Travel

Traditional Christmas Market in Frankfurt, Germany

21/12/2012

After four months of living in Frankfurt on and off, I am finally sharing a long overdue blog post about this city. I admit, at first I didn’t find enough inspiration in this city to write about its culinary traditions. I spent a lot of time eating on my own in depressing and boring restaurants; I didn’t know where to find the best food or I was too tired after work to look for it.

My impressions of the city changed when I got a flat and started shopping at the weekly market or at the supermarket, as it made me appreciate the quality of the local produce. After work, I would spend hours at the food market, curious to try local products and marvelling at the huge selection of marzipan and chocolate, cereals and cereals. Every weekend I stuffed my suitcase with sweet treats to bring back to my husband in London ! And every Thursday I looked forward to lunch with Kartoffelpuffer and apple sauce at the farmers’ market in Bockenheimer.

Traditional Christmas Market in Frankfurt, Germany

I loved Frankfurt in the summer, when long days allowed me to run in Grüneburgpark after work, watch the sunset over the river Main or have a dinner with Frankfurter Schnitzels at Atschels’ beer garden in Sachsenhausen. During autumn, the city was beautiful: blue skies, red leaves, orange pumpkins everywhere! But I was really looking forward to winter, to the snow and to the Christmas Market! Finally the time came and last week I spent a lovely evening at the market with my friend Manuela, who has lived in Frankfurt for many years and kindly showed me all the classic stalls of the market.

Traditional Christmas Market in Frankfurt, Germany

Traditional Christmas Markets are held in German cities and villages every year and attract many International visitors. I have always wanted to visit one! The festive and romantic atmosphere they evoque is unique, the food is nice and filling, the mulled wine is hot and sweet and you can get your Christmas shopping sorted with beautiful hand-crafted gifts.

Here you can buy all kinds of Christmas merchandise and gifts, especially traditional things such as crib figurines, toys, wood carvings, marionettes, candles and lambskin shoes to place underneath your Christmas tree. Many are difficult to resist – as will be the glass of delicious mulled wine you are offered and the baked apples that are very welcome on crisp winter days. The ambiance of a typical German Christmas Market is further enhanced by the aromas of hot chestnuts, grilled sausages and other tasty snacks.

Traditional Christmas Market in Frankfurt, Germany Traditional Christmas Market in Frankfurt, GermanyTraditional Christmas Market in Frankfurt, Germany Traditional Christmas Market in Frankfurt, Germany

A visit to the Christmas Market starts with a hot mug of Glühwein (or mulled wine in English). It’s red wine combined with cinnamon sticks, vanilla pods, cloves, citrus and sugar. I love that they serve the wine in a real ceramic mug and not a plastic cup.
Traditional Christmas Market in Frankfurt, Germany
Traditional Christmas Market in Frankfurt, Germany

Bembel are traditional pottery jugs, grey with a blue pattern, used to serve Apflewein.

Of course, no Christmas Market in Germany would be complete without a real Bratwurst Sausage!

Traditional Christmas Market in Frankfurt, Germany Traditional Christmas Market in Frankfurt, Germany Traditional Christmas Market in Frankfurt, Germany

Another traditional dish in Frankfurt is the Schmalzbrot, which literally means “bread with lard”.

Traditional Christmas Market in Frankfurt, Germany

My favourite food discovery in Frankfurt is the Flammkuchen, the “flame cake”, which is actually an Alsatian dish composed of bread dough rolled out very thin in the shape of a rectangle, is covered with crème fraîche, thinly sliced onions and bacon.

Traditional Christmas Market in Frankfurt, Germany

Kartoffelpuffer: shallow-fried potato pancakes served with apple sauce!

Traditional Christmas Market in Frankfurt, Germany

And of course, lots of sweets! Chocolate coated fruit, candy, caramelised nuts, gingerbread and the classic German Christmas cake: the Stollen!

Traditional Christmas Market in Frankfurt, Germany Traditional Christmas Market in Frankfurt, GermanyTraditional Christmas Market in Frankfurt, Germany

Schokokuss: sweetened egg white foam coated in chocolate. Don’t call them marshmallows!

Traditional Christmas Market in Frankfurt, Germany

The Frankfurt Christmas Market is beautiful and big, with two hundred stalls stretching from the Ziel (the main shopping street) to the river, passing through Römer, the city’s town hall. It also has a very long history that can be traced back to 1393. If you are in Germany in December, make sure to visit a Christmas Market, order a mug of mulled wine and have fun! Prost! 

Most Christmas Markets start in the last week of November and run through to Christmas Eve or a day or two before. They are usually open every day from 10am to about 8 or 9 pm.

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