All those loaves
Today, while food trucks in other countries serve up tacos and burgers for lunch, Germany sticks to standard bakeries, which all stock "belegte Brötchen," rolls with a various fillings -- the real German fast food.
The variety of baked goods can be a little perplexing when encountered for the first time: there's farmers bread, mixed bread, stone oven bread, sunflower bread, pumpkin bread, five seed bread and so on.
But don't let all these loaves overwhelm you. Just visit a local bakery, or Bäckerei and have a look for yourself. All of it is good. And if you have a sweet tooth, most bakeries also have a confectioner (or Konditor) attached -- so there's cake and pastry aplenty.
Germans were baking nutritious whole-grain bread long before the organic health food renaissance. While some supermarket chains have started baking their own goods in-store, most Germans swear by their local corner bakery and most German supermarkets actually come with their own little local bakery attached.
Becoming a baker continues to be a highly regarded trade, and German bakers complete high-level, creative training that most other countries do not have.
There are German standards for bread quality and sizes, and each year the German Institute for Bread announces its "bread of the year."
In 2018, it's Dinkel-Vollkornbrot, spelt whole grain bread.
Eaten at most meals, bread still forms a cornerstone of the German diet and culture -- even though some of the established larger bakeries have had problems recruiting new bakers in recent years, as fewer and fewer young people have an interest in learning the strenuous trade.
That doesn't mean that there are no artisan bakers trying to create new types of bread for a global audience in hip cities like Hamburg, Berlin or Munich. Bakeries such as Zeit für Brot, Soluna Brot und Öl or Springer are basing their products on natural and local ingredients to create new, delicious products -- while still strongly rooted in the tradition of German craftsmanship.
Types of German bread well worth a try
Brötchen (bread rolls): This is your standard white bread roll, which is not known as Brötchen everywhere in Germany. Some regions have their own word, including Semmeln, Wecken, Schrippen or Rundstück (literally the "round piece"). There are also different variations of Brötchen with sesame, poppy or pumpkin seed sold as whole-grain rolls.
Milchbrötchen (milk roll): A variation of the roll made from fluffy white dough prepared with milk, often with raisins or chocolate chips added -- making it a favorite for little Germans at the breakfast table.
Hörnchen: Another breakfast staple (especially on Sundays), Hörnchen or "little horns" are the German version of croissants, albeit with more butter. Coming in a similar half-moon shape, Hörnchen are delicious with jam or even chocolate spread.
Vollkornbrot (whole grain bread): Most loaves on the shelves of German bakeries are of the dark brown and healthy variety, and whole grain bread accounts for many of these. It is commonly eaten with cheese or cold meats in the evening, and it is actually protected by a law making it mandatory for Vollkornbrot to have a whole-grain flour content of at least 90%.