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And if anyone thinks that all delicacy is lost as soon as the common tuber is deployed, they obviously haven’t yet inhaled the aroma of lightly salted fried potatoes with smoked bacon, or of potatoes boiled in their skins with a smooth, creamy leek sauce.
Luxembourgers were even more appreciative of these dishes when the simple man’s truffels, imported to Europe from South America in the XVIth century, formed one of their basic foods for many decades, along with bread and milk. "The farmer knows it’s Sunday when he has had potatoes eighteen times in a row", runs a well-known saying from about 1850, in the then young Grand Duchy.
Authentic Luxembourg cooking can be accurately described as: natural, simple, unaffected, hearty and without frills!
Does the gastronomy reflect the country and its inhabitants? Yes, it does, since the gastronomic culture of every nation is closely bound up with the surrounding geographical conditions, historical developments, social characteristics, the mentality of the people and the way they live.
With the Grand Duchy, this means that numerous recipes are woven into the rhythm of life of the farmer’s world that has shaped huge swathes of Luxembourg society until well into the XXth century. Added to this is the fact that the country has always been a border area, a crossroads for widely varying European cultures. After the Celts, the Romans, the Teutons and the Franks had left their mark on the area, the Burgundians, the Spanish, the Austrians, the Dutch and the Germans did the same, and all these influences naturally found their way into the cooking pots.
Ultimately, it is the turbulent historical events that this small country has had to endure over the centuries which explain the international nature of Luxembourg gastronomic culture. The numerous waves of people moving across Europe led quite early on to the EU’s smallest state having cosmopolitan eating habits, and luckily, daily activities in the kitchen have never confined themselves to the officially determined borders – which is entirely in keeping with the culinary desire for new discoveries.
Luxembourg gastronomy therefore offers no scope for exaggerated patriotism. There is not a single indigenous dish which can in all conscience be described as typically and exclusively Luxembourgian, as research into the subject has clearly shown.
For instance, the oft-cited Kuddelfleck – defined in the official Luxembourg dictionary as "a Luxembourg national dish made from pre-cooked tripe or cow’s stomach, coated in breadcrumbs and fried in fat or oil" – is equally prized in its various versions by the Italians, the English and the Scots.
Let us take another example, just as often mentioned as a Luxembourg speciality: Kachkéis (a type of soft cheese). It has been shown that it was probably Spanish troops who imported their concojota to Luxembourg in the XVIIth century. What is definitely true, however, is that cancoillotte, which is related to the sticky, soft Kachkéis, can be found today in Franche-Comté in France, and that Germans, Austrians, Norwegians, Americans and even Brazilians delight in this creamy-yellow accompaniment to bread.
The best illustration of how culinary transfers can ideally work is pasta asciutta (also known as spaghetti bolognese), which has long since made itself at home in Luxembourg. The career of this fairly simple noodle dish, which has also been fully integrated into the Luxembourg language as Pastaschutta, illustrates how foreign food can be adapted to the needs of its current adoptive homeland, and the wonderful way in which cooks and diners are able to take traditions from other countries and adapt them for their own enjoyment. While the authentic Italian pasta asciutta – as its name implies – is eaten “dry, moisture-free", the Luxembourger will readily add a good dollop of mixed beef and pork mince in a sumptuous tomato, onion and garlic sauce.
And who really cares that the plate of bacalhau (dried cod) tasting so wonderfully of olive oil and garlic was towed to Luxembourg in the wake of the Portuguese immigrants at the beginning of the 1960s? What matters is that this dish also enriches local cooking and gives the diner a talking point with his new neighbours.
Benefiting from a particularly mild micro-climate (temperatures are about 1 to 2 ° C superior to the country average and rainfall is evenly dispersed over the year), the Luxembourg vineyards produce great character wines, comparable to the world’s most famous labels.
The Mosella valley, which runs from Schengen to Wasserbillig over 42 km and constitutes the natural border between Luxembourg and Germany, is clearly divided into two parts. The district of Remich, with its heavy and abundant soil, is growing smooth and harmonious wine. In contrast, the district of Grevenmacher is a region with chalky rocks and slow erosion, producing a pure and elegant wine.
The names of the wines in Luxembourg depend on their type:
(Extracts of text of Georges Hausemer)
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