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Tableware and German Dining Culture

Culinary Germany starts with your eyes. Before the first drop reaches your tongue, the eyes already feast on a lovely set table. Luxurious china, fine silverware and sparkling glasses create an atmosphere of joyful anticipation. Because the most delicate meal, the most expensive wine and the most aromatic coffee are wasted if food and drinks are not presented properly.

The electric lights are dimmed, candles are lit, letting the faces of the people around the table glow. Now the food makes its entrance. Can you imagine something more elegant than a zander in a brown mustard crust presented on a virginal white plate from the Berliner Porzellanmanufaktur (a Berlin porcelain factory where the goods are produced largely by hand)? Or a tender shoulder of venison on an austere art deco plate from the Fürstenberg porcelain factory.
Coffee and cake
When the table is set with the elegant Nymphenburg or Ludwigsburger porcelain or when steaming coffee is poured from a Meißen coffee-pot into cups with the world famous onion pattern and the crossed swords on the bottom. And very often you will come upon the famous bone china from Villeroy & Boch - the elegant designs of the Chateau range, as well as the cheerful pattern of House & Garden. Just as in the Saarland, Rosenthal also moves with the times, having engaged artists like Gianni Versace or Jasper Morrison.

Just as popular as the afternoon tea in England is the German coffee break, especially on Sunday afternoons. The fine porcelain is filled with freshly-brewed coffee, and delicious pastries and home-made cake is served. Like in other European countries, coffee plays an important role in German social life. The coffee house Zum Arabischen Coffe Baum in Leipzig is one of the oldest continuously operating coffee houses in Europe which was first mentioned in records of 1556. Today it houses several cafes and restaurants serving specialty coffees, cake as well as other food and drinks. The third floor houses a coffee museum.

On the German table, cold beverages also come in style. Pilsener beer is typically served in an elegant flute. And turning to wine: the Riesling you drink with your fish sparkles green in a cut crystal glass and Sekt (German sparkling wine) bubbles perfectly in a long-stemmed flute.

Porcelain factories, silversmiths and glass works have a glorious tradition in Germany. Finely fashioned table settings and silverware, which in former times were reserved for royalty only, now decorate the dining tables of restaurants and hotels.