Snapshots from Germany: Swabian Maultasche

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[Photograph: Urs Kuckertz]

This might look like an oversized ravioli, taste like ravioli, and it's even prepared and cooked like ravioli. But don't be fooled; this isn't ravioli, this is Maultasche (literally translated into Mouthbag). Maultasche is a distinct German dish typical of the southwestern region of Baden-Württemberg, known as Swabia, on the border of France and Switzerland.

"Lasst uns nach Schwaben entfliehen, Hilf Himmel, Es findet sich süße Speise da und alles Gute in Fülle." (Lets flee to Swabia, God help us, there is sweet food there and an abundance of all things good)."

Goethe in his version of the fable Reineke Fuchs

The Swabian cuisine has a wide variety of specialties including Käsespätzle & Schupfnudeln (stay tuned for more on that later). I try to squeeze in a visit to a Swabian restaurant at least once a month. One of my favorites is Gasthaus Wiesenstein located at Victoria Louise Platz, one of Berlin's most beautiful small parks, where the American director Billy Wilder once lived.

The traditional maultasche is a pasta dough filled with a paste made of spinach, meat, breadcrumbs with different spices and herbs. Like ravioli—or Russian pelmeni, Jewish kreplachs, Chinese wonton, Italian ravioli—you can fill maultasche with whatever you like.

It's typically served in a warm vegetable broth garnished with chives, and if you're serving it as leftovers, just slice it up and pan fry with butter. I love the simplicity of this dish and usually throw in a spoonful of homemade sambal olek to add heat and replace the chives with fresh coriander. (Four years in Indonesia will make you do that.) Naturally, this dish should be accompanied with a chilled Grauer Burgunder or a dry Riesling.

Gasthaus Wiesenstein

Viktoria-Luise-Platz 12, 10777 Berlin Germany (map) 030 21912405