Marzipan, Klopse, Fleck and beer: a distinctly Germanic feel to Kaliningrad cooking

Kaliningrad, the westernmost Host City of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, was the capital city of East Prussia from the 13th century to 1946, when it was known as Konigsberg. Therefore, over the past seven centuries, the city has absorbed the traditions of German, Russian and Baltic cuisine.

In fact, German restaurants in Kaliningrad claim to serve local dishes on their menus. Meat, fish and vegetables like potatoes, beetroot and cabbage are the bedrock of East Prussian cuisine. The food may not be particularly delicate or seasoned, but it is always extremely hearty.

Do not miss out on the Lithuanian and Polish restaurants in the area. Here, you can find food from Kaliningrad Oblast's neighbours, whose culinary traditions are always carefully observed.

Konigsberg marzipan Along with Berlin and Lubeck, Konigsberg was one of the most famous producers of marzipan, with the practice dating back to the 16th century. Delicacies made from marzipan are widely common in Kaliningrad; you can buy them at the sweet stalls in the central market and small pieces of marzipan bread are also common, for example. The biggest thing distinguishing Konigsberg marzipan from all other kinds is its flamed golden crust. A hand-cooked piece of marzipan would be a wonderful souvenir from the region. There is even a Marzipan Museum in Kaliningrad, where masterclasses are put on for those who want to learn how to make it.

Tilsiter cheese Swiss masters from the Emmental valley began making cheese in East Prussia in the city of Tilsit (known these days as Sovetsk) during the mid-19th century. The building of the first-ever cheese factory is actually still preserved in Sovetsk. Tilsiter is a light yellow semi-hard cheese, with a moderately firm texture and holes and cracks of varying sizes. Nowadays, a private company takes care of the production in the town of Neman and, of course, it is very common throughout shops in Kaliningrad.

Konigsberger Klopse Konigsberger Klopse is a German specialty made from meatballs covered in a caper sauce. Klopse made in East Prussia has become particularly popular in Europe. Pre-cooked meatballs in tin cans with Konigsberger Klopse branding are still bought all over Germany. Some restaurants in Kaliningrad advertise them as the signature dish on their menus. Usually, they are served with boiled potatoes and a beetroot salad.

Smoked eel Kaliningrad Oblast lies on the shores of the Baltic Sea, so obviously seafood is a common feature in local cuisine. Smoked Baltic eel is a real delicacy: tender, slightly sweet, extremely tasty and very nutritious. You can buy eel both at the central market and from private smoke houses on the coast. If it is packed correctly, you can preserve it for a long time. Since smoked eel is a gourmet specialty, the price is fairly high but you can find more affordable smoked fish like Baltic herring, anchovies, plaice and bream.

East Prussian fish soup There are not too many well-known soups in German cuisine, but the ones that have acquired a certain fame are popular among Russians. This particular soup is thick and nourishing, completely unlike the dainty starters in France or the exotic and spicy Oriental soups. East Prussian fish soup is made from sea perch, cream, white wine, egg yolks and an abundance of spices. Kaliningrad restaurants are constantly adding their own twists on the traditional recipe, so this soup will taste different in every establishment you visit.

Konigsberg blood sausage salad As East Prussia was heavily influenced by cuisine emanating out of the rest of Germany for centuries, blood sausage or 'blutwurst' have always been popular in Kaliningrad. They are served either hot or cold along with strong drinks or are often used as a savoury ingredient in a vegetable salad.

Konigsberger Fleck Konigsberger Fleck, or tripe soup, first became famous in the 16th century and became a kind of ritual in Prussian cooking. Ordinary people would eat it every day and fleck was sold in kiosks and markets. Beef tripe is cut into pieces and boiled for four or five hours with salt, pepper, marjoram and vinegar. The end result is a simple but extremely tasty dish. The aristocracy also loved fleck, and during the 19th century, it was served as a signature dish in many restaurants, one of which simply put up a sign saying: "Fleck is everything." The Konigsberg-born poet Walter Scheffler wrote a popular poem about fleck as well. Nowadays, there are many different variations on fleck; in Kaliningrad, you can try it as a first course with a meat broth and vegetables.

Beer Beer was always a subject of pride in Konigsberg, which was home to a few large breweries. It was not just the locals who appreciated Konigsberg beer, which was considered some of the best in Europe and exports brought in significant revenue. The beer from the Ponart brewery, which is no longer functioning, was especially popular. Today, there are both large breweries and many different micro-breweries, where you can not only try traditional Konigsberg beer made solely from hops, barley and water, but also stronger drinks with added spices. Some breweries offer special tours, where they explain the process of making beer in Kaliningrad.