Alsatian Cabbage and Pasta from the Cellar

Food

When asked what to try in Alsace I always say “of course, everything!”

But you risk to skip the important. Therefore, we will take a look at the non-touristy places.

Alsatian cuisine is austere (blood sausage), pragmatic (dumplings and potato pancakes), seasonal (dandelion salad) and refined at the same time (sturgeon in riesling sauce and foie gras).

Alsatian cuisine is wine- and beer friendly. Flammkuchen with bacon and pretzels with mustard sauce and even liver cheese balls – waiters do not conceal their judgmental looks when an adult orders a glass of water. If you choose to drink water and skip on the venison kidneys, be sure to try local coffee and a guglhupf.

Alsatian cuisine is wine- and beer friendly.

There are many strange dishes in the Alsatian cuisine, including the liver cheese balls or venison kidneys. But the most memorable one, and usually a point of agreement to any picky tourist is the cabbage. No, the

Cabbage

A symphony of taste: at first thinly chopped cabbage is fermented, then slightly smoked and cream is added at the end, smoked cabbage belongs to Alsace like the famous stork. The cabbage serves as a heavenly bed for poached sturgeon or any white fish. Add a glass of semisweet Riesling and Alsatian happiness guaranteed.

Turnip

Alsatian cuisine was food for the poor back in the day.  Instead of cabbage they used turnip – a white, non-bitter variety, soft and juicy. A turnip was cut into long, thin laces and fermented in barrels like cabbage. Fermentation not only preserved the available vitamins but also created new ones. The Alsatians called this turnip Kellenüedelle  (meaning pasta from the cellar). Today this dish can be bought separately at farmers’ markets and in stores, ask for süeri rüewe. With smoked sausages, it’s not just a fine dinner, it’s a magical portal to medieval history. I will explain later why you need to travel to Alsatian history.

Add a glass of semisweet Riesling and Alsatian happiness guaranteed.

Speck and Salt

Food of Francs and Barbarians was simple and austere. The silk, spice and other trade roads were hard to reach. Unlike with Romans, travel was not in question for forest originated tribes. They used salted meat and bacon, different types of animal fat. 

Alsatian cuisine was ruled by church prescription: between fasting and feast of the stomach. Food was carefully prescribed by the bishops, frequent checks. On the market and in the gardens you would typically find onions, different types of turnips, cereals (of which they make beer) and other “heavy” food for the stomach.

 Keep in mind, during the birth of Alsatian cuisine, gluttony was an unforgivable sin. Gratitude for what is on the table (dependence on the harvest) and the anticipation of holidays (dependence on the church) paired with tart Riesling were the main “spices” of the Alsatian. 

Cabbage Alsace Style*

In the absence of salted turnip, you can take regular fermented cabbage, finely chopped. * Recipe adapted and published with the permission of an Alsatian grandmother.

For 6 servings:

  • 200 gr. fermented smoked cabbage (ideally fermented turnip)
  • 1 cup full fat cream
  • 30 grams of butter
  • 200 gr. champignons or other quickly cooked mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cubes of vegetable broth
  • chicken, turkey – 1kg, tofu (pressed) – 500 g cut into cubes
  • French seasoning for turkey
  1. Rinse the cabbage in cold water. Squeeze out juice and water. Simmer in hot water until tender and unpleasant aroma disappeared. Drain the water. Add smoky flavour available (1/4 tsp liquid smoke will do).
  2. Fry the proteins or tofu in butter, that was cut into slices. Remove your protein when cooked, do not move away far away and keep warm. Add coarsely chopped mushrooms. Roast until ruddy.
  3. Put the cream in the microwave and heat on low to reach the room temperature. Add cream almost immediately and crumb up a cube of broth. When everything is mixed, add cabbage and our protein, reheat. Adjust the salt.

Optionally: cut white bread toast into small cubes, sprinkle with pepper and salt, fry to a crust in butter in the same pan and sprinkle with this the prepared dish before serving. You can do the same with bacon.

Recipe for fermented and smoked cabbage by @luykum.

Best Places to Try Alsatian Food in Strasbourg

The pink icons on the map are non-touristic restaurants in Strasbourg. All icons are clickable. If you click on an icon, a brief description of the restaurant will appear.

Where to eat sour cabbage

 Your “hole in a wall” with ambient and fantastic local cuisine. You need to book very much in advance but it is worth it. The staff speaks excellent German and English. Ask for süeri rüewe from October to March:

Restaurant La Coccinelle 
22 rue Sainte Madeleine 
67000 Strasbourg

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