Alsatian cuisine, strongly based on Germanic culinary traditions, is marked by the use of pork in various forms. Traditional dishes include Baeckeoffe, flammekueche, Choucroute, and fleischnacka. Southern Alsace, also called the Sundgau, is characterised by carpe frite.
The festivities of the year’s end involve the production of a great variety of biscuits and small cakes called bredala as well as pain d’épices (gingerbread), especially from Gertwiller, which are given to children starting on Saint Nicholas Day.
Alsace is an important wine-producing région. Vins d’Alsace (Alsace wines) are mostly white and display a strong Germanic influence. Alsace produces some of the world’s most noted dry rieslings and is the only région in France to produce mostly varietal wines identified by the names of the grapes used (wine from Burgundy is also mainly varietal, but not normally identified as such), typically from grapes also used in Germany. The most notable example is Gewürztraminer.
Alsace is also the main beer-producing région of France, thanks primarily to breweries in and near Strasbourg. These include those of Fischer, Karlsbräu, Kronenbourg, and Heineken International. Hops are grown in Kochersberg and in northern Alsace. Schnapps is also traditionally made in Alsace, but it is in decline because home distillers are becoming less common and the consumption of traditional, strong, alcoholic beverages is decreasing.
Alsatian food is synonymous with conviviality, the dishes are substantial and served in generous portions and it has one of the richest regional kitchens.
The gastronomic symbol of the région is undoubtedly the Choucroute, a local variety of Sauerkraut. The word Sauerkraut in Alsatian has the form sûrkrût, same as in other southwestern German dialects, and means “sour cabbage” as its Standard German equivalent. This word was included into the French language as choucroute. To make it, the cabbage is finely shredded, layered with salt and juniper and left to ferment in wooden barrels. Sauerkraut can be served with poultry, pork, sausage or even fish. Traditionally it is served with pork, Strasbourg sausage or frankfurters, bacon, smoked pork or smoked Morteau or Montbéliard sausages or a selection of pork products. Served alongside are often roasted or steamed potatoes or dumplings.
Alsace is also well known for its foie gras made in the region since the 17th century. Additionally, Alsace is known for its fruit juices, mineral waters and wines.