Expat life: German food items I miss being able to buy

Expat life: German food items I miss being able to buy

I’ve lived in Denmark for about three and a half years now, and I currently have no plans of moving back to Germany in the near future (sorry, Mama!). I love many things about Denmark and Copenhagen, and as you can tell, the incredible food and restaurant scene is one of them.

But as I’m sure all expats will agree, there are some foods from “back home” that we grew up with, that were our favorite dish when we were little, or that were staples in our pantry or fridge that we simply can’t get our hands on in our new country. For Australians, it might be Vegemite, for Americans marshmallow fluff – whatever it is for you, you know the feeling of absolutely missing it. Of course, we learn to adapt and work with what we have. We google replacements. We attempt to make our own. We accept the fact that maybe some things we can only eat when we go back home.

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Many big supermarkets here in Copenhagen, like SuperBrugsen and the huge Bilka at Fields, have shelves full of “international” items. That includes your typical TexMex items and pancake mix, but also real, imported goods from e.g. England, Mexico, and of course America. Unfortunately, the German cuisine seems way less popular, so I haven’t been able to find any typical German foods anywhere.

German foods I miss being able to buy

This past Christmas, though, we took advantage of our new car and actually drove down to Germany. In addition to being unexpectedly hassle-free, this also gave me the unique chance to hit the grocery store and pack a box full of items that I’d been dying to eat. I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited about grocery shopping!

What I brought home to Copenhagen is a funny mix of things – most of which I never would have guessed I’d miss, and which I probably only very rarely had in my pantry when I still lived in Germany. Life is funny that way. So, here’s what I brought back!

German foods I miss: Gemüsebrühe Gemüsebrühe (vegetable stock)

I know what you’re going to say. “You can buy vegetable stock in Denmark!” – trust me, I’ve tried, and it’s just not the same. Danish bouillon cubes are too weak in their taste – I just find that the German version tastes much better. I have my mom send this to me, too, when I run out. I use it all the time to make soups.

German foods I miss: Sauerkirschen Sauerkirschen (sour cherries)

These are not to be confused with the Danish “kirsebærsovs”, cherry sauce, that you can buy by the glass. These are preserved, sour-ish cherries (they’re not really that sour, but they’re not sweetened). They taste amazing on fresh waffles, are used for cakes (like the famous Black Forest Cake), and people love to put them in punches.

German foods I miss: Wachsbrechbohnen Wachsbrechbohnen (young wax beans)

A very specific item that I don’t think I ever bought when I lived in Germany. These beans are already cooked and therefore soft. I have a very specific purpose in mind for these: my mom’s bean salad with raw onions and a creme fraiche dressing. Which the boyfriend is going to hate. Which means there’s more for me!

German foods I miss: Gourmet Remoulade Gourmet Remoulade (remoulade)

I know and love the Danish remoulade, but the German version is just totally different, so don’t go comparing the two. For most of these food items, I’m pretty indifferent about the brand, but when it comes to Remoulade, it has to be Thomy Gourmet Remoulade. It just tastes best – don’t even try to argue. It’s awesome with fries, on egg toast, or as a base for deviled eggs.

German foods I miss: Semmelknödel Semmelknödel (bread dumplings)

Dumplings are a classic part of German cuisine. You’ll find two varieties: potato and bread. Personally, I vastly prefer the bread dumplings. You can make them at home using day-old bread (a little like American bread stuffing in a ball), but these pre-made ones that just have to be cooked in water are delicious as well. They are often served with classic roast and are great gravy sponges!

German foods I miss: Maggi sauce Maggi (seasoning sauce)

I struggled how to describe this sauce, so I checked Wikipedia, which calls it a “dark, soy sauce-type hydrolyzed vegetable protein-based condiment sauce” – there ya go! Some Germans will put this in and on everything, but my main use for it is a specific spaghetti salad recipe, which just does not taste the same without heaps of this dark, tangy condiment.

German foods I miss: Weisse Bohnen Weiße Bohnen (canned white beans)

This is me being pedantic (and a bit lazy). I know that white beans aren’t exactly rare, but in order to make my dad’s special recipe for white bean soup, I need the canned ones, and I haven’t been able to find them anywhere. That bean soup is awesome, mainly because it contains just as much sausage as it does beans!

So, there you have it – the German foods I didn’t know I couldn’t live without! If you know of any place that sells any of these in Denmark, please let me know and you will be guaranteed my eternal gratitude.

I’m curious: what foods do you miss having in your pantry? Are they typical for your home country, or rather random, like my list? Share in the comments below!

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9 thoughts on “Expat life: German food items I miss being able to buy”

  • I’m from the USA and I’ve never had Marshmallow Fluff, but there are a ton of things that I miss, but the things I miss most are ones that I used for Mexican cooking, like proper corn (majs) tortillas (not that half flour, half corn junk they sell in the stores here), monterrey jack cheese, a variety of different fresh and dried chiles, mole sauce and Ibarra’s Mexican chocolate. For the traditional american stuff, I miss cheap fake maple syrup…I know there’s real maple syrup in Denmark, but most American’s don’t grow up with that because its very expensive, we get ‘maple flavored’ syrup that tastes good and has zero nutritional value. Also, canned pumpkin, and pie of any sort and the awful but oddly comforting Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Dinner.

    • Hi Kristen, I’m totally with you on the cheese! The different cheeses I’ve had in the US are just not the same here. For the other things you mentioned: if you live in Copenhagen, try the huge Bilka store at Fields, they have that “pancake syrup”, canned pumpkin, and Kraft Mac & cheese for sure! :)

    • Hi Kristen, they sell half corn half flour tortillas here in Denmark?! I’ve only even been able to find pure flour. No hint of corn anywhere. I just got back from a trip to the US with lots of corn tortillas in tow, and renewed energy to try making my own. But I would love to give the ones you mention a try. Where did you see them?
      Thanks very much in advance! Laura

    • Hi Kristen, I don’t have my own go-to recipe for bread dumplings, but this one seems pretty accurate to me – let me know if you try it! I’m thinking of posting the bean salad recipe here, so I’ll ping you the link when I have ;)

  • So true! I’ve lived in Denmark now for 7 months and as an Aussie I do miss my vegemite! Though luckily I have had many visitors so I have a good stock pile to keep me going! I miss lamb as this is a hugely popular staple meat in Australia but we find the lamb here both expensive and not as flavourful. I also miss Milo – a chocolate malt powder you mix with milk but unlike other variations like Nesquick this one is the texture of crumbs so you get a layer of crunchy chocolate crumb on top of the milk – yum! two strange things I miss are air-popped Sea Salt and Cider Vinegar popcorn (so addictive!) and my “Aussie Bodies” protein shakes! I’m off back to Australia to visit in February – just in time for mango season!

  • Hi Laura ~

    Love your blog!

    I’m an American and there are a ton of foods that I miss from home. Being a coffee lover, I think the thing I miss most is refrigerated coffee creamers. They come in a ton of different flavors but my favorites are Peppermint Mocha, Coconut Cream and Southern Butter Pecan. I’ve come up with a substitute using sweetened condensed milk with vanilla and/or almond flavorings but it’s just not the same!

    I also miss grape jelly -the spreadable jam that you put on toast or make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with. PB&J just isn’t the same without grape jelly.

    In the summer I miss being able to make desserts with Cool Whip whipped topping.

    I ALWAYS bring Aunt Jemima syrup, Lawry’s seasoned salt and PAM cooking spray back from my trips to the States.

    :-)

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