Six of the best Franconian foods, Germany


 These small and moreish  pork sausages originate from Nuremberg, which is the only area allowed to use the label Nurnberger. They're generally served in a roll and eaten in threes, dubbed "Drei in a Weckla". Expect cabbage as well. Other Franconian areas have their own take on bratwurst.  Ansbach bratwursts are marjoram-flavoured. Around Hof, the Hofer bratwurst is smaller and leaner, while the Coburger bratwurst is as thick and coarse as the Nurnberger but with smokier flavours from being roasted over pine cones. Kulmbach bratwursts have a higher percentage of veal. Who knew the humble snag could have its own appellation?


Lebkuchen is another Nuremberg specialty, invented by Franconian monks in the 13th century. Back then, it was called "honey cake" and today can also be referred to as honigkuchen or pfefferkuchen (pepper cake). Since 1996, Nurnberger Lebkuchen has been a "protected designation of origin". You can't walk far in Nuremberg without stumbling upon these large  round biscuits. They can be sweet or spicy and are usually made from honey, spices such as aniseed, coriander, cloves, ginger, cardamom and allspice, and nuts  such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts and candied fruit. They come plain, glazed or covered with dark chocolate. Lebkuchen season starts in August and ends in December.


A dish "with music"  sounds so romantic, but refers in fact to the, ahem, flatulence that results from eating pressack.  Pressack is a terrine pickled with vinegar, made from the head of a calf or pig, or sometimes a sheep or cow, and set in aspic. The tongue, feet and heart may be included,  but the brain, eyes and ears are generally removed.  Pressack is flavoured with onion, black pepper, allspice, bay leaves and vinegar, and is a deep red, pinkish, or a somewhat unappealing grey. It's a regional favourite but won't appeal to everyone.


There might be a tad more "musik" with this one. It's made from a special, pear-shaped heirloom onion grown only in the region. This firm and mild-tasting onion is stuffed with pork mince, eggs and milk-soaked breadcrumbs, parsley, marjoram, nutmeg, bacon and pepper and braised in broth and beer, which yields gravy. You eat this with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut, and traditionally drink it with Bamberg's "rauchbier" or smokebeer (which tastes like bacon).


Schneeballen must be a regional favourite due to their ubiquity in every Rothenberg pastry shop. However our Rothenberg guide warns us never under any circumstance to eat them. But oh, the pastry nests dusted with icing sugar sit so prettily in the windows of Rothenberg ob der Tauber. "They're the hard-fried leftovers from cake making," advises our guide. "They taste of nothing and grease – not even the pigeons will touch them." They're also called stork's nests or "Storchennest", which doesn't sound quite as charming.


Best then to stick to the sweet Franconian pan-fried yeast-dough specialty, Kuchla or Kuchle, meaning little cakes. The most common form is the Kniekuchla or knee cake,  the name of which comes from the baker's original preparation method of drawing the dough over the knee to obtain the Kuchla's typical thin crust. Hence the saying, "Do scheyne Schussalasküchla baggn, need Braade knee" (If you want to bake beautiful bowl-Kuchle, you need wide knees). The knee cakes are thin in the middle, with a thick rim, resembling doughnuts, and are deep-fried and dusted with icing sugar. They were baked mainly during harvest and feast days.

Alison Stewart was a guest of APT.