Stuttgart is the center of what is traditionally known as Swabia, an unofficial area that extends more or less from the Black Forest to Augsburg. The people who live in the region are known as Schwabs or Swabians and not only have their own food specialties but speak a distinct dialect.

A few items that are likely to show up on local menus:

Spätzle - a flour, egg and water dough that's dropped into boiling salted water to form noodle-like shapes which are then browned in butter and served as a side dish.

Maultaschen - a giant Swabian ravioli filled with ground meat, spinach, onions and parsley and served either in a clear broth or sautéed with fried onions. This local comfort food is so popular it can be ordered from many a respectable restaurant - or a kiosk on the street corner.

Linsen mit saiten und/oder speck - a thick lentil stew prepared with frankfurter-style sausages and/or ham and usually accompanied by spätzle.

Gaisburger Marsch - a hearty soup/stew full of beef, potatoes, onions and spätzle that is the Swabian 'national' dish.

Schäbischer Rostbraten - sliced pot roast with lots of fried onions often served with pickled cabbage.

Zwiebelkuchen - an onion flan or quiche.

Laugenbrezeln - special pretzels of the region.

Fladlesuppe - clear soup with strips of thin pancake.

Wine has been produced in Stuttgart for more than 700 years. Today the city - and the surrounding area of Baden-Württemberg - make up one of the largest wine-growing communities in Germany. Locally, the most popular grape is the ruby-red Trollinger, which is cultivated exclusively in the region and traditionally served at every gemütlich weinstube and besenwirtschaft in a unique 1/4 liter wine glass called a viertele that has a handle but no stem. Lemberger and Kerner are also widely-grown varieties.

There are three major breweries in Stuttgart: Dinkelacker, Hofbräu and Schwabenbräu. Though each produces several styles of beer, the Hofbräu offerings are generally the sweetest, with the driest being from Schwabenbräu and Dinkelacker falling somewhere in the middle.

November 1993