Friday, August 14, 2015

Spreewald, Germany

On the way back from Świebodzin we stopped off at Spreewald.  The Spreewald is about 100 km (62 miles) south east of Berlin.  It's a great place for nature lovers.  It's a 484 km² (187 miles²) of woods with over 200 small canals. 

In 1991 it was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.  It is home to about 50,000 people and around 18,000 species of flora and fauna.

It is also home of the best pickles in the world!  You can't go wrong with a Spreewäldgurken.  There are mustard flavored, Senfgurke, and salt pickles, Salzgurke, but my favorite ones are the dill pickles, Gewürzgurke.

The magic formula is a secret.  There are only about 20 picklers but they account for the vast majority of pickles sold in Germany.  Spreewäldgurken are so popular that when Germany reunified, it was one of the few East German products that continued to be available without any disruption.

Another treat is Schmalz which is basically lard.  Yes, lard.  Actually it is rendered goose (or pork) fat and spread on dark bread.  It sounds crazy but it is really good, especially with a dash of salt.

The rendered fat is often flavored with onions or apples.  Griebenschmalz is the best as the lard contains cracklings.  It's good but you definitely need to do two weeks of cardio to compensate for it.

Schmalz is also popular in Austria.  In Poland it's called smalec.  The Czech equivalent is sádlo.  I don't think it is as popular here as it is in Germany or Austria.  I only tried the Czech version once and did not like it at all.  But to be fair, what I had here was store bought and in Germany I've always had delicious homemade Schmalz.

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