An East German Culinary Adventure

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The Democratic Republic of German (DRG), or East Germany for short, was created after the Soviet invasion that ended the European part of World War II. The country, which actually included territories previously considered part of Central Germany (the lands of eastern Germany having been given to Poland), became a Soviet satellite. Trade with the west on foodstuffs and consumer goods mostly stopped, and the East Germans had to make do with whatever could be produced behind the iron curtain. Thus, the cuisine of East Germany, specially during the first couple of decades after WWII, became one of scarcity and “make do.”

Of course, at their heart, most cuisines are cuisines of scarcity. Indeed, the best cuisines evolve to disguise the taste of less than optimal ingredients. But in the case of East Germany, there was also a disruption in the types of foodstuff that became available as the country tried to become self-sufficient. As with other parts of the Soviet empire, Russian food also became influential.

And yet, if the recipes I cooked are typical of East German cuisine, I can only conclude that the East Germans ate at least as well after the war as before it. It's not just nostalia that makes DRG-born Angela Merkel favor the cuisine of her childhood.