Beer and bratwurst are of course an integral part of the country's festivals and public holidays. But they're just one small part of all the pleasures on offer. Take yourself on a culinary tour of discovery through Germany. You'll be amazed at the diversity of delicacies and taste experiences you'll encounter.
Asparagus growing has a long tradition in Lower Saxony . The marked trail known as the Lower Saxony Asparagus Route links major asparagus-growing areas such as Burgdorf, Nienburg, Braunschweig and Gifhorn. The asparagus museum in Nienburg is dedicated to this seasonal vegetable, which is served from the end of April to the end of June, usually with potatoes, ham and hollandaise sauce.
The Münsterland is renowned for its wide range of places to eat, from country inns serving traditional dishes to Michelin-starred restaurants focused on regional produce. But come April, one dish is always on the menu: asparagus. And it generally remains there until June 24, Midsummer's Day, also known as Spargelsilvester ('Asparagus Eve'). Then its brief season is over and it's time to look forward to next year's crop. The best asparagus farms and farm shops can be found on the North Rhine-Westphalia Asparagus Route.
The Saarlander is famous for his barbecue skills, and in the summer months the smell of pork steaks being grilled over an open flame – a process known as schwenken – is never far away. You can enjoy the end product of the schwenken at one of the Saarland's traditional festivals – the Saarlouis Emmes, for example, on the first weekend in June.
The Black Forest is home to the darkest, sweetest temptation in the whole of Germany. Whether it was first created in Radolfzell in 1915 or in a café in Tübingen in the 1930s, the Black Forest gateau definitely hails from Baden-Württemberg. And has gone on to conquer the world. Its key ingredients are Black Forest kirsch, which gives the cake its inimitable flavour, and of course cherries. As for how many cherries – that's up to the individual baker.
The orange-coloured berries on the thorny hippophae bushes are typical of the coastal vegetation here. They contain more vitamin C than citrus fruits and are one of the most important indigenous sources of energy. Visitors like to take them home in the form of oil, drinks (such as tea and juice), sweets and jams, liqueurs and wines, and cosmetics. You can even visit one of Rügen 's sea buckthorn plantations at harvest time.
In 1912 Alfred Eugene Ritter and his wife Clara founded a chocolate and confectionery factory in Bad Cannstatt in Stuttgart . In 1932 Clara created a chocolate bar that would slide easily into every man's jacket pocket and weighed the same as a normal longer bar. Since then, the square format has become recognised the world over as the unique shape of the chocolate from Baden-Württemberg. Today the firm's HQ in Waldenbuch houses a chocolate exhibition, 'chocoworkshop' and a collection of square-shaped artworks.
Riesling is the dominant grape variety in the Hessen winegrowing areas of Rheingau and Bergstrasse. First mentioned in around 1500, its complex aromatics and lively acidity have given it the title 'king of German wines'. In 1775, the first late vintage was created on the Johannisberg Estate in the Rheingau, where, according to legend, the grape harvest was delayed by the late arrival of a horseback messenger.
Since 1558, the Upper Lusatian town of Pulsnitz has been producing gingerbread from eight artisanal bakeries and a lebkuchen factory. Every year on the first weekend in November, these specialities go on sale at the popular Pulsnitz gingerbread festival. At the gingerbread museum and demonstration workshop in the Haus des Gastes, you can see how baking traditions have changed over the years and even bake your own gingerbread. Open 365 days a year.