish from Baden-Württemberg.
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This content was produced in partnership with German National Tourism.