Merry Christmas, Frohe Weihnachten

How does this happen every year? One minute I’m looking at the calendar and it’s the beginning of December, and the next minute Christmas is barely a day away. Actually here in Germany it’s Christmas already, since the main part of the celebrating is done the night of the 24th. While that’s a little hard to get used to for someone raised on the Christmas-morning adrenaline rush (and really, what’s Christmas without the too-excited-to-sleep night before Christmas?), I’ve decided that the best thing is to embrace both traditions, which is exactly what we’ll be doing. After all, that means twice the Christmas fun!

But Christmas Eve is far from the start of holiday celebrating in Germany. In fact, it’s been going on for nearly four weeks already, in the form of the Weihnachtsmarkt. Otherwise known as the Christmas market, most medium-to-large cities stage one each December, usually in the heart of the old town. While the most famous ones may see more tourists than locals, most Germans wouldn’t dream of missing out on their yearly pilgrammage to the market to eat, drink and shop and catch up with friends. In other words, it’s still a very important part of local holiday tradition.

I’m short on time as we rush out the door to my inlaws’, but before I go I wanted to share a few images of this year’s Weihnachtsmarkt in Göttingen – in particular, all the things to eat and drink!

Göttingen’s market takes place in the large square in front of the medieval city hall. Little wooden structures house everything from jewelery to clothing to handmade crafts to fresh-baked bread…

…to popcorn (though despite the old-school font I think it’s a rather new addition to the canon of German holiday treats)…

…to one of my favorite things ever, gebrannte Mandeln (literally, burnt almonds). They’re almonds that have been roasted in a mixture of sugar, butter and cinnamon. Fresh from the roaster, they’re simply heavenly. But they’re good cold too – I always buy an extra packet and stash it away until after Christmas.

Flammkuchen, a specialty of southwest Germany and Alsace, has also gained tremendous popularity here in recent years. This stand bakes them to order in a huge wood-fired oven, little rounds of bread dough smeared with sour cream and a variety of toppings.

The classic is thinly-sliced onions and bacon, but this one has chunks of soft potato and cheese. Not that it wasn’t good, but I think I’ll stick with the classic next time.

The most popular Weihnachtsmarkt snack isn’t Flammkuchen, though, it’s Bratwurst, the famous German sausage. You can get one plain or as a Currywurst – sliced up and topped with ketchup and curry powder. Yes, it’s an acquired taste. I’m still in the process of acquiring it.

Holy cow, do you see the size of those sausages? They’re the famous 1/2-meter bratwursts – that’s one and a half feet long! One of those is enough to fuel some heavy-duty Christmas shopping.

They come in normal sizes too, though, and are best enjoyed dripping with ketchup and mustard like hot dogs back home.

Speaking of hot dogs, that’s something Lily most certainly wasn’t, even in her fetching winter coat. Luckily she discovered a convenient spot out of the rain.

And what to drink with all this food? Well, here there is really only one option. I mean there are other options, but you’d be crazy to even consider them. Everyone who comes to the market has to warm up with at least one glass of Glühwein, otherwise known as hot mulled wine. It’s so popular I think it replaces the blood in Germans’ veins each December. Everyone, young and old, drinks it (although for the really young there’s a nonalcoholic version), and the stands that sell it act as community meeting places. Everyone seems to run into half the people they know while drinking a Glühwein.

And I must say, it warms your fingers better than any gloves. Actually it warms you from head to toe, not to mention makes that last-minute shopping infinitely more bearable!

Merry Christmas everyone! May your holiday tables be overflowing with good food and even better company.

p.s. Menu for Hope ends tomorrow! If you haven’t donated yet, you still have time… but hurry!!





Glühwein is Christmas in Germany. Hot, spiced and boozy, it’s just the thing to thaw out frozen extremities and put a healthy glow back in your cheeks. I find it plenty strong with wine only, but many prefer it with a little extra shot of something. And while it may be lacking somewhat in atmosphere, the homemade stuff beats the pants off what you get at the Weihnachtsmarkt.

Serves: 8-10

2 (750ml) bottles red wine (nothing too expensive!)
3/4 cup (150g) sugar, or to taste
4 cinnamon sticks
8-10 whole cloves
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 orange, thinly sliced
1 mandarin, thinly sliced

rum, brandy or kirsch (optional)

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot combine all the ingredients (except the optional booze) and place over low heat. Cover tightly and bring to a gentle simmer (don’t let it boil, or the alcohol will evaporate!), stirring once or twice. Remove from the heat and let steep for 30 minutes. Just before serving, return to low heat for a few minutes. Strain out the aromatics and serve hot. For an extra kick, add a splash of rum, brandy or kirsch to each glass.

Menu for Hope 6

Complete the following: if it’s December, it must be time for…

Did you say Menu for Hope? Of course you did!

As I’m sure you already know, the Menu for Hope is an annual charity event run by food bloggers to raise money for those less fortunate than ourselves. It was initiated by Pim in December 2004 as a way to help victims of the Asian tsunami, and in the intervening years has helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for disaster and hunger relief around the globe. This year, like the past three, all money is going to the UN’s World Food Program, an organization dedicated to providing emergency food aid and carrying out rehabilitation and development programs. The WFP is the world’s largest food aid agency, working with over 1,000 other organizations in over 75 countries. In addition to providing food, the WFP helps hungry people to become self-reliant so that they escape hunger for good.

This year our monies are going to support a new initiative at the WFP called Purchase for Progress (P4P). P4P enables smallholder and low-income farmers to supply food to WFP’s global operation. P4P helps farmers improve farming practices and puts more cash directly into their pockets in return for their crops. It also helps buoy the local economy by creating jobs and income locally.  Many of us understand the importance of buying locally and supporting our local farms; P4P helps do the same for farmers in low income countries around the world. For all the details on the program click here.

And this is your chance to support it! All it takes is a small donation between now and December 25, even as low as $10, and not only will you be helping to fund the WFP’s activities, you’ll also be entering yourself in a raffle to win one of dozens and dozens (hundreds? thousands?) of absolutely incredible items donated by bloggers and business owners around the world. Honestly, there are so many things on offer your chances of winning are better than good, they’re phenomenal. (Trust me on this one – one year my mom won three different things!)


(code EU29)


This year I have decided to offer one lucky person a set of five cookbooks. Yes, you read that right: FIVE cookbooks. But they’re not just cookbooks, they’re so much more. Are you familiar with the legendary Culinaria series? Originally published in Germany, Culinaria books are the ultimate references for the foodie traveler, rolling a culinary encyclopedia, cookbook and travel guide into one. Each of these hefty volumes focuses on the cuisine of a single country (except for a few regional titles, like the Caribbean and Southeast Asia), and region by region explores the food, drink and traditions unique to each part of it. They delve deeply and thoroughly into every culinary topic imaginable – how iconic products and dishes are made, where local traditions originated, what’s harvested and how it’s used, and how the culinary landscape varies from one end of the country to the other – interspersing the educational content with dozens of mouth-watering regional recipes and hundreds of beautiful photos. Whether you’re a gourmet chef or an avid eater, a seasoned traveler or an armchair adventurer, I guarantee you’ll find these books informative, entertaining, and (most importantly) appetite-whetting!

If you win this item, you’ll be receiving Culinaria’s France, Italy, Spain, Greece and Germany in softcover format (which, although much more manageable than the original mammoth hardbacks, are as large and heavy as most normal hardcover books!). Think of this as a master’s degree in European gastronomy, without the hefty tuition fee. Imagine how you’ll wow your friends with your knowledge of how Catalonian olive oils differ from those made in the rest of Spain, where in Italy they farm the best oysters, and what household items best approximate the skinny rolling pins Greek grandmothers use to roll out phyllo dough. And if that doesn’t sound tempting enough, how about this: no matter where you’re reading this from, you’re eligible to win this. In other words, I will be happy to ship these books anywhere in the world (provided normally ships there, but as far as I know they ship just about everywhere).


1. Peruse the bid items on the lists at the regional hosts:
Europe (hosted by David Lebovitz)
Asia Pacific (hosted by Ed of Tomatom)
USA: East Coast (hosted by Helen of Tartelette)
USA: West Coast (hosted by Shauna of Gluten Free Girl)
Canada (hosted by Tara of Seven Spoons)
…and everything wine related @ Alder of Vinography
N.B. You must make sure to check the terms and conditions for the individual items BEFORE you bid, as some will come with restrictions regarding where they ship to or how long the item is valid for.

2. Go to the donation site at and make a donation by December 25th at the latest.

3. Please specify which item you’d like in the ‘Personal Message’ section in the donation form when confirming your donation. You must write in how many tickets per item, and please use the item code. The code for my item is EU29.

Each $10 you donate will give you one raffle ticket toward an item of your choice. For example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for UK01 and 3 tickets for EU02. Please write 2xUK01, 3xEU02

4. If your company matches your charity donation, please check the box and fill in the information so we can claim the corporate match.

5. Please check the box to allow us to see your email address so that we could contact you in case you win. Your email address will not be shared with anyone.

6. Check back on Chez Pim on Monday, January 18 for the results of the raffle. If you see that you are the winner of my item, please get in touch with me by email.

Thank you, once again, for your generosity and for helping to make this campaign something to be so proud of!

Oh, and good luck!!