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Expat in Germany: Hungry in Germany? Look for a Broomstick!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hungry in Germany? Look for a Broomstick!

It was dark outside and I shivered in my coat walking in an unfamiliar neighborhood alone on the look out....for a broom.  Brooms are not so easy to spot when it's dark outside, but I persisted in my search - my curiosity piqued by the promise of traditional Swabian food and of course home brewed wine.  The broom is not code for some secret club, but is code for a Swabian Besen (Swabian - name for locals in the south western state of Baden-Wuerttemberg in Germany and besen is broom in German), these are temporary restaurants and pubs set up in people's houses - usually the living or dining room - no restaurant or bar licence required!

Eventually, I found the Swabian Besen marked by the trusty broom.  I had no problem finding my noisy English speaking group of 14 other expats.  We were in the dining room cozily sitting around a table that would comfortably seat 8, but part of the fun of a Swabian Besen are the cozy (read cramped) quarters.  Just imagine how short on space you would be trying to run a restaurant/bar in your living room and dining room.  The menu was small and served tradiotional Swabish food.  I settled on a nice traditional Swabish meal of sausages and potato salad - homemade of course!

Since the Besen is run out of someone's house, all the cooking is done in a regular sized kitchen, so as one might expect, Besen's aren't known for their fast service, but this is also part of the fun.  You want to linger at a Swabian Besen, enjoy the cozy atmosphere and the unique experience of dining in a stranger's house with  other strangers who are sitting unusually close.  Besides, Swabian Besen's are famous for their wine, which flows freely creating a festive friendly atmosphere!  Swabian Besen's are usually run by vineyard owners, who then sell their wine at their Besen.  If you do find a good Besen though, and want to come again, you've got to be quick about it.  Swabian Besen's are generally only open for 2-3 weeks at a time, but fortunately they may be open several times a year - hence the broomstick to tell you when the Besen is open, since the opening hours are sporadic at best. 

When I got home, I was in a great mood, having experienced a German custom unbeknown to me just a few days before, and having a nice chat with some other expats (I'm sure the wine didn't hurt either).  J.P. proceed to ask me a lot of questions about the Swabian Besen.  At first I thought he just wanted to ensure that I had a good time, but it soon became clear that he'd never actually been to a Swabian Besen despite living in Stuttgart for 12 years.  I enjoyed the cozy unique experience of the Swabian Besen so much last night that I intend to go again - and this time I will bring J.P.

Find a Swabian Besen in Stuttgart
More Historical/Cultural Activities in Stuttgart
Broom Photo courtesy of Stuttgart Information

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At December 1, 2010 at 11:25 AM , Blogger Frau Dietz said...

These sound so awesome! I have to get to myself along to one sometime... great insider tip :)

At December 1, 2010 at 12:48 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Laurel,
I think you enjoyed the experience in the Swabian Besen very much and I think I should do this as well (I'm German and have never done this).

At December 1, 2010 at 1:33 PM , Blogger Jamie said...

damn, i wish i knew this before. what a great tradition! i need to go back to germany!
cheers, jamie from

At December 1, 2010 at 6:04 PM , Anonymous Adam said...

Wow, that sounds awesome. What a cool idea. I'd love to experience one of these. I'll have to put it in the old memory for whenever we visit Germany.

At December 1, 2010 at 9:26 PM , Anonymous from online poker said...

Swabian Besen is so unique, you can't notice the broomstick at night :-)It's a cute idea. I think I have to try sometime, I'm sure the foods look unique too...:-)...thanks for posting, I have a great time reading your post.

At December 1, 2010 at 11:18 PM , Anonymous inka said...

Never heard of this before. How entertaining. Must look out for the Besen if ever I come to Schwaben. Great story.

At December 2, 2010 at 9:11 AM , Anonymous German Gems said...

You can also look for brooms in other parts of Germany and find something similar. In Rheinland-Pfalz, it is called "Strauswirthshaft." Small wineries open their place, sell their wine (that you can't get anywhere else) and serve lunch, snacks and/or dinner, usually on the weekends.

At December 2, 2010 at 9:15 AM , Blogger Expat in Germany said...

@Frau Dietz - I would highly recommend going. It's amazing how many Germans haven't been to one either.
@Anon-Yes, I loved it and you really should go!
@Jamie - would definitely recommend it next time you're here, they have them at different times throughout the year
@Adam - it was definitely unique, which I loved, plus it's a great chance to mingle with the locals
@Inka - my Swabian friends have just this tradition is only found in the Swabian region so perhaps that's why you haven't heard of it before
@German Gems - good to know, I found it was difficult to find information on it, and if the name is different that can be confusing as well. Thanks for sharing, I will check for them in other parts of Germany.

At December 3, 2010 at 3:32 AM , Anonymous Robin said...

One of my favourite german dishes - Kaesespatzle - forgive my spelling, is a Swabian speciality. German food is underrated - I will be in bavaria soon and I can't wait!


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