I’m going to be blunt here, I was deeply disturbed by this one. I kept seeing it in cafes and delis and I’m still to actually try it, no matter in which cute way they present it.
In Northern and Eastern Germany, as well in Berlin, this dish is known as Hackerpeter. Even though you can find it in the rest of the country, Belgium, and the Netherlands as simply Mett.
This dish is a mixture of raw minced pork meat, seasoned with salt and black pepper, usually served on half a bun. The name met also apparently comes from the Old Saxon meti which stand for food. A variety of this dish can be found around the country as Zwibelmett, which is a version that adds chopped onions to the mix.
Even though some are still put off by the idea of it, there is an amazing amount of the population who doesn’t just enjoy having this for breakfast but are crazy about it. They came to a point of even creating the Mettigel, a version of this dish where they mold the meat into the shape of a hedgehog, using black olives as its eyes and nose and form the whole body’s spines with raw onion. (This as well is consumed raw)
Thankfully there is a German law, called Hackfleischverordnung, that makes sure that this is safe to eat. Making it a law for it to be sold only on the day of production, for it be constituted by less than 35% fat and to be stored under 2 degrees. This makes it safe to eat at wherever place you find it, or when in doubt…ask!
On a ‘type’ note:
Harbour is a fairly new font, released in 1998 and showing a clash of latin and germanic typestyles and taking calligraphic forms that derive from writing with quills.
A secret recipe, a war, urban legends and 100 million dancing bears. This is how a poor German worker from Bonn created one the most popular sweets in the world.
Around 1920 Hans Riegel, a poor confectionery factory worker from Bonn, Germany, decided to quit his job and start creating his own hard (colourless) candies, using his wife to deliver them on her bike. This is what’s knows as the beginning of a company called HARIBO (HA-RI-BO / HAns – RIegel – from – BOnn … get it?)
French or German? From the Alsace or South Germany? Rectangle or circle? Tarte flambée or Flammkuchen? This are the questions that for years had the two countries fighting for the title of creator of the Flammkuchen.
The Flammkuchen is a bread dough made without yeast, rolled very thin and baked in a wood-fire oven. It is usually topped with crème fraîche, raw onions and bacon, even though there are different topping depending on the region.
“Die Eierschecke ist eine Kuchensorte, die zum Schaden der Menschheit auf dem Rest des Globus unbekannt geblieben ist.” -Erich Kästner
(The Eierschecke is a type of cake which to the detriment of humanity remained unknown to the rest of the world)
It’s funny how some things get to be named, nowadays we call things for what we are used to call them what we never stop to think the reason. The Eierschecke is a type of cake born in the Saxony and Thuringia regions of Germany.
It consists of three recognisable layers. The base, which is a thin sponge cake or yeast dough. The middle, which is a thick custard made with quark cheese, sugar, milk and vanilla flavouring, and last the top layer, which is a cream made with vanilla pudding, eggs, butter and sugar. The cake is then baked and once done it’s cut into rectangular pieces. This is known as the Dresden Eierschecke.
So… how this little cake gets its name?
In the 14th Century, there was a piece of men clothing by the same name (schecke,) which consisted of a medium-long tunic that was tight to the waist and it was usually used with a belt. This ‘layered’ ensemble was the inspiration behind the Eierschecke’s name.
There are various version of this pastry, some which include chocolate, raisins and even a Freiberger version that doesn’t use quark cheese at all.
On a ‘type’ note:
Eureka is a humanistic typeface family created by Peter Bilak in 1995, it won the ‘best design in the category of type’ at the 19th International Bienale of Graphic Design in Brno, Czech Republic in 2000, and for languages with acents it’s design work particularly well because of each characters size.
Today we are going to talk about the Dampfnudel, and how a tiny bread roll save a whole town from being killed.
A Dampfnudel is a steamed sweet of savoury bread roll that can be served as dessert with warm vanilla sauce and sometimes plum jam. It’s steamed with butter and milk making them buttery on the top and a crispy caramelised bottom.
Many Germans which I’ve spoken to say Dampfnudels remind them of the winter holidays, when they go skiing and get a warm Dampfnudel from the nearest cafeteria, but these little rolls have been here for years, with its first recipe being found in a book from 1811 but dating really since the 1600.
It’s said that once, in the region of Rhineland-Palatinate, in the town of Freckenfeld, a Swedish army entered the town during the 30 year war. They promised to murder everyone and rip the town to shreds unless they were fed. Luckily a baker by the name of Johanes Muck, his wife and his apprentice got to work and with little and basic ingredients such as flour, milk and butter there were able to make 1286 Dampfnudels to feed the army and saving their town.
As a memorial of what happen there is a Dampfnudeltor (Gate) with 1286 little ball-shaped rock to commemorate the baker and the moment the city was spared.
[ extra note: they are quite hard to make…it took me two tries and I’m still not convinced]
On a ‘type’ note:
Dala Floda is fairly new font, designed by Paul Barnes in 2010, it is inspired by the worn and eroded lettering found on gravestones. This is why even thought it seems to pair with other renaissance fonts, it has a stencil feel to it.
Currywurst…Berlin’s favourite dish. So loved by the city that it has it’s own museum… IT’S OWN MUSEUM! dedicated to this dish.
Herta Heuwer is the name of the lady attributed to the invention of the Currywurst in 1945, after she started selling this cheap dish to British soldiers. A typical currywurst consists of a grilled pork sausage (Bratwurst), whole or cut into chunks, topped with ketchup and a mixed of curry powder and spices. Usually is served with french fries and some places will make their own sausages with curry inside the filling as well.
As I said before, this is such a beloved dish that to commemorate it’s 60th anniversary, the Currywurst Museum opened in Berlin and it’s dedicated to it (I should know…I live two blocks from it), according to this museum it receives 350.000 visitors per year and there is an estimate of 800 million currywurst eaten per year in the country.
On a ‘type’ note:
Cooper Black was a predominant lettering style popularized by Oswald Bruce Cooper in Chicago and the Midwest of America in the 1920s, and it exhibits influences of Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and the Machine Age.
I know what you are thinking, ‘Those are Pretzels…with P’, well…. no, actually these soft snacks are called Bretzels in Germany and it is said that its name changed in the USA because there were re introduced by the Pennsylvanian Dutch community. Still in Germany, even though the name varies throughout the region, they are still named with a B: Brezn, Bretzel, Brezzl, Brezgen, Bretzga, Bretzet, Bretschl and so on.
These snacks go way back, some say even to the early middle ages. It is a baked bread, commonly shaped into a twisted knot, complemented with a lye treatment and seasoned with salt. It’s name may derive from the latin ‘bracellus’ or ‘bracchiola’ (bracelet/little arms) that could have to do with its shape.
Even though people still argue about its origin, the Bretzel has (to this day) big ties with the Christian religion. Some say it’s shape resemble hands is prayer or that the three holes represent the Holy Trinity. But the biggest reason yet, is because it’s minimal ingredients made them into a meal that could be eaten during lent season, and they quickly became the Easter and ‘lent meal’ by excellence. Just as we ‘hide eggs’ nowadays, people used to hide Bretzels for kids to find.
Since the 12th century, (mostly in southern Germany) the bretzel has been used by bakers and its guild as an emblem and can be found hanging outside bakeries. It’s usually savoury and can be eaten with butter, mustard or cold cuts. Sweet versions are quite popular in some regions, topped with sugar, chocolate or covered with nuts.
Mythology and traditions:
- New year’s Bretzels: On January 1st, people give each other slightly sweet Bretzels to symbolise good luck and good fortune.
- On the 1st of May, boys used to paint bretzels on the houses of girls they fancied.
- An upside down Bretzel could be a sign of disgrace.
- ‘Bretzel Sunday’ is a festival in Luxemburg were boys would give girls a bretzel to show they were in love with them, in return the girls would give them a decorated easter egg.
On a ‘type’ note:
ITC Bauhaus was designed by Edward Benguiat and Victor Caruso based on the prototype created by Herbert Bayer of the Dessau Bauhaus in 1925. It’s name comes from the Bauhaus movement and Design School created by Walter Gropius in 1919.
Each country has their own special recipes, foods and ingredients. Some which are new, some which date hundreds and hundreds of years. During the first couple of weeks in Berlin I made it my mission to try as many new foods, flavours, dishes as possible (no matter how strange or new they seemed to me)
After a bit of research and in a way of forcing myself into a creative project as well, I’ve decided to create ‘The ABC of German Food’ a typography and photographic project where I research and create photographic pieces on two of my ‘favourite’ subjects, typography and food. For the next couple of weeks/months/howeverlongittakes I’ll be posting a new german dish, all the way from A to Z. So lets start with A!
Apfel Strudel (Apple Strudel)
Even though some will argue that the Strudel is actually from Austria, the Apfel Strudel is a staple in any German household. The word is self, Strudel, derives from the Middle high german ‘Whirlpool.’ It consists of a piece of pastry, filled with a tart apple filling with cinnamon, breadcrumb and maybe raisins, nuts or rum (depending on the recipe) and rolled into a log and baked.
Some say the first recipe ever recorded was found in 1696 at the Wiener Stadtbibliothek (State Library) and it was highly influenced with the Ottoman Empire’s cuisine, specially since the puff pastry typically used in the Turkish baklava was the base for the dish.
A couple of years ago my own grandmother taught me how to make one. You can find the recipe here.
On a ‘type’ note:
ITC American Typewriter was designed by Joel Kaden and Tony Stan in 1974. It retains the typical typewriter alphabet forms, lending the font a hint of nostalgia.