Saxony-Anhalt (or Sachsen-Anhalt) lies in the northeast central part of Germany, bordered by the federal states of Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony), Brandenburg, Saxony and Thuringia. The state was recreated after the reunification of East and West Germany in 1990 as part of the “Neue Bundeslaender” (New Federal States). It has a population of 2,500,000 and its capital is Magdeburg. Other important cities are Dessau and Halle, the latter being the former home of one of Saxony-Anhalt’s most famous inhabitants, the composer Georg Friedrich Handel. No less important is the town of Wittenberg, known officially as Lutherstadt Wittenberg, which has become a very popular tourist spot due to its connections with Martin Luther.
Geographically, this federal state is characterized by the river Elbe that runs through it and the Harz mountain range, a popular area for tourists and nature enthusiasts. The state is an important agricultural area, particularly in the the central area known as the Magdeburger
Börde, where the fertile soil is used to cultivate vegetables, wheat and sugar beets and to raise cattle and pigs. In the Altmark region of pine forests, rye and potatoes are the main crops and in the south, fruit and wine is cultivated. The most well-known agricultural products from these regions are the onions from Calbe, milk and asparagus (Spargel) from the Altmark and apricots and sparkling wine from the Saale-Unsrut area. These ingredients form the basis of many of Saxony Anhalt’s most well-known dishes.
Saxony-Anhalt is also home to many food manufacturers. These include Confiserie Dreher, manufacturers of the original Dreher “Mozartkugeln”, the Halloren Schokoladenfabrik, Germany’s oldest chocolate factory, dating back to 1804, the Halberstädter Würstchen und Konservenfabrik which produces the famous Halberstädter Würstchen, the world’s first canned sausage and Rotkäppchen Sekt (Red Riding Hood sparkling wine) which is based in Freyburg and the Kathi Rainer Theile company which makes the Kathi brand of cake mixes that are available in the U.S.
Here are some of Saxony-Anhalt’s most well-known dishes :
Known as the “King of Cakes”, this pound cake-type pastry creation is a masterpiece and takes skill and patience to create. It is made by building up layers of cake batter on a rotating spit to create a tall cake, which, when cut, reveals rings similar to the annual marks of a tree, hence its name.
Spargel (asparagus) from the Altmark region is one of the key ingredients in this soup, along with tiny meatballs and cooked egg garnish. It is traditionally served as an appetizer at a wedding, but is often made at home too.
Zerbster Spargelsuppe (Asparagus Soup)
Asparagus is again the main ingredient in this creamy soup made with asparagus, cream, hard boiled eggs, butter, sugar, salt and nutmeg
A stew made with fish, potatoes, bacon, dark beer and gingerbread
A beef brisket stew with vegetables (carrots, leeks, celeriac)
Thin slices of boiled beef brisket served in an onion sauce
A baked casserole made with lamb and mutton cubes, cabbage, onions and sliced potatoes.
Vegetables au gratin
In times past, this dish was served for breakfast at weddings in the Altmarkt region.The name comes from the frying pan used to make the dish, so called”Tiegeln”. It consists of beef and mutton that is cooked together with onions then allowed to cool. The meat is then chopped and placed in a Tiegel (Bratpfanne) and baked in the oven. It is served with white bread and a gulp of Altmarker Korn (schnapps).
Harzer Lamm in Buttermilch
Lamb marinated in Buttermilch (butter milk) and sautéed
The first ever canned sausages were made by the Halberstädter Würstchen und Konservenfabrik in 1896. The unique sausages are made using a special chimney smoking process using beech wood, followed by a long maturing process.
A Recipe From Saxony-Anhalt:
Gurkencremesuppe mit Kartoffeln (Cucumber Soup with Potatoes)
1 medium cucumber
1 1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3 cups cold water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup cream
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon grated onions
1 tablespoon finely chopped dill
Peel cucumber and cut in half. Remove seed and cut cucumber into 1/4 inch cubes. Cover potatoes with water, add salt and pepper and cook until done. Pass potatoes through a sieve together with cooking liquid. Place puree in saucepan and fold in cream, milk, grated onions and cucumber. Leave soup to simmer for 5 minutes. Add dill. Flavor to taste.