Franconia is a part of Bavaria – a fact one shouldn´t mention while being in Franconia. The people of Franconia see themselves as upper- or lower Franks, but never as Bavarians, historically seen they are their own tribe and have nothing in common with the Bavarians anyway. The largest part of the province drinks beer, only at the river Main, people grow wine, but there for centuries and very successful. The typical bottle form, the “bocksbeutel” has reached nationwide popularity. The bocksbeutel origins from the cunning of the monks in order to be able to drink even during Lent (the form of the bottle was invisible under their frock) and is still a good sign for a high-quality wine from Franconia – the low-quality ones are filled in liter bottles for cheaper production.
How high Franconian’s validate their wine can be seen by the fact that the state wine cellar was built by Balthasar Neuman – underneath the Residence you find one of the most recognized vault cellars in the world, the oldest barrel is the “Schwedenfass” from 1684. If the barrel only could tell it’s story, I would love to hear it from a contemporary witness: the people from Würzburg managed to rescue the last remaining barrel from the millenium wine from 1540 before the Swedish army took over. They filled the wine into a new barrel and from then on, they called it “Schwedenfass” (swedish barrel)
In Würzburg it’s a quotation to have a “Schoppen auf der Brücke” – it means to have a glass of wine on the historic Main bridge (build 1476), seamed by the Saints of the bridge. From there you have beautiful view over the river, the castle and the vineyards, people stand together, enjoy their wine and chat.
As soon as you leave the river Main, breweries replace the wine houses – it is a proven fact that Franconia has the highest brewery density worldwide and is justifiably proud of that. They really still exist, the breweries with attached restaurant, where young and old sit together at a big table – traditional franconian cuisine is served, down-to-earth and without any unnecessary fancy attitude.
In case you travel from Nuremberg direction Bamberg, Kulmbach, Coburg and Forchheim and get invited by locals “kommt’s mit auf den Keller”, you should definitely take it: they don’t talk about a dark cellar room, it’s in fact a Franconian beergarden, somewhat out of town. Historic background: in times before the refrigerator got invented, the beer was kept cool in caves outside of town. Planted chestnut trees made the place shady and thirsty traveler got a beer right there. This custom is still alive, Franconians love their beer garden and still call it cellar, on warm summer nights they sit together and enjoy
“Aan Guaden” (enjoy your meal) you say in Franconia
Regardless whether wine or beer dominates on the menu, something all Franconians have in common: they really love good food. By traveling from village to village, you still find bakeries, butcher and a weekly market, which is way better than you would expect from the size of the village. The people here managed to keep the local producer alive, they just don’t go to the supermarket for groceries, they prefer the local product – you definitely taste the difference.
Franconian cuisine in the Deutschlandreise
The quality of the pork roast is still the best way to ensure the quality of a restaurant in Franconia. Surprisingly, because this down to earth meal is easy to prepare – you use a pork shoulder, fry it and use the fry sauce to prepare gravy. But maybe that´s the problem, because the tastiness of the pork roast decisively depends on the quality of the meat. If you use low-quality meat, the roast will be dry and fibrous. There is no cheating with the sauce either because it can´t be thickened with cream and roux, it has to be thin – some restaurants even serve a spoon with it!
Bamberger Zwiebel (onion)
The sandy ground at the river Regnitz was even used for growing onions at times, when the Emperor ruled the country – latter are responsible for the nickname of the people in Bamberg: they are called Dswiebldreedä (onion kicker). Simply because the young onion shoots got kicked down in order to let the tuber grow better. Bamberger onions are know for being rich in taste, but not too strong, filled with minced meat and braised a delicacy!
The Franconian version of the Bavarian “Obatzter”: a mature Camembert gets cut up (not smashed with the hand blender!), mixed with onions, seasons and Silvaner wine and served with bred or pretzel
Fränkische Brotsuppe (bred soup)
In the past this was a meal for the poor – the left over bred had to be used up before the new baking day, it was prepared with seasonal vegetables for a tasty meal. Bred and bacon get roasted and served separately, so it stays crunchy
Nürnberger Würstchen (sausages)
Fresh sausages from the Brastwursthäusle have nothing in common with the industrial sausage you find at the supermarket. The Bratwursthäusle is an institutionin Nuremberg – right at the corner of Dome and farmers market, it provides for the market people and guests a proper meal since 1313. The butchery produces the original Nuremberger, the sausage gets grilled over the open beech fire until today. We receive the sausages during our Franconian weeks from the Bratwursthäusle, unfortunately we have to grill them outside on charcoal.
The most known for sure is the Bamberger Rauchbier. In former times, every beer tasted kind of smokey – the malt had to be dried, which happened most of the time over open fire. With modern technology you can use different procedures today, but the people from Bamberg like the smokey taste and stick to the traditional way of production even today. It may not be your cup of tea, but at least you should try!