Ahhh, German Christmas markets. Little else can compare in terms of festivity, cheer, and pure excess. I first happened upon them a few years ago, and since then they haven’t changed a bit – just as it should be. The term “market” is somewhat misleading – it implies there are lots of things to buy. While you can get beautiful handmade wooden ornaments, winter woolies, kitchen gadgets, and jewelry, most people come for one reason – drinking and eating. As such, here’s some favorite treats which shouldn’t be missed:
(1) Sugared nuts: The most overwhelming smell at the markets, in a very very good way. Caramelized sugar wafts all around the nut stands and entices buyers to buy various forms – but the classic is almond.
(2) Nuremberg Lebkuchen (gingerbread) or Fruchtebrot (fruit bread): Nuremberg is considered the capital of Christmas gingerbread – converting even the most devoted gingerbread hater. This stuff is soft, rich, buttery, spiced, and delicious. The same is true for the fruit bread – I considered myself a hater off all things related to Fruitcake before trying this – I was instantly converted. Made with plump juicy dried fruits, nuts, spices, and what I interpret to be loads of butter, it’s a treat anytime of the day.
(3) Donuts – hot from the fryer and dusted in sugar.
(4) Savory Winter food: Such as:
- Grunkohl (a North German specialty of kale cooked with bacon, served with sausages and potatoes)
- Sauteed Mushrooms with cheese sauce
- Speckkucken: Literally, bacon cake. Need I say more?
- Sausages: Bratwurst, Currywurst, little Nurembergers. . . there are many varieties.
(4) Crepes: Perhaps borrowed from France.
There are many many more things on offer, and everyone grabs what they want, huddles near a fire with their Gluhwein, chats, laughs, and enjoys the best time of the year 🙂