Looking for Fresh Chiles? Travel to Munich, Germany
by Harald Zoschke
Just steps from the Munich city
hall ("Rathaus") you'll find ...
The world is quickly becoming a global village even beyond the Internet. Immigration and migration, fueled by changing job markets, business, and leisure travel are the main factors leading to an increasingly interesting variety of food products--even in Germany. And this means a wide range of chile peppers from all over the world.
For more than 110 years, Munich, Germany has been hosting a huge outdoor market. Within the last two decades, it became a fancy gourmet marketplace with more than 140 vendors
... fancy Viktualienmarkt with produce and
other specialties from all over the world.
In the Viktualienmarkt, local shoppers, tourists as well as gourmet restaurant buyers can find some of the freshest produce, fruit, game, meat, seafood, sausage, eggs, butter, honey and more. Especially the fresh produce is available from all over the world, and this increasingly includes chile peppers. Just two years ago, I could hardly find fresh Cayenne, let alone Jalapeños. As this little photo essay shows, the summer of 2001 tells a totally different story. So why don't you join me for a little walk across Germany's most famous outdoor marketplace!!
Right at the start I discovered these colorful hot Italian chiles.
Peperoni (spelled with an "i" here) typically come from Italy, too. The ones here are from Spain.
Also from Thailand:
Fresh green peppercorns.
A true delicacy!
Fresh fiery-hot red Thai peppers, green hot "Pfefferoni" (a frequent German pronounciation of Pepperoni). Many other ingredients required for authentic Thai cuisine are available, too, including fresh lemon grass and ginger root.
If in doubt, let's call it Pfefferoni:
For those who prefer Mexican chiles, there are pickled Jalapeños, and even fresh ones.
The fresh ones come at a price, though: About US$ 13.50 a pound (that's why many German chileheads are starting to grow their own - chiles, that is.)
Also those seeking less heat will find a wide variety of capsicum at
Viktualienmarkt - a much wider selection than at any supermarket over
here. After all, this is not Albuquerque, NM ;-)
Besides the regular colorful bunch of bell peppers, I found the pale yellow Spanish Spitzpaprika (center) and - particularly trendy right now - Mini Paprika or Minibell (front), just slightly larger than an egg.
Note: Bell peppers are called Paprika in most parts of Europe.
The bright red, sweet and only slightly pungent Feher peppers come from Hungary.
You're not in New Mexico here: One booth is selling all kinds of ristras, including New Mexican chiles and Mexican Cascabel chiles.
Also garlic and dried eggplant are sold on strings here.
But it's not all foreign chiles offered here. I discovered a variety called Münchner Gärtner Chillie (Munich gardener's chile). The compact little plants were covered in blossoms and upright-growing pods which eventually turn red and are supposed to be HOT.
Update May, 2005: Dave and his lovely wife Mary Jane came visiting. Renate and I had a chance to show them around this marvelous market in Munich. After verifying the abundance of chile pepper offerings here, the couple had to sample a variety of Bavarian specialties, including beer, Weißwurst (a sausage made of veal and pork with herbs and spices) and Obatzda (a spicy cheese spread made with brie and cream cheese and paprika powder).
We also managed to get them a private tour of the Hofbräuhaus brewery, complete with beer tasting. Not a bad start for a trip to Germany :-)
Most chileheads (including Dave and me) love beer, which makes Viktualienmarkt a perfect place. Part of the marketplace is a nicely sized "Biergarten", a staple of Bavarian lifestyle. The mix of people there is as colorful as the chiles. If you are fortunate, you'll find a Munich native who will tell you stories about the city and this historical market (many speak English here).
By the way, a real Munich citizen's trademark is his/her dachshund, which is called "Zamperl" in Bavarian. Of course it would come along to the market and to the beer garden to join the excitement.
I used to live in Munich for several years, and it's still one of my favorite cities. The availability of so many chiles nowadays is just another reason for frequent visits (besides the fabulous Bavarian beer, that is ...)
If you go:
Public transportation: Suburban Railway (S-Bahn) S 1-8, subway (U-Bahn) U 3/6 Marienplatz, bus 52 Viktualienmarkt, streetcar (Tram) 17/18 Reichenbachplatz. Best bet is a one-day or 24-hour ticket (Tageskarte). München and its suburbs have an excellent public transportion system.)
By Automobile: See MapQuest Map
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