Ask Germans what they miss above all else when they go abroad, and there’s one answer sure to pop up: Bread! Now wonder, if you look at the shelves of a typical German bakery, as in the photo below.
Bread is not only a significant part of German Cuisine, it literally sustains their culture. According to the bread register of the German Institute of Bread, there are 3,200 officially recognized types of bread in the country, and German bread has since been designated an official UNESCO intangible cultural heritage. There are more bakeries, and more varieties of bread in Germany than in any other country in the world.
German bread is unlike any other bread known to Europe. It is dark, chewy and dense, composed mainly of whole grains, such as rye, spelt, and millet. Wheat is taking a back-seat compared to other countries, where it is the dominant grain, resulting in lighter, whiter and starchier (and less healthy) bread types. Rye is in fact more nutritious than wheat and it grows in colder climates, lending itself to cultivation in the North.
Rye contains less gluten and therefore requires longer fermentation time. The result is a distinctive sharp, almost sour flavor that some people consider an acquired taste, but it’s beloved in Germany. Rye- and spelt-based breads have a coarse, compact, and dense texture, which is a significant deviation from bread in the rest of Europe.
Bread in other European countries is predominantly white and fluffy, without much substance. German bread on the other hand is filling and full of flavor. You just need a couple of slices to feel pleasantly full, but not stuffed as when you eat white bread.
Bread is so engrained in German culture that it keeps appearing in German vocabulary all over the place. Germans call break-time “Pausenbrot” or “Brotzeit”. Dinner is called “Abendbrot”. “Broterwerb” is a common expression for earning a salary. “Verkauft sich wie warme Broetchen” is a German metaphor describing fast-selling items. If that isn’t proof enough that Germany runs on bread, some of the biggest stars on TV are… you guessed it, Brot! A talking loaf named “Bernd das Brot” is a popular character.
So, next time you are in Germany, visit one of the countless bakeries on every street corner and see for yourself why German bread really is the best in the world.
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