German Cookbooks: A Hidden Gem in the Wade Hall Collection

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By: Mark Robison, University of Alabama Information Services Librarian

Although the demands on food are growing ever larger — one person places value on the fanciest treats, while another insists on the lowest possible calorie count –, every now and then almost everyone gets an appetite for hearty, simple home cooking, the preparation of which skimps on nothing.  In rustic cooking, one finds many delicious dishes, mostly from the pan and crock.  Not just pork, but also beef, chicken, fish and various vegetables are turned into tasty, sometimes high-calorie dishes.


Rustikale Kuche, Wade Hall TX721 .K67 1980

This excerpt, translated from the original German by yours truly, comes from the preface of Christiane Korn’s Rustikale Küche: Deftig – Kräftig – Schmackhaft (Rustic Cooking: Hearty — Strong — Savory). This 1980 cookbook contains dozens of recipes for traditional German soups, stews, casseroles, meat and potato dishes, dumplings, and vegetables.

Korn’s recipe for bacon dumplings (Speckknödel) embodies many of our stereotypes about German food and is enough to make any omnivore’s mouth water. Slice and fry half a pound of “fatty bacon” — yes, heavy on the fat. Mix the cooked bacon with bread crumbs, chopped onion, and parsley, and let soak in a mixture of milk and eggs. Once this delicious concoction has sat for a while, work in flour to form a dough. Mold this dough into four dumplings, boil them in salt water, and serve with sauerkraut.

Korn’s Rustikale Küche is one of over twenty German cookbooks in the Wade Hall Collection of the University of Alabama Libraries Division of Special Collections. These cookbooks span the time period from the 1950s to the 1990s. While many of them were published in Germany, some were authored by Americans, such as Das Germantown Kochbuch, compiled by a group of churches in the Nashville area. The titles in this collection are quite unique; in many cases, the University of Alabama is the only library in North America to own a copy. (The only comparable collection I could find at another American university was at the University of Denver Libraries Special Collections, with which UA’s collection has some overlap.)  Other notable titles in the Wade Hall German cookbooks include Die Welt der Marmelade (1978), devoted entirely to marmalade recipes, and Das Mikrowellen-Kochbuch (1984), which presents recipes for that pinnacle of 1980s kitchen innovation, the microwave.

A comprehensive list of the Wade Hall Collection’s German Cookbooks is printed below.  The items with asterisks are the only copy at an American library. These books are available at Hoole Library, in case you get the inspiration to do a little German-style cooking of your own!


Das Mikrowellen Kochbuch Wade Hall TX832 .F76 1984

German Cookbooks in Wade Hall Books Collection:

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