One delicious dish that is unique to Germany is Käsespätzle. Käsespätzle is essentially the German version of a mac and cheese. Not only did I order this dish from an authentic restaurant, but I also had the opportunity to prepare it with a local cook at the guesthouse I stayed in. The ingredients are pretty simple: flour, eggs, water, onions, cheese, butter, and spices. Cheese variety can vary greatly, but Emmentaler is definitely a popular choice. The basic pasta dough ingredients are mixed together. This involves a very large amount of stirring, which was the task that was given to me. While this is being done, onions are fried in a pan separately and the cheese, butter, and spices combine in a sauce. Then, an instrument called a “Spätzlehobel” is used to form the noodles. The “Spätzlehobel” resembles a grater with larger holes. The dough is pressed through it and dropped into boiling water to create small, oval shaped disks of noodle. These are scooped out after only a few minutes and mixed with the cheese sauce and grilled onions. Breadcrumbs and crispy onions may be added as a textured garnish. It is typically served in a hot pan or dish.
A good Käsespätzle is one with the best ingredients. If the dough is not made from scratch, it will have a more packaged, unrefined taste to it. The same rule applies for the cheese sauce. A powdered or canned cheese is very much frowned upon for addition to the Käsespätzle sauce. Käsespätzle is very important to German culture. Much like the American mac and cheese, Käsespätzle is considered the ultimate comfort food. It is best enjoyed during the winter months, but is eaten year-round. It is both a main dish and a side dish. Considering the richness and carb-loaded nature of Käsespätzle, it is usually served with something light like a fresh salad. It is also eaten among the people of nearby Switzerland and Austria, especially in the Alps. Originally a dish prepared by peasants, Käsespätzle is now enjoyed by nearly everyone who calls Germany and the surrounding regions home.