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Love it or hate it, applewine is Frankfurt's local poison. Made from fermented apples, apfelwein (ebbelwoi or äbbelwoi in local dialect) contains about 5 percent alcohol, is drunk in all seasons and has an acquired taste not appreciated by all. It's best downed at one of the many Ebbelwoi taverns dotted across town, where you can order a bembel (jug) of the stuff to share with friends on bench-style seating. A fresh evergreen wreath over the door indicates that a pub has new wine. Ebbelwoi is not just said to be a good thirst-quencher, but apparently also is good for the cholesterol and oxidant levels in the blood, and is said to help the body resist a variety of complaints including thrombosis, viruses, cancer and heart diseases. If you survive drinking the stuff in the first place, of course. Make it more palatable by mixing it with sparkling water (sauergespritzt) or lemonade (süssgespritzt). You can also enjoy liquid apples by ordering a plain Apfelsaft (apple juice) or Apfelsaftschorle, a deliciously refreshing mix of apple juice and soda water.
Of course Frankfurt wouldn’t be considered for representation in the parliament unless it had at least one beer produced in the city. Thankfully, Frankfurt has two, Binding and Henninger, both of which are pilsners. Unfortunately (again), neither beer inspires much more than an ‘it’s drinkable’ grumble from the locals or the tourists, but it promises to be the cheapest beer on the menu. It is said that it takes seven minutes to pour a proper pils, so you needn’t fear that you are experiencing poor service when the waiter disappears for a while.
Frankfurt’s local food specialties include Handkäse mit Musik; curdled quark cheese in a cylindrical shape and rolled by hand. It is usually eaten with only a knife, and takes careful preparation. A thin layer of butter is spread over dark brown bread, and then a slice of the cheese, along with a sampling of the Musik; the vinegar, onions, and caraway seeds. Unfortunately, the only instrument playing music after you eat it will be the trumpet (your digestive tract). Comments from non-locals range from ‘interesting’ to ‘tastes like a sweaty sock’, but it’s fairly addictive stuff once you develop a taste for it.
Apparently Frankfurt’s favourite citizen (Johann von Goethe) was most fond of the city’s other favourite dish, Grüne Sosse (green sauce). It contains parsley, sorrel, dill, burnet, borage, chervil and chives, and is usually mixed with sour cream or quark, so it is not light eating by any means. Eaten with hard-boiled eggs or brisket of beef and boiled potatoes, it tastes a bit like fresh cucumbers with accompanying salad spices, and usually varies a lot from pub to pub. It’s one of few German dishes vegetarians can also enjoy.
Bethmännchen, biscuits with marzipan in the centre and almond slices on the outside, were allegedly first served to Herr Simon Moritz von Bethmann for afternoon tea in 1840, and are now a local Frankfurt delicacy. Each carefully crafted biscuit has three almond slivers decorating the outside, which are believed to represent the three sons of the famous Frankfurt philanthropist and banker.