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GERMANY, AUSTRIA, SWITZERLAND

sideline business). But cheap Schnaps weaned peasant drinkers away from beer to such an extent that produc- tion ceased in many areas of Germany, with the result that beer brewing became concentrated in the hands of large urban breweries. The unspoken side effect of the Brandy Plague was the concomitant rise in alcoholism. However, in traditional wine-growing regions, old drink- ing habits prevailed. The Brandy Plague never touched the Mosel Valley, the Pfalz, or the vineyard villages of Swabia.

Alpine butter mold from the Tyrol, circa 1890. These molds, which depict mountain deer, edelweiss, and other symbols of alpine culture, were made as mementos for Victorian-era

tourists. ROUGHWOOD COLLECTION. PHOTO CHEW & COMPANY.

monarchs to encourage the peasantry to rely on potatoes rather than grains and bread as a mainstay of the diet. This promotional effort was in part self-serving since the governments at that time realized that potatoes were cheaper than bread, easy to store, and more reliable than grain, especially in Germany’s climate. In terms of yield, potatoes also fed more people per acre than grain. Thus, for a combination of reasons, the potato became one of the “pillars” of modern German cookery, especially in the north. In the south, where flour-based dumplings were a dietary mainstay, the potato never quite achieved the same central dietary role. To this day, the potato is still only a side-dish food in southern Germany, Austria, and Switzer- land. It is also converted into dumplings in those regional cuisines.

The third factor that played a decisive role in the German food revolution was the increase in alcohol con- sumption, especially in the form of spirits or hard liquor. Grain and fruit alcohol was distilled by many peasants in the seventeenth century, but this was mostly to make good use of the residues from wine pressing or from cider. Furthermore, the distilled beverages were treated more as medicine than as social drinks. Around 1800, German chemists discovered that spirits could be distilled from potatoes, and this opened the door to what is known in Germany as the “Brandy Plague” (Branntweinseuche). The plague spread in step with the rising popularity of potato production, especially among the large land holders in northeastern Germany. The benefits were obvious: potato Schnaps provided yet another source of income for the landowner. Furthermore, the potato scraps left over from distilling could be used to fodder pigs (yet another

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After its establishment in 1871, the Second German Reich experienced rapid industrialization and a tremen- dous population explosion. The growth in the popula- tion of cities was accelerated by migration of labor from the countryside. Due to technological improvements in agriculture, the food supply throughout German Europe increased dramatically, and meat consumption rose with it. Fear of food shortages and famine very quickly disap- peared almost within a generation. Only after World War I and during World War II did Germany suffer again from widespread food shortages. Today there are roughly 230,000 registered food products available in German stores on a daily basis.

All of these sociological and economic changes in German diet did not go unnoticed by cookbook writers. German-speaking Europe, like England, has a long tra- dition of middle-class cookbooks that may be studied as barometers of culinary change. The first of these is doubtless the Kuchenmeistery, a pamphlet cookbook first printed in Nürnberg about 1485.It was not until the lat- ter part of the eighteenth century, after the appearance of a number of general reflections on the culture of eat- ing, that a true “bourgeois cuisine” began to take shape in German culinary literature. This is referred to in Ger- man as bürgerliche Kochkunst, a concept which has no pre- cise analogy in English.

The underlying themes of this literature were econ- omy, rational meal preparation, taste improvements over traditional recipes, and new meal regimes under the rubric of Hausmannskost (fare for the working husband). This new literature for “plain kitchens” as opposed to aristocratic kitchens appealed to urban housewives. The great German classic of this genre was the Kochbuch für

die gewöhnliche und feinere Küche (Cookbook for plain and

elegant cookery) written in 1845 by Henriette Davidis, the daughter of a Westphalian minister. This book passed through new editions almost every year until 1900—long after the author’s death in 1876. Davidis also wrote the first cookbook on the preparation of horsemeat in 1848, and a collection of her recipes was published for German-American immigrants in Milwaukee during the 1870s. She was in every respect reigning queen of the kitchen of imperial Germany.

Towards the end of the nineteenth century, there was a growing recognition in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland that cookbooks had become a mirror of the whole culinary culture. This led to a realization that the

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