Specialties from Duesseldorf

cooked mussels on a plate

Düsseldorf is on the Rhine river, about 30 miles north of Cologne. It is not very far from the border of Belgium, placing it further north than France. It is not as famous as in-your-face Cologne, but there is a quiet grandeur on the Koenigsallee built on wealth derived from historically large amounts of industry.

Of course, with industry comes industry workers, who like Kirmes, Schutzenfeste, and Carnival.

There is great diversity in the traditional food. It is mostly simple fare made from inexpensive ingredients, but the Düsseldörfer cling to their traditions and Altbier.

  • Try, for instance, Blutwurst, which is sausage made with chopped, cooked pork - leftovers from slaughtering - and fresh blood. It can also contain brined meats, bread crumbs, offal, onions, oats, milk, thyme, and marjoram. After it is packed in sausage casings it is heated, which turns the sausage brown. It can also be lightly smoked and/or air-dried. One popular way to eat blood sausage is spread with mustard, lightly breaded and fried, often as Abendbrot.
  • Halve Hahn - made from a half a double rye roll (another specialty), buttered, with a thick slice of aged, Gouda cheese, onions, mustard, ground paprika and sour pickles.
  • Himmel un Ääd - a dish of mashed potatoes and apples fortified with slices of blutwurst. Caramelized onions are served with this deliciously hearty meal.
  • Mussels in white wine broth. Served with buttered rye bread, salt and a glass of beer, an empty shell is used to eat the "Miesmuscheln" instead of silverware. Düsseldorf is quite far from the Rhine delta, where these mussels were traditionally gathered, but with transportation up the river being so easy, it is a much-loved dinner.
  • Reibekuchen is like Kartoffelpuffer, but these are drizzled with Rübensyrup (beet syrup - like golden syrup) and served on pumpernickel slices with a side of applesauce.
  • Rheinischer Sauerbraten is marinated in red wine and vinegar for several days, then slowly braised, like a pot roast. What some people don't know is that it used to be made from horse meat. There are very few "Pferdemetzger" (horse meat butchers) left in Germany and consumption has decreased during the last several decades, so most Sauerbraten today is made with beef. Classic sides are potato dumplings, applesauce, and red cabbage.