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Norddeutsche Kueche - North-German Food

Updated on January 27, 2016
Take daily life, make it funny and present it in Plattdeutsch!
Take daily life, make it funny and present it in Plattdeutsch! | Source

A different Germany

I was born in Hamburg and fiercly claim my North German heritage. But, having grown up somewhere else (my Father always joked that we were missionaries civilizing the 'South'. He really didn't care much for the Frankfurt area and their horrible Hessian slang.), I have to shame myself by saying that I only understand a little Platt, but don't speak it at all!

Platt is a language, not just another German slang. And a way of life!

A little history:

"Low German or Low Saxon (Plattdüütsch, Nedderdüütsch; Standard German: Plattdeutsch or Niederdeutsch; Dutch: Nedersaksisch in the wider sense. See Nomenclature below.) is an Ingvaeonic[1]West Germanic language spoken mainly in northern Germany and the eastern part of the Netherlands.

The historical Sprachraum of Low German also included contemporary northern Poland, the Kaliningrad Oblast of Russia, and a part of southern Lithuania. German speakers in this area were expelled or murdered after the post-World War II boundary changes. The former German communities in the Baltic states (see Baltic Germans) also spoke Low German. Moreover, Middle Low German was the Lingua Franca of the Hanseatic League, and it had a significant influence on the Scandinavian languages."

Wikipedia contributors. "Low German." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 13 Oct. 2011. Web. 19 Oct. 2011.

"The Hanseatic League (also known as the Hanse or Hansa; Low German: Hanse, Dudesche Hanse, Latin: Hansa, Hansa Teutonica or Liga Hanseatica) was an economic alliance of trading cities and their merchant guilds that dominated trade along the coast of Northern Europe. It stretched from the Baltic to the North Sea and inland during the Late Middle Ages and early modern period (c. 13th–17th centuries).

The League was created to protect commercial interests and privileges granted by foreign rulers in cities and countries the merchants visited. The Hanseatic cities had their own legal system and furnished their own protection and mutual aid. Despite this, the organization was not a city-state, nor can it be called a confederation of city-states; only a very small number of the cities within the league enjoyed autonomy and liberties comparable to those of a free imperial city.[1]

The legacy of the Hansa is remembered today in several names, for example the German airline Lufthansa (i.e., 'Air Hansa') and the Hanze University Groningen in the Netherlands."

Wikipedia contributors. "Hanseatic League." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 18 Oct. 2011. Web. 19 Oct. 2011.

Hamburg (like Luebeck, Bremen and a few others) is a Hanse-Stadt. And with the German pride and our a bit special status, we are what a few friends call 'Full of it'! Germans are proud to begin with and I am even more proud that the language still survives today.

My father, disliking Frankfurt and requiring us to speak 'High German' rather than Hessian slang that butchers the German language, loved North Germany. He always joked that the Balkan started South of Hamburg Harburg, a town to the South of Hamburg itself.

Hamburg has a great history and so much to give to any taste. The 'Neue Flora' (New Flora) was build to present 'Phantom der Oper' ('Phantom of the Opera'), 'Cats' could be enjoyed, a theatre named 'Ohnsorg Theater' plays funny plays out of daily life in Plattdeutsch, clubs, restaurants and other entertainment rounds it up.

And the food is a bit different too!

This looks good, but it is 'Sauer'!
This looks good, but it is 'Sauer'! | Source

Sauerbraten aka Sour Roast

This is an aquired taste and not for everybody. But it is typical North German and I couldn't just leave it out!

My Mom uses 'Dicke Rippe', which translates into 'Thick Rip'. Here I have to guess that you can use a pork roast to achieve the desired taste.

Cook the pork on low flame for roughly 90 minutes with diced onions, a bit vinegar, mustard, black pepper and sea-/'herb- salt. Remove the fat, chop the meat in small chunks and add a bay-leaf or two (depending on size). Add cloves, a bit sugar and cook for a while.

Take it from the stove and let it cool down. Remove any fat that may have accumulated on the top. Season with a bit white wine.

You can add some diced hard-boiled eggs and chopped fresh parsley. Add white gelatin and let it thicken.

My Mom serves it with 'Bratkartoffeln' (fried potatoes).

This is Gourmet Stye! And yes, it is actually a 'Eintopf' (Stew)!
This is Gourmet Stye! And yes, it is actually a 'Eintopf' (Stew)! | Source

Birnen-Bohnen-Speck aka Pears-Beans-Bacon

Dice the bacon and cook it for about 15 minutes in water. Add the chopped green beans and cook for another 15 minutes. Lay the peeled or unpeeled pears on the top (make sure to wash them first!) and let it cook for another 20 minutes.

Remove the cooked pears carefully and thicken it with starch (I am not very good at it and always do it in a separate bowl in cold water and making my son stir it 'high speed'.). You can also use mashed potatoes.

Season with black pepper and salt and add fresh chopped parsley as garnish. Garnish with the cooked pears.

You can also add peeled potatoes (tiny/small ones) wrapped in bacon as garnish.


This is something I never in my life had to eat! But it is as North German as it is possible!

And it looks almost Gourmet!
And it looks almost Gourmet! | Source
This is so funny and so typical of true North German humor!
This is so funny and so typical of true North German humor! | Source
This is one thing Americans seem to not have discovered yet... The proper way to eat fish!
This is one thing Americans seem to not have discovered yet... The proper way to eat fish! | Source

As North German as the Language - Fischbroetchen

This is easy... and not so easy!

You have to have a real bun... AUTSCH! Sorry! A Broetchen! Just a bun will not do! A real Broetchen has a soft inside that we kids used to dig out, smear butter on and eat!

You take your Broetchen, cut it open, layer fresh lettuce, tomatoes, onions and pickle slices on it... and add any kind of fish you like to eat! Some use mayonnaise for shrimp and crab-meat, but it is up to you. I really don't need a dressing, but that would be personal taste. I did have it with both Horse-Radish sauce and some fish-specific sauces before.

The most common fish used is sauer herring, smoked eal or any other smoked fish, shrimp and even deep fried octopus rings. It was soooooo good!

One of my Dad's manager classes had them do some crazy stuff. One was to be walking around in a hotel in a bath rope and knock on people's doors to ask them to be allowed to use their shower. Another (I am sure he still does it today for fun!) was to ask in different NON-FOOD stores for a Fischbroetchen! ....I guess if you can do that, you can do anything!

You gotta love it!

It's a work in progress and I doubt this article will ever truly be finished. We North Germans are a different breed; and a tough one!

One day I will try to learn my own language. Platt is not as musical as Gaelic, Irish or Scottish, but it has a beautiful sound to it.

These people aren't just different like the Rednecks; they were formed by the rough seas and an often even rougher life up there. But like other true Nordic people, they didn't just walk away when the waves got a little high.

Am I proud to be one of them? Hell yeah! I wish I could have grown up where I truly feel connected to; and learned to speak like I belong!

I felt out of place in a lot of ...places. Sometimes it was because people weren't exactly as welcoming to the girl from a Country that was once run by a Austrian High-school drop-out that couldn't even hold a real job. The sh.... he did still follows us Germans. Despite the fact that his followers made only a tiny percentage of the German race!

If you ever have the chance, take a trip to North Germany and dive into a history that is mixed between German and Nordic influences. And enjoy some of the great things I so fondly remember. It isn't only about vacations on those beautiful islands ( and long rides on the beach ( that form everlasting friendships. It's a experience you just have to have one day!


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    • rjsadowski profile image


      6 years ago

      Awsome Hub. Makes me want to visit Hamburg and northern Germany. I was in the south of Germany several times to Munich, Stuttgart, Phorzheim, Worms, Wurzburg, Trier throughout most of the wine country, but I never got to the North. Now I see the error of my ways.

    • Borsia profile image


      6 years ago from Currently, Philippines

      Another thing about Blankenese is that during the war the British and Americans made a joint decision not to bomb it so that they would have a nice place to set up after the war.

      Its a great place to sit and watch the river traffic while sharing a beer and a snack with friends.

      Sadly it is almost impossible to get a cold beer,,, lol.

    • Cat R profile imageAUTHOR

      Cat R 

      6 years ago from North Carolina, U.S.

      I don't think it changed much. History is important to Germans, despite their ability to look into the future and survive.

      I found this and thought you may find it interesting:

    • Borsia profile image


      6 years ago from Currently, Philippines

      Hi Catr I had the good fortune to spend 2 weeks in Hamburg back in the early 80s. Contrary to what some have tried to tell me the German People were incredibly friendly to this American.

      There was one thing about the food that I though was funny at the time. It seemed like everywhere I went they had several versions of Rump Roast on the menus, but rarely did they offer other cuts. Driving through the countryside I expected to see some odd breed of cattle with huge rumps.

      The other thing that was odd was, at least at that time, no signs were allowed along the roadside. I was with local German friends and they seemed to just turn off the main roads almost at random. After going some distance we would come to what might be just a big home but would be a restaurant.

      I loved the Blanc Nessa (probably spelled wrong) area so rich in history. I also loved the way that where ever possible during the rebuilding after WWII they had kept the outsides of buildings true to their original form and rebuilt the inside.

      This was over 30 years ago almost a decade before the wall came down so it may have all changed by now, but I hope it hasn't.

    • bayareagreatthing profile image


      6 years ago from Bay Area California

      I enjoyed the introduction to some very interesting foods. I have a strong German heritage and it is always fun to learn more about ancestral customs.


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