Next Monday, August 5, German Bite, the first part of a BBC program by celebrated English chef, cookbook author, and TV presenter Rick Stein, will air in the UK. In the hours after the announcement was posted on the Facebook page of The Seafood restaurant, his famous first restaurant in Cornwall, I had fun watching the comments pouring in.
There was, of course, mention of the inevitable Currywurst, Bratwurst, sauerkraut and spaetzle. One commenter wrote it will be interesting to see “the magic Rick can achieve with sauerkraut and bratwurst!!!”, while another declared, “cant wait for this… spent time in Germany…. the food is first class and often overlooked.”
The controversial reputation of German cuisine was also the topic last May when I chatted with Rick in front of the camera eating cake. The producers found me through my book Spoonfuls of Germany, and by lucky coincidence, I was on my annual trip to Germany when the crew filmed its way from the North Sea down to the Rheingau winegrowing area.
So we met up at charming Café Kränzchen, whose owner gets up at daybreak on Saturdays and Sundays to bake all the cakes herself. And just for the record: the cornucopia on the three-tier cake stand below was later shared by the entire film crew, plus my mother, who had volunteered to be my chauffeur because I was simply too nervous to drive.
There was no need to be nervous. Rick Stein was wonderful and easy to talk to, and he asked me lots of other questions about Germany and German cuisine off camera during the breaks. I can see how his down-to-earth approach and natural curiosity have made his TV programs, from Mediterranean Escapes and Rick Stein’s Spain to Far Eastern Odyssey and Rick Stein’s India, so popular.
I have not yet seen German Bite myself; it is only airing in the UK. The trailer Rick hits the autobahn can be viewed online. Don’t be put off by the still photo of the trailer that looks like a butcher’s display case with German charcuterie. If you are outside the UK, you can get at least a glimpse behind the scenes during production. German food blogger and cookbook author Lisa Nieschlag, who accompanied the film crew during the last few days of the shoot, wrote a detailed post about it (and kindly allowed me to use the photo above).
Over the last decade, I have spent quite a bit of time researching, cooking, writing and talking about the diversity of German food. I think I have been able to convince a few people that German cuisine has lots of hidden gems. Now I am absolutely thrilled that Rick Stein took it on. I hope that his program will do magic for the reputation of German cuisine abroad.