This article is dedicated to those who love to visit places not only with the eyes but also with the taste and to those who wish to continue to enjoy the typical products even once they return home. We therefore leave you a series of ideas for your souvenirs or on the unmissable specialties of this land, we hope you will find it useful.
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Kougelhopf – The Alsatian turban
The Kougelhopf is one of the typical Alsatian sweets that you will see in the windows of all pastry shops, in many different variations and sizes. It has a turban shape, with a central hole, given by the particular cake pan that you will find in every Alsatian souvenir shop. The original version consists of a soft leavened dough enriched with raisins, almonds and scented with rum. In the past it was the classic dessert for holidays, but today it is eaten for breakfast, as a snack or even during aperitifs (in a savory version).
Pain d’épices – Spiced bread or gingerbread
It literally translates as “spice bread“, but also “gingerbread“, but it is nothing more than a cake composed of a base of rye and wheat flour to which honey and spices (cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, etc.) are added, including sometimes ginger. The Pain d’épices is native of the Alsatian town of Gertwiller and its highly aromatic mixture makes it a recipe typical of the Christmas period, but if you want to take it home, you will find it in the windows of the Alsatian bakeries all year round.
Tarte flambée – The Alsatian pizza
The tarte flambée (here you can find our step-by-step guide to making this recipe at home), or flammkuchen in German, is a savory Alsatian specialty that resembles a pizza. It is a mixture of flour, water and oil rolled out in a very thin way and garnished with a cream based on sour cream, onions and bacon. The meaning of its name suggests its origins: the bakers used to bake the tarte flambée before the bread to check that the temperature inside was the correct one. The “flamed cake” was then placed between the burning wood and had to be cooked in 15 minutes, this was an indication that the oven had reached the optimum temperature for baking bread. This practice meant that in the villages people gathered and shared the tarte flambée in an atmosphere of great conviviality. Today as in the past, this recipe in its many variations will surprise you.
In French cuisine, the quiche is a type of savory pie baked in the oven consisting mainly of a base of shortcrust pastry with an eggs and crème fraîche filling. The possibility of adding different ingredients (vegetables, meat, fish, spices, cheeses, etc.), allows to obtain different tasty variations. The most famous is the quiche lorraine made with eggs, crème fraîche and bacon, but if you add the onion then it becomes the alsacienne quiche. You will find several shops where you can buy cakes by weight, so you could buy a single slice to have lunch while walking or the whole pie, to take back home and share with family and friends. In the artisanal bakeries you could find both sweet and savory cakes…for the choice let yourself be guided by your instinct!
Mannele – The gingerbread man
This is the name of the little man-shaped cookie made famous by the cartoon Shrek. More precisely, it is a sweet dough shaped in the shape of a little man that is sold in all Alsatian bakeries and pastry shops in different variations (soft and elastic like a brioche, crunchy like a biscuit, aromatic and spicy like a pain d’epices, compact like a marzipan, etc) and often recurs in the form of decoration for homes and shop windows. The Mannele is related to St. Nicholas holyday and is offered as a gift to good children. Legend has it that St. Nicholas returned the lives of 3 children, who had been cowardly killed by a butcher, while sleeping, to rob them. Since then, St. Nicholas became the protector of children and every year on the 6th of December he used to go around the streets dressed in red and with the bishop’s tiara, giving pain d’epices in the shape of a little man (the Manneles) and other sweets to good children.
Bredele – Christmas biscuits
They are the typical Alsatian shortcrust biscuits prepared during the Christmas period, to be eaten for breakfast and as a snack or given as a gift. They have classic shapes like hearts, stars, snowflakes or other Christmas themes, it seems that in the past they were used as decorations for the Christmas tree. The shortcrust pastry dough can be flavored with coconut, cinnamon, citrus, cocoa or other spices and dried fruit. Tradition has it that they are not consumed before Christmas Eve, so they are found especially during the Christmas period in markets and bakeries but can be purchased throughout the year in specialized shops (or alternatively online and from the comfort of home).
The name literally means “seasoned sauerkraut” and is a meat dish, typical of Alsace. In fact, the sauerkraut is left to ferment for several weeks, when it is ready is cooked in a pan with wine, after which different cuts of pork are added, such as sausages, wurstel, bacon and various aromatic herbs (juniper, coriander, bay leaf) and let it cook. Finally, the potatoes are prepared separately and will be added to the dish at the end. You can try the choucroute in restaurants or take it home as a souvenir in the form of a preserve in a glass jar.
Our article ends here and we leave you with a question that you will have to answer at the end of your stay…what kind of Alsatian dish did you like the most? We undoubtedly the tarte flambée. Did you prefer sweet or savory specialties? Leave us your comments to tell us about your culinary experiences in this wonderful land.
See you soon
You may be interested also in:
- ALSACE – Romantic canals and picturesque half-timbered houses: here’s Colmar
- ALSACE – The most beautiful fairy-tale villages a stone’s throw from Colmar
- ALSACE – The step-by-step recipe of the Alsatian Tarte Flambèe
- ALSACE – Real places that inspired the fairy tale of “Beauty and the Beast”
- ALSACE – One day itinerary between Strasbourg and Obernai