Aside from being a famous Frankfurt dish, with origins going back 2000 years to Roman times, Green Sauce is said to be one of the famous German writer, artist, biologist and theoretical physicist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe who was born and lived in Frankfurt, favorite dishes. His profile can even be seen on the traditional white paper rolled packages that contain the famous 7 herbs: parsley, chives, sorrel, garden cress, chervil, borage and pimpernel. And although the herbs may vary depending on the season to include for example spinach leaves, any Frankfurt citizen will tell you that it will never, ever include dill, basil or tarragon. When Goethe moved to Weimar to become the chief advisor to Grand Duke Carl August, he is said to have had his mother make his beloved Green Sauce for Maundy Thursday and have it sent to Weimar by coach.
In Germany, Maundy Thursday, the Thursday before Good Friday is called Grün Donnerstag – Green Thursday. It is a Christian feast, which marks the last supper that Jesus held with his apostles.
Green Thursday is also the official opening day for selling the packages of herbs for Green Sauce as one should traditionally eat green things (no meat or fish) on Green Thursday, the season then continues on until the first Autumn frost; with the herbs varying as mentioned above according to seasonal changes.
Frankfurt Green Sauce is traditionally grown in the Frankfurt quarter of Oberrad, across the Main River in the south east. 15 nurseries grow and package the herbs which are then sold throughout Germany on Green Thursday and in the State of Hesse throughout the entire growing season.
Each nursery has its own logo and recipe on the traditional white paper roll, designed especially to protect the herbs. At the market, each package you buy is opened for you so that you may see the freshness and whether there are enough herbs in it. If this is not the case, a handful of fresh herbs is added, and the package is once again rolled-up for transportation.
Since May 2007, Oberrad even sports a special Green Sauce monument to commemorate it’s tradition. An association to protect Green Sauce was founded by the 15 nurseries in Oberrad, who have been petitioning the European Union for the protection of Green Sauce with its original combination guidelines.
On Green Thursday, Green Sauce, which is served in many variations, is made up of the chopped herbs, mayonnaise, sour cream or yoghurt or curd cheese, chopped hard boiled eggs, lemon juice, salt and pepper, chopped pickles and onion but never, ever garlic! is served with boiled potatoes and halved hard boiled eggs. On other occasions you can find it on all menus of Frankfurt’s traditional Apfelwein restaurants, served with boiled beef or the traditional egg, accompanied by fried or boiled potatoes.
You can find the recipe including variations and the way Goethe preferred it on every package or in The Best of Hessian Food available at Amazon.
Since Easter wouldn’t be Easter without eggs or chocolate or chocolate eggs, I would like to invite you to visit another traditional Frankfurt culinary highlight, the Konditorei Amendt, located in the Hügelstrasse 177. This confectionary and pastry shop looks back on 80 years of history and tradition and is now run in the 3th generation by Patrick and Susanne Amendt. Having changed locations several times throughout Frankfurt over the years due to bombings in the Second World War and city reconstruction in the 70’s, they have now been very successfully located in the Hügelstrasse in the Escherheimer quarter, due north of the Main River, for 29 years.
Patrick destined to take over the pastry shop from his parents, met Susanne who also comes from a family of confectioners, when they were both completing their Master training in Heidelberg. Susanne also underwent training in Paris to learn the secrets of French patisserie.
Today their shop and café, offers chocolates, cakes, pastries and cookies for every occasion and I can truly say that their cakes taste like home-baked ones. Susanne always laughs when I say this and says: “of course they do, why shouldn’t they.” It is this belief that she shares with her husband along with high-quality ingredients and a good balance of tradition and creativity that makes all their creations a delight to the palate. The most difficult part is in choosing amongst so much selection.
So when in Frankfurt, slurp some Apfelwein eat some Green Sauce in traditional Sachsenhausen, south of the Main River or “drib de Bach” as Hessians say, for example at our favorite apple wine restaurant Fichtekränzi and then head on over to Konditorei Amendt by convenient public transportation for dessert and some yummy souvenirs.
Particularly lovely are the delicate Easter eggs or the cute marzipan duckies, their cakes and petits fours are delightful on any occasion. Oh and by the way they have lactose-free cake too, hurrah for me!!
Happy Easter from Frankfurt am Main, Germany!!