Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Franken vs. Bayern (Franconia vs. Bavaria)

You hear "Franken" all the time............the newspaper "The Fränkischer Tag", the Franconian International School, Fränkische Schweiz (link in English),  you see the red and white flags. But you don´t know what that means? Paßt sho or Bass´d scho  (Fränkisch for everything from, that´s okay! to great). It´s a bit confusing.
Photo credit: Wikipedia

 See, in this area, you are not just German, you are FRÄNKISCH. 
To simplify, and make a long, long story short just prior to 1803, the area was broken up like this. Each area governing themselves, by rule of Dukes, Bishops or Kings. 

In the time between 1803 and 1806 most of what we now know as Franconia was given to the Kingdom of  Bavaria. And they are still mad about it. The Frankisch Hymn is sometimes played before sporting events, not the Bavarian (Song and text here).  The Frankisch people take great pride in their culture and heritage, which is why while you will see the blue and white flags of Bavaria on official state or government buildings, you won´t see them too often in the private sphere at beer gardens, restaurants or festivals. That´s also why blue and white is a decorating color combination you don´t see often. In other areas of Bavaria, it´s almost all you see (especially Munich). 
Today, Bavaria looks like this. The Franconia areas in red.

The area is broken up into Upper Franconia/Ober Franken (capital: Bayreuth), Middle Franconia/Mittel Franken (Ansbach) and Lower Franconia/Unter Franken (Würzburg).

While it is all "Franken", each area has it´s own character, regional specialties and dialect (variation on Hoch Deutsch, or the high German we learn in school). There are many variations between the Fränkisch regions, but here is a general Fränkisch/German online dictionary. In spoken Fränkisch, you won´t hear a "t" sound, for instance, with the exception of "Senft" (mustard), which actually doesn´t have a "t" in it. Go figure.  The regional differences range from pronunciation (Main River pronounced Mai or Mee) to those you will never figure out on your own (like "Gimmer?" for Gehen wir jetzt? or Want to go now?). For those in the Bamberg area, which has it´s own specific dialect, I recommend this book which translates to both German and English.

This makes it very difficult for a new German speaker. But there´s a reason. Take a look at that map of the area, pre-Bavaria. Each area was self-governed, and also had their own dialect. The "Bavarian" dialect also has variations, although not as vast, as it was a Kingdom since around 550 AD, though with various borders. 
Fränkische Bratwurst 

Fränkisch food is an umbrella term for the food in the Franconian region. While it is similar to Bavarian food, you won´t find much of the Bavarian Weisswurst served here, or Weizenn (wheat) beer. Conversly, the Southern portions of Bavaria don´t serve much Pils beer.  Franken is known for pork dishes (esp. Schaüferla - pork shoulder), Franconian Bratwurst (made from pork shoulder) and Kloß (potato dumplings), as well as carp, but each region has it´s own specialties. 

Lower Franconia (largest city: Würzburg)

  • Wine Country! An easy way to tell if your wine is from Franconia is to look for the distinctive shape of the Bocksbeutel
  • Franconian Hagebutter or Rosehips Jam
  • Mainfranken Beer- This is registered with the EU as a PGI (Protected Geographical Indication- These are foodstuffs closely linked to a geographical location. They may not be produced elsewhere). 8 breweries currently produce it. 
  • Fränkischer Zweibelkuchen (Onion cake)
  • Meefischli (Würzburg) Fish from the Main
  • Fränkischer Obster - Franconian fruit brandy. Also registered as a PGI. This must be produced using Franconian apples and/or pears. It is so popular in the Unterfranken area that there are over 15,000!!!!! distilleries! 
  • Mainfränkische Meterbratwurst- which is, you guessed it, a meter long. 
Middle Franconia (largest city: Nürnberg)

  • Nürnberger Bratwurst - also registered as a PGI. These are made of pork (without tendons) and pork belly, seasoned with marjoram. Served three in a roll or "Drei im Weggla" (photosource: 
  • Fränkischer Sauerbraten
  • Nürnberg Lebkuchen (Gingerbread)
  • Nürnberg Christkindles Glühwein

Upper Franconia 
  • Beer country! Cities especially known for their beer include Bamberg and Hof. Franken Bierland is a great website for all things about beer in Franken. 
  • Bamberger - essentially a croissant
  • Rauch Bier - (smoked beer) from Bamberg
  • Hofbeer - from the city of Hof (another product registered as PGI with the EU). Only 5 breweries exist, making 16 different kinds of beer. 
  • Hofschlappen beer - again, from Hof, brewed only in June since 1430. 
  • Coburger Bratwurst - made from a minimum of 15% veal or beef, the only seasonings allowed are salt, pepper, nutmeg and lemon zest. Typically grilled over pine cones. 
    Want to learn more about our regional specialities? Check out this website in English! 
Want to celebrate all things Franken? Come to Tag der Franken (Day of Franken) held annually in a different city every year. This year, on July 6, the celebration is in Ochenfurt. 

1 comment:

krishwala said...

Hi! Do you have recommendations for brunch/breakfast restaurants to get weisswurst?