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The food dish known as Maultasche, or in the plural Maultaschen, is essentially a German version of what the world culinary community knows better as ravioli, an Italian dish. The Maultasche is a ravioli-style pasta pouch filled with meat, greens and onions, that is popular in the Swabian region of Germany, or in the area around Baden-Wurttemberg. The pasta is often boiled or sautéed, and served in broth.
Part of the interest in this Swabian delicacy is based on the various names given to this food. The German word Maultasche is translated to English as “mouth pocket” or “feedbag,” giving the dish a less sophisticated connotation. Another name for the dish is Grune Krapfen.
In addition, many Germans refer to Maultasche as Herrgottbescheosserle, which translates to something roughly like “Little ones who cheat on god.” This colorful name comes from the idea that the meat, whether it be pork, veal, beef, or a mixture, is hidden in the doughy pouch. Traditionally, Swabians eat Maultaschen in the last days of the Lenten season. The idea is that historic German monks or others devised this trick to be able to eat meat during Lent. There are also various stories about how the dish came to exist in Germany, some of which feature a traveler bringing the idea for the dish back from other areas of western Europe.
In terms of size, a Maultasche is somewhat bigger than a ravioli. The german version of this pasta container tends to be about 3-5 inches (8-12 cm) long. The Maultaschen are served either cut into strips, or whole, which is the preferred manner of serving during Lent, for the reasons mentioned above.
Cooks might add a variety of flavoring herbs and spices for Maultaschen. Some of these include parsley and other greens. Other taste enhancers include nutmeg or related spices.
According to many residents of the Swabian area, Maultaschen are still enjoyed over the Lent season before Easter, particularly in places like Stuttgart and Ulm. This seasonal delicacy may also be included in modern versions of ethnic dishes in more cosmopolitan venues such as cooking shows. As a simple yet appealing food, the Maultasche has its place beside other regional variants, like ravioli, as a creative way to use meat in complex culinary creations.
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