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Gaisburger marsch is a stew that originated from Germany’s southwestern region of Swabia, particularly in the city of Stuttgart. It is distinctly identified by the stew’s combination of beef, potatoes, and “spätzle,” a kind of egg noodle very common in the dishes of other Central European countries such as Austria, Hungary, and Switzerland. Several German leaders such as Horst Köhler, the previous German president, and General Wolfgand Schneriderhan, cite the gaisburger marsch as their favorite dish. Even Harald Wohlfahrt, considered one of the best chefs in Germany and in Europe, also refers to the stew as his favorite dish.
The phrase “gaisburger marsch” is German for “the march to Gaisburg” or “Gaisburger march,” after the district of Gaisburg in Stuttgart city. One account tells of how 19th-century soldiers stationed in the nearby mountains would regularly eat the stew at a restaurant in Gaisburg called “Bäckerschmide.” Such was their love for the stew that the soldiers would often march from the mountains down the city to satisfy their craving.
Another account narrates how, in the 19th century, many Gaisburger men were arrested to become prisoners of war, and the local women were given just one visiting session per day to the prison camp to provide the men their meals. To supply their men with nourishing and appetizing meals, the women would cook a stew made of some meat, vegetables, and carbohydrates, and would walk to the prison camp to distribute the food. In this way, the gaisburger marsch was invented.
Aside from the meat itself, beef bones, especially the marrow, are also important ingredients in the dish to create a flavorful meat stock. Usually, the meat and the bones are initially boiled in unseasoned water, sometimes with chopped onions, pepper, and a piece of bay leaf. When the meat is slightly tender, the bones are removed and spices such as salt, cloves, and nutmeg are added into the stew. Peeled and quartered potatoes are also put into the stew before other vegetables such as carrots, leeks, and celery to prevent the latter ones from becoming too soft. A small amount of butter can be added to make for a richer flavor.
The noodle element of the gaisburger marsch, which is the “spätzle,” is prepared separately from the stew. Dry and pre-cooked egg noodles are commercially available in many supermarkets, but many cooks still prefer making their noodles. When the spätzle is ready and placed in a bowl, the stew is poured over it. A topping of fried onion rings and chives or parsley completes the gaisburger marsch.
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