The oldest and largest state in Germany, Bavaria is a place of superlatives. There’s the 3,000-metre Zugspitze, the highest mountain in the country; the largest and most famous fair in the world (the Oktoberfest); and what is possibly the most fairtytale-like castle ever built – the 19th-century Neuschwanstein.
It’s also among the healthiest places to live, ranking fourth in a nation-wide survey of ‘people living a completely healthy life’, and comes in second in terms of its population: 13 million residents enjoying an area almost eight times the size of Cyprus, or 70,000 square kilometres of gorgeous forests, mountains, rivers and lakes…
Perhaps the most striking Bavarian superlative is its food: fare that’s rich, varied, and incredibly tasty. From the humble pretzel (which may well have been invented in the region) to the delicate Prinzregententorte (a Bavarian torte consisting of at least six thin layers of sponge cake interlaid with chocolate buttercream and topped with apricot and a dark chocolate glaze), this German state is King of Cuisine. Especially when it comes to the more meaty dishes.
Schweinshaxn (roasted ham hock) is particularly popular in Bavaria. Tafelspitz (boiled veal or beef in broth, served with minced apples and horseradish) is another favourite, borrowed from the Austrians across the border. And then we’ve got the sausages: Bierwurst (a smoked Brühwurst sausage with a garlicky flavour, seasoned with black peppercorns, paprika and mustard seeds for flavour); Gelbwurst, (or yellow sausage, made from pork, veal spices and – traditionally – brains!); Weißwurst (a traditional Bavarian sausage of minced veal and pork back bacon); and Regensburger Wurst (or ‘Knacker’, boiled sausages with a pork filling which take their name from the Bavarian city of Regensburg.
However, if there’s one thing that truly typifies Bavarian cuisine, it’s beer. Almost half of all German breweries are in Bavaria and, according to the 16th century Reinheitsgebot (or Bavarian Purity Law) the production of local beers is strictly regulated, especially with regards to the ingredients. All of which, arguably, make Bavarian beers completely typical of the state: superlative!