When I started cooking German dishes for my children more than a decade ago, my main motive was to introduce them to the foods I had loved as a child. I did not realize it at the time but it was not just the taste for things like spaetzle that I was trying to instill in them, it was subconsciously also the attitude towards fresh food that I had grown up with: Enjoy produce when it’s in season because that is when it tastes best.
Therefore the boxes of strawberries and piles of peaches that are a common sight at supermarkets in the United States even in the deepest winter have never tempted me.
The experience of Christie Dietz, a British expat living in Germany, was the exact opposite. “When I first arrived in Germany, I was a confused by what I took to be a serious lack of variety in fresh produce on supermarket shelves. I had no idea it was simply that the Germans are, broadly speaking, extremely dedicated to consuming local, seasonal produce.”
Christie made a 180-degree turn. “Since moving to Germany, I have embraced a diet that largely comprises locally-produced, seasonal food,” she writes on her blog A Sausage Has Two (the name is a reference to the German saying, “Alles hat ein Ende nur die Wurst hat zwei” (“Everything has an end only the sausage has two”).
This reflects a growing trend in Germany. It is in regards to produce that eating locally sourced food is the most important to German consumers. In a 2013 survey by the consumer protection agency Stiftung Warentest, 80% of Germans said that they pay attention to buying fruits and vegetables from their region.
In her “Seasonal Eating Guide: What to eat in…” Christie provides a run-down of the produce she finds every month at local farmers’ markets and suggests recipes from a wide spectrum of online resources, ranging from fellow bloggers around the world to BBC Food and Martha Stewart. Christie does not shy away from wallflower veggies such as parsnips and raves about wild boar (Wildschwein). She is in the lucky position to live in Wiesbaden, a city that is around the corner from the famous Rheingau wine-growing region, orchards and white asparagus fields.
Her recipe for Pork Medallions with a Wild Mushroom Cream Sauce is the result of a brown paper bag filled with fresh and gritty wild mushrooms she brought home from the market last October. I’ve had this dish often and in several variations in Germany and always liked it very much, especially with homemade spaetzle.
True, this is not mushroom season but we have a wonderful local mushroom grower nearby where I can get fabulous fresh mushrooms year-around so I can claim I made this with local ingredients too!
Christie, in return, choose to make a vegan dish from Spoonfuls of Germany. Yes, German food can be vegan! See what she says about it on her blog.
Pork Medallions with a Wild Mushroom Cream Sauce (Schweinemedaillons mit Pfifferlingrahmsoße)
Adapted from A Sausage Has Two
2 tablespoons (30 g) butter
Freshly ground black pepper
10 ounces (300 g) pork loin, sliced into 1¼ -inch thick medallions
1 medium-size onion, finely chopped
7 ounces (200 g) fresh chanterelles or mixed fresh mushrooms, dirt removed and the larger ones sliced in two
1 small glass dry white wine
2/3 cup (150 ml) heavy cream
A small bunch of parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped
1. Melt the butter on a medium to high heat in a wide, non-stick pan with a drizzle of olive oil (to stop the butter from burning). Season the meat well and sear it on both sides for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove it from the pan and set it aside.
2. Lower the heat a little, add the chopped onion and cook slowly, stirring from time to time, until the onion is soft and translucent and beginning to turn golden at the edges. Turn the heat up again, add the mushrooms and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes until they are well coated.
3. Add the wine to the pan and allow it to bubble and reduce until it has almost disappeared. Pour in the cream and cook on medium heat until the sauce thickens, then stir in the parsley, reserving a little to garnish. Return the pork to the pan and cook for another 4 minutes, until the pork is just cooked through. Taste the sauce and season with more salt and/or pepper if necessary.
Makes 2 servings