Travelblogue: Food from the Christmas market

As we move into 2010, I’m taking a final peek back at 2009 with a post of my visit to a German Christmas market or Weihnachtsmarkt in December.

The tradition of the Weihnachtsmarkt in German and Austrian towns dates back to the middle ages, in the 1500s or so, when farmers and craftsmen capitalised on the festive season to sell more of their wares; and townsfolk congregated regularly in the square to socialise during the festive Christmas advent. The desire to eat, drink, and be merry surrounded by other people hasn’t much these last hundred years and I think it’s a charming way to celebrate the cheer of the season.

The one I went to in Esslingen (which is a ‘suburb’ town just outside Stuttgart) is a beautiful medieval market that originates from the town’s centuries-old past. In one section are the contemporary stalls selling Christmas decorations and knick-knacks, and in the other is stuff devoted to the middle ages – where people wonder around dressed in robes and capes and cloth shoes and you can buy things like hand-spun wool clothes, armour, weaponry, real leather-crafted jester shoes (random yes, but there is a market for it somewhere…)

I just wandered around for the food and drink…what better way to spend a cold winter’s day than drinking a warm Gluhwein (wine mulled with cinammon, nutmeg and other spices) or a cup of mead (honeyed wine) and getting tipsy with good friends? Mind you, it was -13 degrees (C) on one of our visits there and I’d have to say, Gluhwein or not Gluhwein, I preferred getting tipsy in comformt of a warm bar.

A cup of Gluhwein, a cup of Mead. There’s even a Gluhwein Special with Amaretto, Cherries and Whipped cream – luxurious!

Pay a dollar extra for the cup and carry it around the market with you, while having it filled at the various Gluhwein stalls. Return the cup for a refund.

For the longest time, after reading about it in fairy tales and Chaucer, I’d wanted to know what the **** Mead was. And now I know…It’s sweet, with a faint fragrance of honey, and a strange tinge of fruity acidity from the alcohol.

Besides snuggling with your partner, another way to stave off the cold would be to EAT! Lots of hot food to be found …..grmphrrrhrmpghhurirueuiworu….

No time for hugs or snuggles. Just give me my Zwiebel Steak (Steak and Onion sandwich)

Beef steak charred on a giant pan (hung from a giant tripod over a wood fire), then simmered in a savoury, sweet sauce of onions and served in a toasted focaccia triangle…Just look at the char marks on the steak…crispy bits of carmelised goodnesssss…

…but tender…oh so tender on the inside…notice the fat on the bottom left corner…

The other popular things are Sausages, Roasted potatoes, and strangely…Bread-on-a-Stick. The dough is wrapped around long sticks which are then ‘baked’ by placing them near a large wood burning fire. Every German I spoke to swore by Bread-on-a-Stick, and I don’t doubt it can taste good (as a good bread can) but honestly I just think it’s a bit of a waste of calories to just eat plain bread on a stick…why not add a sausage inside or some ham?

The guys from this stall make their living by travelling round medieval markets selling food and gluhwein…amazing!

Roast potatoes with sour cream, served in an edible wafer boat – waste not, want not!

See the perfectly crisped skin of the sausage? That’s how it should be done all the time.

Some other snaps from around the Christmas market….Sayonara Esslingen! See you in 2010!~

An alternate view of the fountain in the square

About Mizdee

Food, food, food. Apart from love, it's the other thing that makes the world go round. When I'm sad it's a comfort, when I'm happy it's a celebration and when I'm not hungry, it's just greediness. But hey! Why not? Life is short too pass up a good meal.

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