The Black Forest, located in the German state of Baden-Wurttemberg, is one of the largest tourist attractions in the region. Considering the Brother’s Grimm made ample use of the famous forest fin their enchanting, and sometimes chilling fairytales, this is no big surprise. However, there is much more to the Black Forest (or Schwarzwald to the natives) than myth and legend. The region has a rich culture and iconic culinary tradition, influenced by its French and Swiss neighbors.
Black Forest Cake is a staple dessert in the area.It is made from chocolate cake infused with the cherry liquor of the region which is then layered with sour cherries and whipped cream. Cakes like these can be traced back to Renaissance times, and are similar in the principle to the English Trifle. Contrary to popular belief, the Black Forest Cake (SchwarzwälderKirschtorte in German) is not directly named after the forest, but rather the liquor, Schwarzwälder Kirsch. The Black Forest Cake did not come become wildly recognized until the mid 1900’s, when it found its way into many home cookbooks. You can find Black Forest Cake at modern bakeries year round, but its presence seems to peak around wintertime. Seen at many holiday parties it is considered the perfect end to a holiday meal.
You can walk into almost any deli in America, and ask for a big helping of Black Forest ham in your sandwich. Did you know, in Germany, only licensed butchers can produce Germany’s so called “Champagne of Meats”?Additionally, ham that is not taken from a pig of the Black Forest region cannot be called Black Forest ham.Seems a little excessive! Just what makes Black Forest ham so prized? Well, it can take up to three months to prepare. It’s a smoked ham which is salted and seasoned with garlic, coriander, juniper berries, and more. It’s then allowed to cure for a minimum of two weeks, and smoked till all the spices blacken on its surface. This process allows the flavor to soak deep down into the meat, making it extra delicious. It’s eaten fresh, dried, or accompanying other food, much like American bacon. It’s Germany’s pride and joy.