There are these regional specialties that aren’t really any more. Black Forest gateau, Obadzda and of course Frankfurter, where the actual description of the goods, i.e. “sausage”, is often even omitted because everyone knows what it is anyway. You can find them everywhere, in the supermarket, at folk festivals, at every bakery to take away, from the North Sea to the Alps and from the Rhine to the Oder.
And then there are the things you’ve never heard of when you’re new to a region. Cider and green sauce are two of the most prominent representatives in the culinary field. They simply don’t exist anywhere else, although they enjoy great popularity in the region, are the protagonists of entire festivals, and are even available in numerous varieties in the supermarket.
Light beer from Bavaria has enjoyed a similar triumph as that of Frankfurt. For example, if it was simply not available in Leipzig in the noughties – which led people who would rather not appear by name in this text to undertake beer expeditions to Franconia and fill the Saxon cellar with their loot – that’s how the cool teenagers drink nothing else on the Karl Heine Canal in Plagwitz. This success story can also be observed right on the doorstep: at the Wasserhäuschen in Frankfurt there is not one type of light beer, but dozens.
Manufacturer does not require any special ingredients
But why is Bavarian beer and a simple sausage so successful, while the green sauce is denied national success? Why hasn’t cider conquered the Bavarian beer gardens long ago? One person who has an answer is Alexander Ebner. He is a social scientist and holds the professorship for political economy and economic sociology at the Goethe University in Frankfurt.
Ebner says: A regional product that wants to convince worldwide needs very specific requirements. “Regional products such as Frankfurter sausages could become a kind of export hit because they appealed to the masses, used widely available raw products and because they were adaptable to different cultures.” Precisely because Frankfurter sausages are not seasoned particularly unusually, many people like them. In addition, the inclined manufacturer does not need any special ingredients – and that is different with green sauce, for example.
As is well known, the dip requires seven different herbs that are not so easy to obtain elsewhere. While in Frankfurt’s Kleinmarkthalle you can buy pre-packaged packets of herbs that you can chop yourself and the upper wheels look directly at the fields on which the greens grow, neither the herb mixture nor all the individual herbs are so easy to obtain in other large cities. There is no green sauce without borage, it’s that simple. And Ebner gives another reason for its relative failure: Like apple wine, it is “rather difficult to convey the taste”. Green sauce is considered bitter by many, and it’s similar with Ebbelwei.
Tastes are different. But: Bitter, sour and spicy are generally more difficult to sell to people who are not used to it for a long time. “Like hand cheese, which is also common in the region, cider is also a culinary product of the impoverished Hessian peasantry, so it is hardly suitable for export because of this reputation alone,” adds the economist. Wait a minute – beer didn’t exactly emerge as a high-end drink.
Ebner explains: As a fermentation product, beer was widespread worldwide in all social classes. And, as a local journalist who appreciates her ribs has to admit: the malty, mild taste of a Franconian Helle is certainly more pleasing than the tangy acidity of a service tree. Another important aspect for conquering new markets is penetration in one of the most important of them, the United States.
There, the “branding” varied from time to time, as Ebner says. For example, “Frankfurter” became “Viennese” in everyday parlance. But when immigrants managed to feed specialties into the migrant-dominated society overseas, a worldwide triumphal procession always followed. Ebner refers to a particularly well-known product: the hamburger made from fried meatballs, which was probably used by German migrants as provisions for the crossing from Hamburg to America.
Apparently no Hessian thought of taking a portion of Green Sauce with them on their crossing to the New World. How is she supposed to know how good green sauce is? Those regional specialties that don’t make it to international fame shouldn’t necessarily be seen as losers, however. Because, as Ebner explains: “The fact that there are local products that also stand for a certain local culinary specialization should be seen as a contribution to cultural enrichment – and thus as part of local folklore, which is also relevant to tourism.”
The historically grown differences in cuisine or architecture are just one of the many attractions of travel. Tourists have to come within the narrow green sauce limits to enjoy this fresh side dish and the right drink.