Europe has given us some of our most beloved breakfast traditions, from lattes to Nutella. Whether you prefer to nibble a French croissant or a Danish pastry, chances are you’ve enjoyed something with continental flair to start your day. But one of Europe’s best-kept secrets happens to be of the breakfast variety, enjoyed by many and spoken of like a legend. Say hallo to the German breakfast.
German cuisine is known for being heavy, hearty fare. This is the country that gave us bratwurst, schnitzel, delicious mustards, and Bavarian pretzels. So even if you haven’t heard about the wonder of German breakfast, it may come as no surprise that they know how to do the morning right. Breakfast in Germany is a far cry from the light and simple breakfasts found in some places on the continent—a mere baked sweet and thimble of espresso. The German breakfast is a veritable table-sized feast of delight, and it will put your weekend brunch to shame.
A traditional German breakfast (called Frühstück) is all about both quantity and quality. The components are familiar and simple—meat, fruit, coffee. But it’s the sheer amount of them that will make your mouth water. It’s designed to keep you full into the afternoon despite none of the individual parts being all that heavy. It’s made for nibbling, breaking off hunks of bread to smear with jam and top with cheese or meat.
The bread can be rolls or slices of hearty, crusty loafs. You could even throw some pretzels in there, if you have a taste for salt in the early hours. Spreads are crucial; sweet jams and honey, plus butter, are a must. Marmalade, preserves, and butter all deserve a place on your table. For the cheese, curds or hard cheeses fit the bill, depending on what you prefer. The meat can draw from Germany’s amazing liverwurst, Schlackwurst (a salami), or sausage. If you throw some bacon into the mix, no one will begrudge you.
And that’s not even the end of it: Boiled eggs and fresh fruit are common additions, as are smoked fish and yogurt. All of this is piled high on one table, primed and ready to be enjoyed over a long, leisurely morning of mixing and matching. It will likely not come as a surprise that this full breakfast is more of a weekend event, while during the week cereal and other grab-and-go options are preferred.
The German breakfast has a lot going for it. The wide variety of foods make it ideal for those who prefer snacking to sitting down to a full meal, and it’s versatile enough to be composed from just about anything you have hanging around. All the pieces should be safe to leave out for a couple hours, rather than wolfed down while hot like an American breakfast.
But this is summer, and for everything German breakfast has to offer, there’s one thing that will likely set it apart: simplicity. Aside from hard boiling some eggs and heating up a pot of coffee, there’s no cooking that goes into a German breakfast. It’s just a matter of taking things out of the fridge and arranging them on the table. It’s perfect for hot mornings, and doesn’t take a whole lot of active time to put together, so you can enjoy your relaxing meal rather than rush to make it happen. What more could you ask for on a summer weekend?