Tales from the pantry – Spaetzle

  • Mar. 7, 2011 9:00 a.m.
Wolfgang from Tales From the Pantry

Wolfgang from Tales From the Pantry

It doesn’t matter how you say it, or spell it!  Most people wouldn’t know what it is , or have a clue what I am talking about unless you are from the German speaking parts of Europe.  What the potato is for the North American, rice for the Asian, pasta for the Italian, couscous for the North African, and of course poutine for our French Canadians, it is the spaetzle for the Schwabians.

As you might know Schwabia/Baden is a state in Southern Germany bordered to the East by the River Rhine, Switzerland and Danube in the South and the state of Bavaria.   Centrally located in the Black Forest.  Not only will you find the world famous cuckoo clocks there but also the cradle of the spaetzle.

Now what is spaetzle?  It is what most people would call a pasta.  The staple has been the basis and pillar of the Schwabian cuisine for over 600 years.  It is made from regular flour mixed with eggs, salt and nutmeg and sometimes with a  bit of water.  Literally translated, spaetzle means little sparrow.  The dough was formed with a little spoon and dropped in to boiling water, creating little clumps. Therefore called sparrow (spatz).

Later on, spaetzle the old fashion way, has been scraped from a wooden board in long thing strips into the boiling water.  Now that is the way how some Schwabian purists still do it.  Meanwhile manufactures have come up with an easier solution, which is called a spaeztle hobel or hopper. Look for them in kitchen stores of some major delis.

Attached over the pot the dough is pushed through small holes, creating little buttons, therefore called Knoeplfi.  This practice is mostly used in Bararica Switzerland, Austria and parts of Hungary.

An old fashioned Schwabian house wife would have no problem creating 15 to 20 mouth watering dishes with spaetzle.  There are so many varieties.  To name a few, you could make them with cheese and crisp fried onions, sesame seed, spinach, hazelnuts, go exotic with curry or just plain with butter as a side dish for stew, roasts or beef rouladen served with braised cabbage, sauerkraut or in lentil stew with sausage and smoked meats.  They are delicious.

In Germany the estimated annual production of spaetzle is about 40,000 tons which does not include speatzle made by individual households or restaurants.  If you are not able to make your own, here in our store we carry a manufactured product from Germany (Aisle 5 ).  Or, if you are ever in my neck of the woods drop in to the Timber Inn in Parson and see Marianne for a cheese spaetzle experience.  A steaming bowl of them, layered with crisp fried onions and emmental cheeses and a glass of carefully poured wheat beer by Rainer.  Hospitality and a smile goes a long way there.  As a matter of fact, us Schwabians are so much in love with the spaetzle that we even call tenderly and respectfully, our beloved wives or sweethearts a spaetzle, from spaetzle came the word schaetzle meaning my treasure.

 

So, who is your spaetzle?

 

Basic Spaetzle Dough

 

500g Flour

6 Whole Eggs

A pinch of Salt and Nutmeg

Maybe some water, depending  on the size of the eggs

 

Go and try some!

 

Till next time,

~Wolfgang