A Brief Primer on
According to many Alsatians, the reason the Romans occupied Alsace for so long was because they loved the cooking! Alsatian food is simple, hearty and unique. Alsatians love to eat. French writer Michel de Montaigne once wrote that Alsatians care more about their dinners than their dwellings and that even the smallest meals take three or four hours and consist of six or seven courses.
Alsatian cuisine benefits from both the French and German traditions, a combination that has led some to describe Alsace as the “most mouth-watering region in Europe.” Good food can be found everywhere: from the simplest roadside winstub to the the many Michelin-starred restaurants. (Alsace typically ranks as France’s most-starred region.)
A Few Staples of Alsatian Cuisine
Fish is a surprisingly popular ingredient in Alsatian dishes. Sandre, a pike-perch found in local rivers, is commonly used. Carp and pike also find their way on menus. Truite à la meunière is trout seasoned and rolled in flour then fried in butter and served with lemon and parsley. Truite bleue is fresh trout boiled in vinegar and vegetable stock and served with a light reduction sauce. Matelote is a stew of freshwater fish and eel.
Literally, “baker’s oven,” baeckeoffe refers to rich stew of wine, beef, lamb, pork, potatoes, carrots and onions cooked in a crock, like choucroute. It was so named because in olden days housewives would cook the stew in their cooling bread ovens after they’d baked bread.
Tarte Flambée is baked on a wafer-thin crust of dough in wood-fired oven, much like pizza. Rather than tomato sauce and cheese, it is topped with shreds of bacon, chopped onion and sour cream. Also known as flammekueche, this tarte is generally served in the evenings.
The most famous of Alsatian cheeses. Munster is a moist, golden cow’s cheese and is made in the mountains. It can be eaten with cumin, and is good with a glass of Gewürztraminer.
Pictured above, this large, light cake made with raisins and almonds, baked in a mould, is particularly tasty at breakfast with a large café au lait.
Pretzels that go perfectly with beer, another Alsatian staple. Examples of good beers brewed in the region: Kronenbourg, Mutzig, Pelforth and Fischer.
Nouilles Fraiches and Spatzles
The Alsatians have a surprising fondness for noodles, which come under a variety of names depending on their shape and thickness, much like Italian pasta. They are served with any number of sauces.