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234 × 156 × 30 mm
384 pages
94 illustrations, 40 in colour
01 Apr 2014
Foods and Nations

Beyond Bratwurst A History of Food in Germany Ursula Heinzelmann

Ask about German food and most people think of beer and sausage, or pretzels and Limburger cheese. However, the 82 million inhabitants of modern-day Germany do not all live exclusively on Oktoberfest fare. In fact, as in most modern countries, Germans have a long tradition of taking outside influences into their cuisine, and there is a wide variety of food eaten within the various regions of the country.

Beyond Bratwurst traces the many traditions that have combined to form German food today. From their earliest beginnings, food and cooking in Germany have been marked by geographic and climatic differences between north and south, as well as continuous cultural influences from bordering countries. The book shows that the openness and receptiveness Germans have shown towards these influences have resulted in the frequent reinvention of their cuisine, and a food culture with a remarkable flexibility. The regional variations of today are based as much on political, cultural and socioeconomic history as on geography: the story of German food includes the back-to-the-land movement of the late nineteenth century and the development of modern mass-market products by Justus von Liebig and Dr Oetker, as well as rationing and shortages under the Nazis, post-war hunger and divisions between East and West.

Beyond Bratwurst describes who eats what, how, where and when in Germany, telling the stories of many German specialities such as beer, stollen, rye bread and lebkuchen, as well as more surprising German favourites.

‘Shortlisted for Fortnum & Mason Food Book of the Year, 2015’ — Award

‘Shortlisted for Guild of Food Writers Food Book of the Year, 2015’ — Award

‘This superb, thoughtful history of German food cuts through the clichés of Oktoberfest beer and pretzels.’ — Sunday Times Food Books of the Year 2014

‘Ursula Heinzelmann’s cultural history of Germany as viewed through the lens of food is as solid as a loaf of rye and yet as light as a Sekt mousse, as moreish as a Bahlsen Leibniz biscuit and as bemusing as a Niederegger marzipan potato. Packing her book with fascinating detail for the historian, gourmet or traveller, Heinzelmann has an eye for a good story and compassionate approach to culinary developments in what we now call Germany, from 500 BC to the present day . . . the images collected by Heinzelmann make the book as aesthetically pleasing as it is informative.’ — TLS

‘There is more to German food than sausage, as Heinzelmann explains in her splendid history.’ — Daily Telegraph

‘As a serious history of food in Germany, Beyond Bratwurst offers an illuminatory (and comprehensive) overview of a remarkably flexible culinary tradition through which eighty-two million people have, over the centuries, reconciled their differences in geography, climate, history and culture.’ — Elisabeth Luard, The Oldie

‘A new book on the history of German food arrived in my mailbox the other day . . . I picked it up, poured a glass of Riesling and started leafing through it. Before long, I was hooked . . . Through the pages of this clearly written and well-organized history, we can follow the craze for coffee and then sugar . . . And who knew that in America, until the end of the Civil War, itinerant krauthobblers, cabbage-shredders, went from door to door slicing cabbage for homemade sauerkraut? Heinzelmann knows that and much much more.’ — Los Angeles Times

Beyond Bratwurst is an important contribution to the history of German food . . . an excellent book . . . beautifully printed on heavy paper with dozens of color and black-and-white illustrations, as well as extensive footnotes and a very good bibliography. It is a thorough, well researched, and very readable work that is destined to become an important reference for historians. Highly recommended to anyone interested in Germany, culinary history, or social history in general.’ — German Life Magazine

‘an essential work for anyone interested in German foods and cooking and how they have developed through time.’ — German Cookbook Review

‘Reaktion Books continues to expand its presence in the world of food studies with a new series,Foods & Nations. Its first two titles relate to Germany and Italy, both are worth the purchase and your close attention. Nicely produced, with Reaktion’s usual attention to the melding of words and image, they will each provide a thought-provoking launchpad for the curious . . . The great quality of this book is the humane education of its author which allows wide terms of reference and plenty of allusive comment. She is also very revealing about the spread of German food beyond its borders, particularly in the United States. %e whole subject is one that has been rarely addressed and the books importance is therefore redoubled.’ — Petits Propos Culinaires

‘Heinzelmann goes into great detail throughout her 345-page anthology, demonstrating that Germans have been adaptable, deprived, and struggling in times of war, but resilient in the times afterwards in developing and maintaining German food culture. While it may be hard to pinpoint a German national dish or shake the public opinion that German food only consists of beer, pretzels, and sausage, Heinzelmann’s anthology illustrates that the complicated history of German foodways consists of so much more. The book is a must-read for graduate students interested in food culture and history, as well as for food historians and anthropologists, as it dives so deeply into the German people and why they eat what they choose to eat.’ — Food, Culture and History

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Ursula Heinzelmann is the author of Food Culture in Germany (2008) and a regular contributor to Slow Food and Gastronomica  among other publications. She trained as a professional chef and holds a sommelier diploma from Hotelfachschule Heidelberg. She lives in Berlin.

Introduction: German Food: A Complex Dish
1. From Gruel to Sourdough Bread: The Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages
2. Fresh Meat and Lac Concretum: The Roman Age, 1st Century BC to 5th Century AD
3. Christianity, Social Stratification and Medicine: The Early Middle Ages, 5th to 11th Century
4. Luxurious Feasts and Terrible Famine: The High Middle Ages, 11th to 14th Century
5. Butterbrot and Saffron: The Late Middle Ages: 14th to 15th Centuries
6. German Food Writing: The Early Modern Period, 1500 to 1648
7. Coffee, Sugar and Potatoes, 1648 to 1815
8. Potatoes without Salt and Soup Kitchens: Pauperism, 1815 to 1871
9. Stock Cubes and Baking Powder: The Industrialization of Food, 1871 to 1914
10. Hope and Hunger, Volkornbrot and Swedes, 1914 to 1949
11. Kasslerrollen and Toast Hawaii: Post-Wart Indulgence, East and West, 1949 to 1990
12. Spaghetti and Rouladen: Regionality in a Globalized World, Reunited Germany since 1990

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Photo Acknowledgements