Germany,  Rauen

Pit Wiezer in Rauen, Germany

Rauen
Petra Wiezer
German Goulash

The Place: Rauen, Germany

 

“Rauen’s wounds have healed, and only the scars remain; the long-abandoned mine shafts that puncture the hillsides and remain a hazard to anyone straying too far from the marked paths, serving as a reminder that an ‘old village’ does not necessarily mean unchanging one.”

Read About Rauen

People live life at their own pace 60km east of Berlin in the idyllic village of Rauen, which stands in stark contrast with the intensity of the capital, still visible from the nearby “mountains” on a sunny day. Leaves rustling in the wind mask the sound of any traffic, fields of sunflowers mean that the countryside is splattered with colour even on the greyest of days, and, very far from home, one of Germany’s two herds of American Bison can be found grazing from dawn until dusk. A postcard village, like Lenzen, it seems like nothing has changed here for centuries.

 

But Rauen’s drowzy façade belies the fact that the town has rocketed through countless transformations. From the top of the town’s viewing tower, a structure held in high esteem by local residents, the nearby Scharmützelsee lake can be seen shimmering in sunlight on a clear afternoon. That welcoming water served as one of the hottest holiday destinations for first the Nazis and subsequently the generals and high-ranking officials of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) before East and West Germany were reunited. And if you visited Rauen 100 years ago, rather than fresh country air you might have been greeted with faces dusted with soot and a smog that clogged your lungs. With it’s economic foundations originally entrenched in the coal industry, as the town prospered the environment suffered, and coal mining became the region’s main game. Since that time, Rauen’s wounds have healed, and only the scars remain; the long-abandoned mine shafts that puncture the hillsides and remain a hazard to anyone straying too far from the marked paths, serving as a reminder that an ‘old village’ does not necessarily mean unchanging one.

The view from Rauen's Viewing Tower
The view from Rauen’s Tower


Please note that we do not fact-check our interviewees, and that their views do not necessarily represent our own.

The Person: Petra (Pit), 46, Educator for Children and the Mentally Handicapped

 

“I was born in the Harz mountains in the Eastern part of Germany… I finished school in 1988, and afterwards I was allowed to go to extended secondary school, which was only possible for 10-20% of the pupils in East Germany; no more were allowed… everything turned upside down in the early 1990s.”

See Pit's Full Background

I was born in the Harz mountains in the Eastern part of Germany. We had a lot of Agriculture around, so I grew up with animals. My favourite place was in the pig sty – so I’m still allowed to behave like a pig sometimes. I finished school in 1988, and afterwards I was allowed to go to extended secondary school, which was only possible for 10-20% of the pupils in East Germany; no more were allowed. Today, it’s about 60%. I guess it was the influence of my parents, because my mother worked  for the party that ran the government for 45 years, so I think that played a role in getting me in. 

 

I had good marks, though. I actually wanted to either study machine-building or become a lawyer, but at school I was the same as today; I loved to argue and I didn’t accept everything when a teacher said “it has to be this way”. Finally, at the end of class 11, I was told “You. Will. Not. Study. In. This. Country.” You get a sheet of paper that says if you’re allowed to study, and I did not get one. So at the beginning of class 12, I gave back my pass for the youth organisation [the ‘Freie Deutsche Jugend’, or FDJ] – almost everybody had to be in the youth organisation. Some Christians avoided it, but on the first day of class in the last year of school I went to my headmaster and said “here you are, I don’t want to be a part of the youth movement anymore.” He screamed “I’ll kick you out of my school! You are not worthy to learn in a socialist school! We did so much for you and now you disappoint us!”.  But it was the year 1989, so everything was moving. People escaped from Easter Germany and went to Poland, Hungary, Austria and West Germany. There was a lot of trouble in the country. So I was allowed to stay at the school to finish because people were leaving.

 

I completed extended secondary school, but I stopped working hard – I knew I was not allowed to study at university so why bother? At this point in time I had a boyfriend who was working with mentally handicapped people, so I got in contact with people working in his field and decided “well, that’s it!” I wanted to become an educator for mentally handicapped people. After finishing school, I worked in a home for the mentally handicapped to see if it was the right job for me. Actually, I wanted to start school and training for it then, but everything turned upside down in the early 1990s. They said “We don’t know, maybe we’ll keep the school, maybe we will close it down. We don’t know what will happen.” So I went for one year to England. I had some trouble with my boyfriend at this time, and we separated… a bit. So it was best to go to England and do some work as an au paire.

 

I completed a course for English as a foreign language at Oxford College of further education. In Germany, nobody knows what “college of further education” means, they see ‘Oxford College…’ “OH! You’ve been studying in Oxford!” After I came back, I got back with my boyfriend again in Potsdam. I asked for work at a big home for the mentally handicapped, and the pastor there  picked up the telephone and said “hello, I have another student for you, I will send her to you, she will be in tomorrow.” So where do I have to go now? I went to Fürstenwalde [the town next to Rauen], and there I learn in a seminar and become a professional educator for handicapped people. When got there I thought it’s such an ugly town. Just awful. I arrived, and a car stopped next to me and asked for my price… the second time I came here it happened again! I didn’t think I looked like “a girl from the street”… I was not amused.

 

When I began studies, I’d spend a few days in Fürstenwalde, and a few with my boyfriend in Potsdam. I did my training, and at the end of it, sadly, my boyfriend died. At this point, I knew Svein already. Everything which happens has a purpose. Now I am here with my two lovely sons, and my husband, Svein, and I enjoy life. Svein has been the mayor or Rauen for 10 years now. When we decided to buy this house in Rauen, I told him “one day, you’ll be the mayor of this village.” He said “you’re crazy!” But it happened!

 

What is home to you?

“Home means having a safe place, and a place that I like to come back to again and again.”

See Pit's Full Answer

Home is a place where I feel comfortable, the place where I meet the people I want to see. Home means having a safe place, and a place that I like to come back to again and again.

 

What was it like to grow up in the German Democratic Republic (GDR – East Germany)?

I didn’t suffer, but in the late 1980s, I realised there was something wrong… People disappeared, people were punished or put into prison without any reason… there was a stupid newspaper, the ‘Bildezeitung’… They printed an article with all the names of unofficial informants for the secret service. Many people discovered the names of their friends and neighbours.”

See Pit's Full Answer

In Eastern Germany, we were not allowed to watch Western TV, but we lived so close to the border of West Germany that we weren’t able to get the GDR programs, so we had to watch the Western programs. We got an impression of the world in Western Europe. We saw advertising spots, and were very happy when guests stayed with us and brought us soap or coffee from Western Germany. Coffee was very expensive. 125 grams was more than 8.75 marks. To give you a point of reference, my mother earned 2 marks per hour. West Germany was like a fantasy world for us. My Grandfather had a cousin in Western Germany and she once visited us, and then I realised “oh, they’re ordinary people. There’s nothing special about them.”

 

In my life, I never knew anything else but life in the GDR. We visited the Czech Republic, and in 1978 we spent our summer holidays in Poland. Two years later, something happend in Poland -Solidarność, you may have heard. It was a union that protested against the socialist government, and marshall law was then implemented in Poland, and no one could leave or enter the country. We only knew socialist countries. 

 

We lived in a nice village. My grandparents worked in agriculture, and we had guest rooms in our house; 10 beds in all. All the time we had people visiting, and we had the opportunity to talk to people and get an idea of their lives. We didn’t suffer hunger. I was able to go to kindergarden and school. My parents could go to work. We heard on the Western news that there was a lot of unemployment – we had no unemployment. It was very common to swap things – to barter. You would buy something that you don’t need, but you know someone who needs it. So you could exchange it with them for something else.

 

I didn’t suffer, but in the late 1980s, I realised there was something wrong. My boyfriend at the time was in Potsdam already, and he refused to join army. In the GDR, you have to go to the army, otherwise you’ll be put in prison. Instead he was working in these peace groups, and in the church we had this action group, and there I realised something was wrong. People disappeared, people were punished or put into prison without any reason. I had a patch on my jacket for my action group with the church. Once, I was travelling on the train to school, and two men sat next to me. People from the secret service had a very special type of clothing. Grey and brown suits. And right then I knew: “they are secret service”. They started asking me questions… “oh, you support this action group”. I said “yes, I want a peaceful world without oppression. I don’t want war or fighting.” Shortly afterwards I received the information that I wasn’t allowed to study at university in the country.

 

The people stuck together. We always tried to help each other. Not every method was legal. The house of my parents had new walls put in. This was done by people outside of work, which was not allowed, but everybody did it. The factories were mismanaged, so that was the only way to organise anything. There were many things that weren’t modern or flexible enough to keep our land running.

 

Later on, there was a stupid newspaper, the Bildezeitung. For the Bildezeitung, there was only black or white, nothing in between. They use only 800 words for all their articles, to enable anybody to read them. Most of it is pictures – that’s why it’s called ‘Bilde-’, the word means ‘picture’. They printed an article with all the names of unofficial informants for the secret service. Many people discovered the names of their friends and neighbours, and realised “oh my goodness, I told them things because I trusted them, and they may have passed it on to the secret service”. Many people had to move away after that. On one hand it was a closed and tight community, and on the other you had people spying on you and reporting you to the secret service. That impacted everything; the next step in your career, getting a flat, getting accepted into a school, where your children can study. But every coin has two sides.

 

How was the adjustment after the collapse of the GDR?

“I went to England, and when I came back, I realised what happened to my country… in the GDR many houses were grey. The streets were grey. People were grey. Everything was grey. But suddenly, there was paint and colour everywhere. Enormous advertising posters. I wasn’t able to find my way around even in places I knew before…  One by one, the faces of the cities changed… I came back to a new world.”

See Pit's Full Answer

In summer, 1989, when so many people left the country, I was travelling around the Baltic sea. I had no plans, and I almost missed it! End of August, I came to a singer-songwriter meeting at a church and the pastor said “I am so happy you are still here!” “What? Why shouldn’t I be?” I didn’t realise so many people were gone. I noticed at the beginning, but hundreds of thousands of people left the country, through Poland and the Czech republic, then through Hungary and into Austria, where they could go to Western Germany. So I got the information I needed at the meeting. In 1990 I finished school, and I moved to a village. It was like an island, where everything worked on it’s own, and there wasn’t much influence from the outside, and not much to the outside from the village either. So I didn’t see the effects much yet.

 

I had friends in Western Germany at this point because our school had contacts with a West German school. We were happy in our glass house. Then I went to England, and when I came back, I realised what happened to my country. Things changed. First thing I noticed, in the GDR many houses were grey. The streets were grey. People were grey. Everything was grey. But suddenly, there was paint and colour everywhere. Enormous advertising posters. I wasn’t able to find my way around even in places I knew before, because I was so influenced by all these pictures that my orientation was gone. One by one, the faces of the cities changed. They became more beautiful. There was a lot of reconstruction and rebuilding. Though they destroyed places we’d loved to go. Suddenly there were signs: “private ground, don’t enter.”

 

There are two years missing. I didn’t take part in the actual change because I wasn’t there. First I was in the village, then in England. So I came back to a new world. And it was confusing.

 

How long did it take before you felt comfortable with the new Germany?

“I think this process is not yet complete… at school the students hear everything in the GDR was bad. And I say “no, it wasn’t”. I can say that, because I am a witness… there were bad things, and there were good things… Let’s keep the good things in this new world.”

See Pit's Full Answer

I think this process is not yet complete. There are still some things I can’t go along with. For instance, at school the students hear everything in the GDR was bad. And I say “no, it wasn’t”. I can say that, because I am a witness. I was there. There are young teachers from Western Germany who don’t know GDR times, and I still argue with them. I’m an old lady! Me and my friends now, we have the opinion that there were bad things, and there were good things. You can’t see everything in black and white. Let’s keep the good things in this new world.

 

So when we talk to people from Western Germany, there is still a difference. Even with young people; people who were born in the 1990s who never knew the separation of the country. There is a difference in their thinking, their opinions. Just one example: I told you I was working in a kindergarden. In West Germany, kindergarden works like this: the mothers bring their children for two hours in the morning, pick them up for lunch, and maybe bring them back after a rest for an hour in the afternoon. In East Germany, kindergarden opens at 6.00-7.00am, and the kids can stay until the evening. I had a colleague from the West who was born in 1993. One day she told me, “I can’t cope with it. I can’t cope with the fact that the children spend more time in the kindergarden than with the parents!” And she quit the job. She said, in Western Germany, they spend very little time in the kindergarden, and that’s fine. They use it to make friends and meet other kids. But she didn’t understand or accept the system of an ‘educational kindergarden’, starting in the morning and ending in the evening. For some families it, would be better if they could have more time with the parents. But sometimes that doesn’t work. When there is a single mother or a single father, they work in Berlin, they have to work all day, and they have to commute. So the best way is to keep the children in the kindergarden. They have their friends and they know the grown-ups. So, you can see there is still a difference between Eastern and Western Germany.

 

What is special about Rauen?

We had a man in our village… In his head were all the stories about the people of Rauen for the last 1,200 years…for example there are two families and they will not talk to each other. Nobody knows why, except for him… There are lots and lots of people who are interested in the community. I think this is very special about Rauen.”

See Pit's Full Answer

Many small places like this are what we call a “cow’s village”. It means people don’t think about many things, just sit in the surroundings and don’t see anything else. But in Rauen, you will find many interested people. They like to help each other, and have ideas. For instance, we have a viewing tower. It was the idea of a couple of old men. There was a wooden tower years ago, and one day it was destroyed. These men collected money for years and years and now we have this beautiful tower where you can see the whole countryside.

 

There is the old lady’s club. Most of them are widows, and now they have a lot of time to spend volunteering, and it’s so enormous what they do for the village. One of them runs a pub, which was once owned by her mother. The building was sold, but her son-in-law bought it back, and she collected all the old decorations and made it look like it did 80 years ago. She does it just for fun. And she invites people to stay with her.

 

We had a man in our village – he died last year, unfortunately. He was still quite young; 54 – who collected any old stuff in the village. In his head were all the stories about the people of Rauen for the last 1,200 years. Sometimes you have silly stories; for example there were two families and they will not talk to each other. Nobody knows why, except for him. Maybe the great, great, great, great grandmother on one side, stepped on the great, great, great, great grandmother of the other side by accident whilst dancing. They still don’t talk to each other. He knew all the stories, and had old letters from the 17th century; the Parish asked for money from the king to repair the roof of the church. The king wrote back “well you can see God much better when you can see the sky!” In German ‘sky’ and ‘heaven’ are the same word. He had this so-called ‘heimachstauen’, like a museum. He opened it for everyone, and did a lot of activities there and sold cake and Eisbein. I was there with my spinning wheel, and I was winding baskets there for people to watch. He was one of the most important people in this village.

 

So there are lots and lots of people who are interested in the community. I think this is very special about Rauen.

 

What have you learned from living in Rauen?

Half of the inhabitants of Rauen came from other places to the village. So you have the old Rauen people, which was a very closed community, but because of all the new people, this community was cracked. Now there are new connections and you can be yourself.”

See Pit's Full Answer

I should have changed a few things to get in touch with Rauen inhabitants, but I didn’t. For instance, I don’t go out that much. I made friends with other people only through contacts in the kindergarden. I think I am still as I was in the city. We try to be ourselves, and now it’s accepted. Half of the inhabitants of Rauen came from other places to the village. So you have the old Rauen people, which was a very closed community, but because of all the new people, this community was cracked. Now there are new connections and you can be yourself. The only important thing is: you have to say “hello” to everyone you meet in the street. That’s something I was familiar with in my childhood, but in the city it was always harsh; you meet someone, you look at them, but you don’t say a single word. And now I have this back like in my childhood.

 

Where is your favourite place outside of Rauen and Germany?

“England… I lived in Oxford city centre, and all the neighbours came from different parts of the world. I lived with a Turkish family, and a few years before I had become a vegetarian… Funny thing was I never said before when I would come, I just turned up and knocked on the door, and it worked! I didn’t have a telephone, I just went to Oxford and that was it.”

See Pit's Full Answer

England. I liked the mixture of the people.  I was living with an Irish family, and there was a wonderful lady in the neighbourhood – Mrs. Cooper. I made friends with her, and her favourite sentence was “I’m not nosy, just interested.” I loved that. She moved away to her son and she still remembered the time we spent together. It was so easy to get in contact with her again. Later, I lived in Oxford city centre, and all the neighbours came from different parts of the world. I lived with a Turkish family, and a few years before I had become a vegetarian. So, I realised there is much more to eat than a bit of cabbage and some apples. There were people from Pakistan, Lebanon… it was a mixture of all these cultures, and I really enjoyed it. There were also the colleges and the wonderful green landscape. It was really an amazing time, and I managed to go there every February in the following years when there was the spring break. Funny thing was I never said before when I would come, I just turned up and knocked on the door, and it worked! I didn’t have a telephone, I just went to Oxford and that was it.

 

One year, my boss said “we are moving to Switzerland. You are right on time because everything needs to be packed.” So we packed for 3 weeks. A year later I visited them in Geneva. She said “Oh good, you’re here. The boxes still need to be unpacked.” So I unpacked all the stuff I packed the year before. I met very interesting people, because my boss was working for the Red Half-Moon, the Muslim equivalent of the Red Cross, and her friend was working for the UN.  But Geneva was not as nice as Oxford. It was very… ‘anonymous’. Not even the postman was allowed to know I was there because I wasn’t registered – it was Swiss rules then that everyone had to be registered. I went to a Sunday service, and wanted to give some money for the collection, and they were passing an envelope. You were supposed to put your name on it and how much money you were putting in. That was something I didn’t understand. So England was the most exciting place. 

 

Can you think of a time you have been proud of Rauen?

“…there is a former hotel in the forest. Someone bought it… for a nationalist nazi party to set up a school for young people there. A lot of people in the town organised protests… the building went back to the old owner.”

See Pit's Full Answer

Several times to be honest. The first thing was that there is a former hotel in the forest. Someone bought it, and just afterwards it came out that he bought it for a nationalist nazi party to set up a school for young people there. A lot of people in the town organised protests, and it became possible to get rid of the contract with the new owner. So the building went back to the old owner.

 

Now we have a discussion at school, and so many people are spending time and energy to protect our school, which some people want to close, to enable the children to go to school in their village. They go to the government in Potsdam, write protest notes, and organise demonstrations. That’s power. There are 11 people in the village council, and seven of them want to close the school, which would mean 140 students lose their school.

 

What is your main concern or worry about Rauen?

“In all the society in Germany, people’s political opinions turn to the right. You may have heard about Pegida demonstrations against immigrants. They hunt immigrants and they kill immigrants.”

See Pit's Full Answer

In all the society in Germany, people’s political opinions turn to the right. You may have heard about Pegida demonstrations against immigrants. They hunt immigrants and they kill immigrants. In Rauen, there are many people with the same opinions. There are only very few foreign inhabitants in Rauen, and it’s a little hard to talk to people who thik only German way of life is the correct way of life.

 

What is the best thing to ever come out of Rauen?

“We had a wonderful minister of the county… Manfred Stolpe… and his colleague in social resources, Regina Hildebrandt… They put the county in the right direction. After the reconnection of Eastern and Western Germany, the structure of the country was completely renewed… these two people influenced the politics until today.”

See Pit's Full Answer

We had a wonderful minister of the county – his name was Manfred Stolpe. He is still alive, and is now living in a home for the elderly – and his colleague in social resources, Regina Hildebrandt, who died a few years ago from breast cancer. I think these two people gave the most positive influence from Brandenburg to the world. Regina Hildebrandt was fighting for her ideals. They were left-wing and progressive. They were put in government right after the establishment of the county of Brandenburg. I met the daughter of Regina Hildebrandt just a few months ago, and she is just the same. She works in education and she, too, is a fighter. They were personalities. They put the county in the right direction. After the reconnection of Eastern and Western Germany, the structure of the country was completely renewed. Before we had sixteen ‘berzirke’, which were like counties, and out of these we got five counties. So everything needed new organisation. Everyone had to give ideas to the county, and these two people influenced the politics until today.

 

What is something outsiders wouldn’t know about Rauen?

100 years ago there was a lot of coal mining here, and some of the tunnels have been located, but not all of them. So it is pretty dangerous to leave the marked paths, because you might fall into one of the old tunnels which are still unknown.”

See Pit's Full Answer

Our mountains… they look like a swiss cheese. 100 years ago there was a lot of coal mining here, and some of the tunnels have been located, but not all of them. So it is pretty dangerous to leave the marked paths, because you might fall into one of the old tunnels which are still unknown. Many of them are filled up with the ashes from chimneys, but some of them have not been found, so those ones are not filled up. So our mountains are not massive, but like a cheese with lots of holes in them.

 

What do you eat during the Holidays here?

“We are in contact with the butchery that produces buffalo meat specially – my son works there. It’s the best meat you can have. I can tell you as a vegetarian; I have never tasted it, but I can see the texture, I can smell it, and when I sell it I touch it. I don’t mind handling buffalo meat even though I’m vegetarian. These animals grow up in the countryside, they don’t get any extra medicine, and they were killed with one shot.”

See Pit's Full Answer

On Christmas eve, we have potato salad and sausages. My boys eat sausages with meat, and I eat vegetarian sausages. But it has to be potato salad, sausages, and mustard. Many people have this meal. It’s easy to prepare, which is good because there is a lot of other stuff to be done; we get our presents in the evening of the 24th. On Christmas day we just eat. My husband prepares meat; usually buffalo, which is not too typical for Germany. Why do we have it? We have the chance to have it. We are in contact with the butchery that produces buffalo meat specially – my son works there. It’s the best meat you can have. I can tell you as a vegetarian; I have never tasted it, but I can see the texture, I can smell it, and when I sell it I touch it. I don’t mind handling buffalo meat even though I’m vegetarian. These animals grow up in the countryside, they don’t get any extra medicine, and they were killed with one shot. No transport, no nothing. It’s the best meat you can have. We use every piece of the buffalo, so nothing is wasted. The animal dies not just for the meat but for the fur and everything else. The owner of them originally had a few American Bison for fun. The group grew, and he started slaughtering them for meat. Rearing them was a hobby for him. It’s actually a tourist attraction. People come to see them… and it’s exciting for the newspapers when they escape.

 

So Svein cooks that, and sometimes he makes Roulade. You take a long piece of thin meat, spread mustard on it, put diced ham on it, salt, pepper, some bread crumbs some sour cucumber. You roll it, and fry it in the pan, until the outside is very brown and then you put it into the oven for at least two hours. This gives you a wonderful meal to go with some potatoes and vegetables. Sometimes he also makes goulash out of the meat, too. On the second Christmas day, Svein prepares beef. And on the last day of the year, he usually makes fish salad, which is a German tradition.

 

What is your favourite and least favourite German Dish?

“Because of my vegetarian lifestyle, I’m not too much in touch with local and national food… My least favourite is Totu Oma – Dead Grandma… A brown, fatty puree. The boys have it at least twice a month, especially when I’m not in, and I can smell it for days.”

See Pit's Full Answer

Because of my vegetarian lifestyle, I’m not too much in touch with local and national food. There are a few dishes I prepare with tofu insttead of meat. I love goulash made of tofu. My kids grew up with vegetarian meals, and one day the older one, Clemens, came home from kindergarden, and said “Mummy, we had Goulash at kindergarden today, but there was meat in it. He was surprised! He knew meat because his father and grandparents cooked with it, but he was very surprised to see it in goulash. So my favourite variation of German food is goulash, though that’s originally Hungarian.

 

My least favourite is Totu Oma – Dead Grandma. It’s so disgusting. My husband loves it. You know the sliced meat you put on bread? We have a brownish one with white and dark brown bits in it, and this is mad out of blood, tongue, fat and fillet of the meat. My grandfather used to make it especially for me when I was young. You can heat those ingredients up, and it becomes like a puree. A brown, fatty puree. You put a lot of herbs on it, especially mayoran, and you serve it with sauerkraut. With our wooden spoons, there is one only for this dish because it’s so smelly you can’t use it for anything else. It looks so awful, too. I’ve never actually tried it, but I hate sauerkraut, and I hate the heated blood sausage. The boys have it at least twice a month, especially when I’m not in, and I can smell it for days.

 

Reccomendation:

“German goulash. The Hungarian style is much more spicy. There is an extra meat in ours… but this is a special recipe of our butcher  – before you cook it you marinate it to make it more salty.”

See Pit's Full Reccomendation

German goulash. The Hungarian style is much more spicy. There is an extra meat in ours, which is beef, but this is a special recipe of our butcher  – before you cook it you marinate it to make it more salty. So it has some more flavour. And the rest is pork and beef. You add different vegetable like leek, carrot, onion, celery and garlic. Sometimes people put tomato in it as well. Whatever you need, and if there are more people coming, you just put extra vegetables in it.

 

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The Plate: German Goulash

“To be honest, there’s not much you can get wrong with Goulash. It’s a forgiving and flexible recipe that allows for the occasional slip-up… a crowd-pleaser that should satisfy even the fussier among us… but I will risk German culinary patriots tutting at me by saying that, if you tasted the Hungarian and German versions on different days, you’d be forgiven for failing to notice the difference…”

Read About German Goulash

Yes, I know, Goulash is originally a Hungarian dish, but I was reliably informed that Germany has given it it’s own spin. To be honest, there’s not much you can get wrong with Goulash; it’s a forgiving and flexible recipe that allows for the occasional slip-up without ruining the meal. That’s not to diminish the dish; it’s a crowd-pleaser that should satisfy even the fussier among us. I will risk German culinary patriots tutting at me by saying that, if you tasted the Hungarian and German versions on different days, you’d be forgiven for failing to notice the difference. As I write this I’m struggling to come up with what sets them apart. Granted, where a hint of spice may be detected in it’s Hungarian counterpart, German Goulash offers a sweet aftertaste and a thinner consistency. The extra meat that Pit referred to is certainly saltier than the rest, but when it’s all mixed together with the other ingredients that saltiness gets somewhat lost in the stew. It’s hearty, filling, and seems like it would be more fitting on a crisp winter’s day than in the heat of summer. So if you enjoy traditional Hungarian Goulash, Germany’s take on it is a very reliable option, even though it claims to be wildly different.


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Heiko Berg in Lenzen, Germany

Attempting to cycle from Tromsø in Northern Norway to Baku, Azerbaijan while interviewing locals en route. Despite my chequered history with bikes, here’s to me returning home with an intact facial structure and at least as many body parts as I left with.

2 Comments

  • Stephanie

    After reading all of the German interviews, I can understand why my parents made the food they did. Lots of pork, potatoes, sauerkraut, and apples. I guess some things don’t change even after being in the US since the mid 1800s!

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