Try these 5 peculiar foods in Germany

Pork knuckle Aspic | Photo by Darius Dzinnik
Pork knuckle Aspic | Photo by Darius Dzinnik

Try these 5 peculiar foods in Germany

by Julia Cahill
Stripes Europe

Feeling adventurous? Here are the top five most peculiar foods Germany has to offer.

If you feel nostalgic for the savory Jell-O based meals of the American 1960s, modern-day Germany has a food that will take you back to the glory days. "Aspic" is a gelatin-based loaf that is filled with anything from herring to vegetables to eggs to beef, sometimes everything at once. The gelatin itself tastes of vinegar and the mouthfeel is exactly like the sugary Jell-O from all of our childhoods - stuffed with chunks of meat. Even though it could be considered kind of out there, "Aspic" is popular enough with the Germans that it can be found in most German supermarkets. Although not for the texture adverse, I'd recommend trying it. At the very least, it's an experience.  

Mettigel - Raw meat molded into the shape of a hedgehog | Photo by q77photo

Raw pork may be a huge no-no in America, but in Germany, it's often molded into "Mettigel" ("Mett" in the shape of a hedgehog with raw onion spikes) and consumed in large quantities spread over Brötchen (small crusty bread rolls, also called "Semmel"). Risk of trichinosis aside, "Mett" is a wildly popular raw spiced pork dish with a variety of interesting varieties. Butchers here are legally kept to a strict set of rules when handling pork that is destined to become "Mett;" maintaining a certain temperature at all times and a level of freshness that is unmatched in the States. "Mett" is not for the faint of heart but is certainly a fun snack for the more adventurous among us.

Herringssalat | Photo by Maksim Shebeko 


A German favorite for group gatherings and potlucks during the holidays, "Heringssalat" is touted to bring good luck and bountiful wealth for the upcoming year. "Heringssalat" can be found pre-prepared in German supermarkets, and pickled herring is available to sample year-round. Hundreds of recipes also exist online if you'd like to try your hand at crafting the salty, sweet and sour concoction yourself. There are variations with raw apple or jarred beets to make "Rot Heringssalat," and classic versions with onions and pickles; it's truly a pickled fish salad for everyone.

Pork lard spread | Photo by kabvisio 

Not quite what the average American might expect to be spread on two pieces of bread to make a sandwich, "Griebenschmalz" is a chunky pork lard mixed with cracklings (fried pork skin). Commonly found throughout Germany, "Griebenschmalz" is served as a spread on "dinkelbrot" (dark bread) because the bread’s hearty whole-grain flavor can stand up against the savory spread. It is also used as a cooking oil in traditional German dishes and can even be employed as a party dip with fruit. It's heavy, rich, crunchy, greasy, and everything one could possibly want from clarified lard and crushed cracklings. "Griebenschmalz" may not be for everyone, but it's worth a try.

A jar of assorted Salmiak candy | Photo by Amy Mitchell 

This list wouldn't be complete without dessert. Or, well, something like dessert. Black licorice is often a polarizing snack, to begin with. Add some aluminum chloride and you've got "Salmiak," a salty licorice candy-esque treat that is popular all throughout Northern Europe and Germany. Surprisingly, the most common way to buy it here is at your local supermarket. There have been reports of "Salmiakraising blood pressure when consumed in large quantities because of the aluminum chloride in the candies, but regular consumption has yet to cause adverse health reactions. "Haribo Piratos" (a coin-shaped "Salmiak" candy) are nearly everywhere and advertise 7.99% aluminum chloride. The flavor has been described as salty, electric, even slightly sweaty. The only way to find out for yourself is to try it out. 

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