Monday, 9 December 2013

More Than Mulled Wine: Feuerzangenbowle

It seems that everywhere you go in the UK at the moment has a German-themed Christmas Market. Last year I decided to go to Germany and visit a real German Christmas Market to see how authentic the UK ones are. The most traditional German Christmas Markets are supposed to be in Bavaria, where temperatures in winter plummet well below zero and you are pretty much guaranteed to have a decent dusting of snow; so I headed to Nuremberg for their traditional Christkindlesmarkt a few weekends before Christmas.

All in all, whilst it was an enjoyable experience, I can conclude that the British versions are pretty authentic – the Nuremberg market was massively over-crowded, there were rows and rows of stalls selling Liebkuchen and tourist tat and it was essential to drink to stay warm. The temperature was somewhere around minus five degrees and even at ten o’clock in the morning, all the locals seemed to be tucking into something to warm their cockles (or Herzmuscheln, more likely). Now, I’m sure most people are familiar with mulled wine (Glühwein), but I discovered something even better… Feuerzangenbowle, which loosely translates as “fire tongs punch”.

To make it, you put red wine into a bowl and add cloves, orange and cinnamon sticks, and then heat it; thus creating a mulled wine. On top of this mulled wine a metal grate is put on top and a rum-soaked sugar loaf is placed on it. This sugar loaf is then set alight, which creates a great sense of theatre (similar to our lighting of the Christmas pudding), but also allows the sugar and fruit to caramelise and then fall into the bowl to make a sweet rum/mulled wine punch, which certainly packs quite a punch! I was even more surprised when I was asked if I wanted an extra shot of rum in my mug? Well, it was very cold and I needed to keep that cold at bay, so…

What better way to start your day? Prost und Frohe Weihnachten!

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