Strasbourg, France- Shelley
What to Eat in Strasbourg, France
Throughout history, the region of Alsace has bounced between German and French hands, with sovereignty finally ending up with France at the conclusion of World War II. But not before generations of its citizens were forced to change nationality multiple times. You can only imagine how painful and difficult this must’ve been for people who had long considered themselves to be French, to suddenly be German, or vice versa. Add in having to fight for one side or another in the various conflicts (like World War II), sometimes against their will, and you get the picture.
There is however, at least one good thing that came out of all this tragedy. And that’s a unique Alsatian cuisine that blends both French and German culinary traditions.
We were lucky enough to stay with our friend Louis and his parents in their delightful home just outside the city’s historic centre. Having these life time residents show us around and introduce us to all the region’s specialties (sometimes home-made with great effort) was more than we could’ve hoped for.
It’s not the only reason I totally fell in love with Strasbourg, but it’s definitely a big part.
GALETTES / CREPES Galettes and crepes are decidedly French. And in Strasbourg’s Petite France, you can have une version incroyable at Creperie Le Moulin du Diable. This is the restaurant local residents recommend and we were lucky to get reservations, which are definitely required.
Galettes are made of sarrasin (buckwheat) flour and always contain savoury ingredients, whereas crepes are made from wheat flour, and may be either sweet or savoury. On Louis’ recommendation, we ordered galettes, and I could definitely feel a textural difference. It also seemed healthier (cuz buckwheat is good, right?), never mind the butter, cheese and sauce. Ahem…
FLAMMEKUECHE or TARTE FLAMBÉE Don’t make the mistake of calling the tarte flambée a pizza, especially in front of a resident of Strasbourg.
We teased Louis mercilessly about this, to which he always insisted empathetically, “IT’S NOT PIZZA! You’ll see.” And he was proved right on our last night in Strasbourg, when we headed to the small village of Lampertheim to try it at local favourite, D'Steinmuehl.
We were ultimately presented with a super thin rectangle of dough, topped with (in its most classic version) soft cheese, lardons, and onions, which were set ablaze. As soon as the fire was out, each slice was rolled up and popped into our mouths just as quickly as possible. Five variations of tarte flambée later, we called it a night. But only when we could no longer force a single morsel more into our stomachs.
CHOUCROUTE GARNIE Coucroute Garnie (garnished sauerkraut) might be the most classic Alsatian dish of them all. Traditionally made in wintertime because of the ultra long cooking time in the oven, it’s sauerkraut topped with a veritable smorgasbord of fresh, smoked, and salted pork.
We were lucky enough to dine on a home-cooked version, which was undoubtedly better than any restaurant version, but good choucroute garnie can be found almost anywhere in Alsace.
ALL THE BAKED GOODS This goes without saying, but French pastries are pretty much the best in the world. We stopped by the friendly neighbourhood bakery often (ok, everyday) for croissants, tarts and breads, and they were some of the most delicious I’ve ever had.
And if you get tired of all the sweet, sweet goodness, you can order yourself an Alsatian Bretzel – a twisted piece of dough precooked in boiling water that’s usually sprinkled with sea salt and caraway seed before being dried in an oven.
VINS D’ALSACE Wines in Alsace are primarily white, with strong Germanic influences, though rosés and reds are also produced. It’s most famous wine is the Gewürztraminer d’Alsace, an aromatic, off-dry white wine (and if that doesn’t sound German, I’m not sure what does).