Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006

Let’s Talk About Food, Baby


It’s clearly autumn. I’ve got visiting owls and the bakery’s got Zwiebelkuechen. When I walked past yesterday and smelt the delicious scent of baked onion, creme fraiche and bacon, I had a vision of all the festivals and seasonal foods that lie ahead of us – the Zwiebelkuechen of harvest time, followed by the pumpkins that may or may not mean Halloween, the November Laternefest and its cakes, and then all the delicious smells and spices of Christmas. In about three seconds’ time, I’m going to be sipping Gluehwein at a Christmas market, wondering what the hell happened to the year. Wasn’t I in Tuscany on the beach, like, yesterday?

Now it’s harvest time and the German new wines will be appearing soon. These are bottled – with screwtop caps – as soon as they reach 4% alcohol, but continue to ferment inside the bottle up to 11%, so they are deceptively strong. Germans serve their Neue Wein with a good hearty Zwiebelkuechen in order to counteract the unknowable amount of alcohol in the wine. We have to be cautious, you know? It’s apparently a very good pairing, if you like Neue Wein, which I don’t. It’s far sweet for me and brings on an instant headache (not the the fun kind that you earn after hours of drinking, but the depressing kind when everyone else is having a blast and you have to go home at 9.15pm).

When I started working in Germany, the first team after-hours get-together I attended was trumpetted as a “Neue Wein und Zwiebelkuechen Party“. The guy who organised it got quite excited about his party theme. You could have sworn he was going to be serving Moet and Beluga caviar, he was so thrilled. (Have you noticed that it’s always the same people who organise parties? Some people are party helpers, other people are party goers, and then there are the special souls who like to organise parties. They don’t seem to spend much time actually enjoying the parties; they are not usually the ones seducing the intern on the dance-floor or arranging group down-down sessions. Instead, they are restocking the drinks fridge, making sure there are enough knives and forks on the table and doing the music. I love party organisers. They provide the excuse for me to make desserts and then do a lot of dancing.) So after all the Neue Wein and Zwiebelkuechen PR from the party organising guy, I got quite excited about these exotic new foodstuffs and was looking forward to trying them. Sadly, they were not great. Zwiebelkuechen turned out not to be some fascinating kind of cake, but Quiche Lorraine (easily found in South Africa) and the wine was sweet, feathery and gave me an instant headache. I was underwhelmed.

However, the Zwiebelkuechen, with its crumbly crust and salty-sweet combination of bacon and onion, has grown on me. Today, passing the bakery, I was lured by its siren smell:

Zwiebelkuechen with feta and pepper salad

Now I don’t drink alone and I seldom drink at lunch-time, even at weekends, but somehow it was not possible to eat Zwiebelkuechen without drinking wine. I’m not so German that it had to be Neue Wein, so instead it was a tiny little glass – really, a tiny, tiny little glass – of rose.

I needed something to help soak up all that Zwiebelkuechen, after all.

And I wasn’t alone. I had three children with me.

Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

15 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Food, Baby

  1. That looks delicious. Bacon and onion…mmm…

  2. It’s only breakfast time here, but I’m already wishing lunch to hurry.

  3. Bacon. onion, eggs, and cheese. Oh, and pie crust. A classic combination. And the smell of the bacon and onions on a cool fall morning! I’ve always liked quiche lorraine, I used to make it frequently, even though they say “real men don’t eat or cook quiche”

  4. That looks wonderful! And I really enjoy pepper and feta salad…I make something similar but add hummus and eat it for lunch sometimes.

  5. Oooooh…. Quiche Lorraine is one of my specialties, though I usually can’t help adding some spinach or other veggies in there.

    My dad is (was, can be no longer because of his blood pressure meds) a big Gewurtztraminer fan.

    What’s a “group down-down session”?

  6. That looks delicious. I tried a Zwiebelkuechen recipe from my Elisabeth Luard book and it was great but much breadier than the one in your pic – more like a pizza than a quiche. It definitely could have done with some wine to wash it down.

  7. Mmm…lovely! I’m guessing that Neue Wein must be the same thing we call Federweisser up here in the north. I can’t drink it either but my husband loves it and goes through many bottles at this time of year. And I’m going to attempt a homemade Zwiebelkuchen soon.

  8. Hobgoblin, it’s just the thing for a hungry cyclist.

    Ms Marmite, apologies for bringing on the hunger pangs.

    Ian, in Germany real men certainly eat quiche, even if they call it by another name. Many may even cook it …

    Courtney, that sounds like a good combination. I must try it.

    Henitserk, I can drink a little Gewurztraminer, but generally sweet wines bring on headaches. As for down-downs, I have no idea what they are in the US vernacular, but it’s a competition to see who can drink a large amount of beer in the fastest amount of time.

    Kit, the combination of quiche and wine is very pleasing.

    Christina, you’re right it is Federweisser. And I’m looking forward to seeing your recipe online.

  9. I think the salad with the dill looks delicious!

  10. I have no qualms about glugging down wine on my own….and rose is my weakness, especially at lunchtime….and you know something? I am one of those party organisers…I much prefer to entertain than be the entertained. It takes all sorts, thankfully….where would YOU be without the organisers and where would WE be with nobody to spoil and impress?

  11. PS…Is it difficult to do that Tag Cloud? It looks so much more fun than a list of labels.

  12. This is making me anticipate my trip to Germany in June even more. A good quiche/pie-type treat that goes well with wine sounds right up my alley. As if I needed another excuse to have a glass…

  13. Oh yummy!! I am going to get the rosé in and make a Zwiebelkuchen..

  14. Vielen dank for posting this (though it’s over a year old now). As a newbie in Deutschland, I had no idea what Neue Wein is. I kept seeing signs around advertising Neue Wein und Zweibelkuchen, and I didn’t understand what was so great about some sort of wine and onion bread. Thank you for explaining it. Now I may (or may not…I’m prone to headaches from sweet drinks) sample the pair next time I’m out.


  15. I’m sorry to comment again, but I can’t seem to figure out why my username doesn’t show up as a link. Just FYI, I came over from our blog.

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