The Braunschweig region is full of culinary specialties. Some are curious, others so rich in tradition that they are inextricably interwoven with the centuries of economic history of the cities. One thing is certain: on a culinary journey through the region, you will not only enjoy the delights of the palate, but also learn a lot of interesting facts. Well then - have a good trip and above all: bon appétit!
Table of contents
1. All mumme or what?
2. From the old man's drink to the scene liquor Jägermeister
3. Potatoes and beer from the district of Gifhorn
4. Award winning chocolates in Peine
5. Currywurst and 3-star cuisine in Wolfsburg
No other specialty has such a long tradition in Braunschweig as Mumme, a non-alcoholic malt extract that was initially used to brew strong beer. The first documented mention of Mumme beer dates back to the early Middle Ages, to 1390 to be exact. Due to its high nutrient content, the beer served as provisions for the seafarers of the Hanseatic fleet. Another advantage: The double Mumme, as the strong beer was also called, had an extremely long shelf life by the standards of the time and for a long time was the only beer product in the world that made it as far as India and even the Caribbean without any loss of quality. And so Braunschweig beer became an export hit even far from the European borders. For a time, the Mumme was even the most important export of the city of Braunschweig, which had achieved considerable wealth in the Middle Ages.
Over time, the beer became a non-alcoholic beverage that could even be bought in pharmacies as a tonic and medicine. Incidentally, even the seafarers appreciated the health-promoting effect of the Mumme, which was used on the long crossings as a remedy against scurvy.
Today, the Braunschweig Mumme can be used in many ways: As malt extract, it is added to many dishes, and it is also available again as beer. Extract, beer and other Mumme specialties such as Mumme mustard or Mumme liver sausage are available in the farm store of the Mumme brewery or in the Tourist info available. The fact that the people of Braunschweig are proud of their product becomes clear once a year when the city center is transformed into the "mummegenussmeile": In Braunschweig's restaurants you can taste sophisticated Mumme specialties and at the market stalls you can buy everything from Mumme almonds to coffee specialties with Mumme.
Of course, you can also experiment in your own kitchen with the traditional Braunschweig product that tastes like malt. Recipes for Mumme dishes, such as Mumme goulash or Mumme brownies, can be found at here.
Another export hit from the Braunschweig region, this time from Wolfenbüttel, is Jägermeister. Even if the herbal schnapps was considered a somewhat stuffy "old man's drink" for a while - since the 1990s at the latest, the stomach liquor has advanced to become a trendy beverage. Incidentally, Jägermeister with the iconic deer logo is also popular outside Europe, for example in the USA and in many Asian countries. In China, it is called Ye Ge, which means wild character and thus fits the image of the product from Wolfenbüttel not only onomatopoeically. The strong herbal schnapps was invented by Curt Mast in his father's vinegar factory. The entrepreneur's son experimented a lot and for a long time ... until he then produced a recipe with 56 herbs in 1934, which has remained unchanged to this day.
And this is how you can experience the Jägermeister culinary:
During a guided tour of the plant, you can watch the distillers turn cinnamon, cardamom, and other spices into an alcoholic herbal brew that must mature for several months in mighty oak barrels before it can be bottled in the distinctive green bottles. By the way, the exact Jägermeister recipe is top secret. Nevertheless, you'll learn a lot of interesting facts on a guided tour: for example, that the schnapps is subjected to a whole 383 quality tests from production to the product ready for sale.
Get all info about the factory tour here.
The district of Gifhorn in the Lüneburg Heath is home to a little bit of the German soul. This is because it is home to two culinary specialties that shape the German image worldwide: beer brewed according to the German Purity Law and the German potato. The latter even earned the Germans their nickname. Yet the tuber has South American roots. The nightshade plant did not become native to Germany until the 18th century, after "Old Fritz" had potato fields planted in Brandenburg and guarded by Prussian soldiers - a ploy to make the "exotic" crop palatable to the farmers, who initially viewed it with suspicion. In the meantime, Lower Saxony has become Germany's best-known and largest potato-growing region, and this is where the coveted Lüneburg potato comes from. You can buy the yellow tuber locally in farm stores or at weekly markets, for example in the new "Farm stores", in which the Gifhorn Gaus-Lütje potatoes are available (also now corona-compliant open!). Incidentally, the potatoes from Gifhorn also go into the chips packs of Lorenz Snack World, founded by Hermann Bahlsen in Hanover and the first company to produce chips in Germany according to the American recipe.
The brewery town of Wittingen, where beer has been brewed since 1429, is also rich in culinary tradition. The family-owned Wittinger brewery is one of the oldest private breweries in Germany. Six centuries later, people still like to drink the Wittinger Original, a mild, caramel-tasting beer whose recipe is based on the traditional brewery's first beer.
Anyone interested in the taste and history of Wittingen beer can pay a visit to the family-run brewery. After the approximately one-hour guided tour through the brewhouse, you can of course taste the beer. Don't worry, it won't be on an empty stomach, because in addition to various types of beer, you can feast on a slaughter platter and other appetizers. You can find all info here.
In Peine, Lower Saxony, there is also a speciality or, to be precise, two: the praline Mettwurst "Süße Mette" and the sweetened Mettwurst "Lüddeke's Schokomettwurst Schokolinski". Admittedly, the combination of sausage and chocolate does sound a little strange. But as we all know, it's the unusual ideas that succeed and promise success. And indeed: In 2021, the "sweet mead" won first place at the DLG awards for the second time in a row.
Sold the award-winning praline and chocolate-sweetened sausage in Lüddeke's farm store, which includes its own butcher shop. Other specialties are also produced there, such as ham with walnut or pear. By the way, the ham production is real manual work, from the maturation in the salt crust to the air-dried and smoked ham takes several weeks. And even the pears and other fruits that go into the sausage specialties come from the farm's own garden.
Audi, Tiguan, Golf - in the VW main plant Wolfsburg cars come off the production line. And curry sausages: Since 1973, the car manufacturer has been producing the classic snack in its own butcher's shop; in the beginning, even the meat came from the company's own pigs. In the meantime, the meat is supplied, but the sausage remains a canteen cult. The first portion of curry sausage is served at the first breakfast break at eight o'clock. The "Currybockwurst" can also be bought outside the VW plant, for example in the stadium of the Bundesliga soccer team VfL Wolfsburg, or in souvenir stores and supermarkets, where it is available as a "Volkswagen Genuine Part. The highlight: With around 7 million curry sausages sold each year, the world's largest car manufacturer produces more curry sausages than cars from the core VW brand.
But enough about currywurst with fries - because Wolfsburg is actually Lower Saxony's center of top cuisine. With the Gourmet Restaurant Aqua at the Ritz-Carlton is even located in Wolfsburg one of the ten best restaurants in Germany. Perhaps even more impressive: in 2021, Aqua received the highest rating in the Michelin Guide for the thirteenth time in a row and, with its 3 stars, is one of the 50 best restaurants in the world! Incidentally, the name "Aqua" alludes to chef Sven Elverfeld's style. Despite the extravagance of the 3-star cuisine, it is characterized by simplicity: The guest should be able to taste, in the spirit of "purity", the genuineness of each individual product.
Admittedly, you have to be able to afford a 3-star meal. If you want to spend less on fine dining, you're in good hands at Wildfrisch in Rittergut Nordsteimke. At the annual "kitchen parties," you can even recreate modern European cuisine yourself together with chef Jörn Finkenbrink. This year, a live stream moves the party into your own kitchen. You can find more info here.
Cover photo: While guests enjoy 3-star cuisine at the AQUA Ritz Carlton, they look out over the water and park landscape of the Autostadt Wolfsburg © Uwe Spörl
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