Hopefully this will be a first of many posts, and we will be able to further broaden our horizons as far as kosher items and prepared GF items with a hescher on them become more available.
Here's a short description of our last 6 or so month's trials in keeping kosher here in Germany.
My husband decided when he was seeking an apartment, studio or house for us to rent that we will either stay close to work if it is economical, or closer to his parents and where he spent most of his time growing up. With finances being what they were, we had few choices as far as square meters and closeness to work or family... One choice we had to make within a day, and then when we made our call back we found out that the landlord had already decided in favor for another parts.
I was a bit upset, but then we had some opportunities closer to where DH was living with his parents.. and we ended up getting that apartment.
Sadly, our town is very small (about 6,000 inhabitants), and the closest Jewish communities are closer to Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Mainz and Worms... traditional areas where our people have always lived... so that makes things interesting when it comes to finding kosher meat and other kosher items.
Since I don't really drink alcohol and DH is a teetotaler.. we haven't issues when it comes to finding kosher drinks really... it was meat I was more concerned with finding, as we have organic veggies and fruits here, and same for juice...
It took trial and error to find a source for meat, but we did find one in Frankfurt am Main. A little shop called Aviv A&L (http://www.aviv.de/index.html) that is in the industrial area and not too far from the community in Frankfurt am Main..... but a long drive for us, and it has become a bi to tri monthly trip.
Our Meat selection there is rather good, but we found for Thanksgiving we will have to order turkey ahead of time by a month or more if we want to have it on time. There are some sandwich meats (Salami, Pastrami...) but as far as sausage goes - we just have traditional German fare - Würstchen... nothing like we have in the US when it comes to breakfast. They do have beef and veal, as well as 'hamburger meat', chicken and lamb... which is awesome. I just hate that we can't afford to get it delivered here to our area... it's hard to go back and forth.
Since labeling is different here in Europe, it is harder to spot unkosher items in prepared foods (gluten free and glutenous), especially snack items. You don't have heschers like in the US and Canada on almost every store bought item... so you have to resort to reading labels and knowing what each additive's Letter and Number combination is, and if it is or is not ok (I will post a list later in case you ever come here).. I find that somewhat frustrating, but then again when it comes to "Junkfood" we tend to get more imported type items that are GF and you know are ok like Hershey's Chocolate, M&Ms, Snickers Bars... etc.
The thing I don't like about not having heschers, is that you take more of a chance with what you get.. and you have to kind of 'wink' at your situation unless you're of the strictest diet ever and make even your own chips at home. (I haven't a clue how to make corn chips so we're still buying those outside the home, and I can't make potato chips very successfully)
As far as gluten free items go, we have found several online sources with which we can make purchases (Alles Glutenfrei and Querfood), but as far as purchasing during regular shopping, it is somewhat hit and miss in regular stores. There are very small selections available at the local Rewe and Toom supermarkets, but for a larger selection of gluten free fare, you have to go to a Reformhaus or Apothecary... and even that is hit and miss with taste, texture and whether or not it is kosher.
With GF prepared breads, you have to really read the ingredients and cross-check the additives. Some are ok, some are not ok, and some are "of questionable source".. If we find not ok or questionable source, we do not order them. Personally, I prefer not ordering breads we don't make here at home... but DH wants to try different things, and some things I just haven't figured out how to make at home.
To get GF and kosher gummibears, I found we have to ask at the local kosher marketplace and have to double check the Haribo lables to see if they are gluten free, as Haribo makes regular gummibears with gelatin (pork), and they make gummibears that are kosher with pectin, and sometimes they have wheat to help it 'stay together' better.
Sadly, when it comes to GF breakfast cereals - Europe is sadly lacking. We have no equivelants such as Envirokidz offers, and most of what we have is all corn based or has corn products. I did find something like "Kix" here that has chocolate and plain corn pops, and I found a millet and corn based cereal (Chocolate), and there are plain corn flakes (think Special K but no malt)... Otherwise, most people it seems eat "Muesli" which is like oatmeal, cream of wheat or grits--- but grain based with many different grains in the mornings.. Personally - I want cereal if I am having breakfast or I want a full meal. If Muesli is suggested, I'd sooner eat a Granola bar... but that is something we don't have here on the GF market yet either (Man do I miss Boomi bars, Bumble bars and the others...).
I have had 0% success on finding kosher dill pickles either, since we are not affiliated with the military and have no commissary at our disposal. . . so no pickles for me. DH likes the sweet/sour pickles that are made here and doesn't bother with worrying over it having a hescher or not. When I checked the ingredients, it checks out - but it still makes you kinda wonder..
I may just have to make my own pickles...
There are other interesting "paradoxes" to shopping here when it comes to canned goods that you will not find in the US/Canada. You cannot find plain pureed pumpkin in cans here... so I know next year when I am not as hindered with illness while pumpkins are ripe, that I will be canning pumpkin for cookies and pies and cakes.
As far as our veggie selection goes, it is most the same as we had in the South (US), except we haven't yellow squash . . . . which is greatly missed. I'm coping though!
I will continually update my pantry, so that you can see different items we can get that are ok (though no heschers), and some that we do get that do.. as well as the GF items we are able to procure from our online and supermarket sources.
At a recent birthday party I was able to get a few more contacts to ask where to find Kosher items, as a friend of my DH's mother works with the local Catholic charities and in conjunction with the local Jewish communities (She has mezuzot up all over her house among other items), and knows people who know people. I'll have to check out the list and see what my DH turns up as far as further sources of food closer to home and better in cost.
At the link for A&L Aviv, you should be able to see the different items we are able to get on the German site, as well as a price list (2007) for the delivery service, which helps us figure out the cost of what we will buy before we travel up to Frankfurt to make our purchases. Sadly the link in English is not as extensive. If the price list doesn't come up, I think we have a saved copy in PDF that I can later upload and translate for you all.
Below you will find our list of additives here, though sadly it is in German. Perhaps you can use a translator such as Babelfish as a quick way of checking items should you ever need this list.
- Quote :
- Nicht Koscher:
Brühe oder Bouillon
Speisefett und Speiseöl
Gelatine (es sei denn Agar Agar)
Emulgator (es sei denn Soja-Letzithin)
Modifizierte Stärke mit Glycerol
Wein, Weinessig, Weinbrand
120 Echtes karmin, aus nat. schuldläuse (Farbstoff)s
161-G Canthaxanthin (Farbstoff)
214 phb-ester und verbindungen
306 tocopherole (vitamin e)
339 natriumorthophosphorsäure, Mononatriumphosphat, Dinatriumphosphat, Trinatriumphosphat
422 Glycerin (Feuchthaltemittel; Trägerstoff, Füllstoff, Trennmittel)
430 Polyethylen-8-stearat, Polyoxyl-8-stearat (es wird angenommen, daß dieser Zusatzstoff in Lebensmitteln nicht mehr erlaubt ist)
431 Polyoxyethylen-40-stearat (Emulgator)
432 polyoxyethylen-sorbitan-monolaurat (plysorbat 20) (Emulgator; Komplexbildner)
433 polyoxytethylen-sorbitan-monooleat (plysorbat 80) (Emulgator; Komplexbildner)
434 polyoxyethylen-sorbitan-monopalmitat (plysorbat 40) (Emulgator; Komplexbildner)
435 polyoxytethylen-sorbitan-monostearat (plysorbat 60) (Emulgator; Komplexbildner)
436 polyoxytethylen-sorbitan-tristearat (plysorbat 65) (Emulgator; Komplexbildner)
470 natrium-, kalium-, und claciumsalze (a) oder magnesiumsalze (b) von speisefettsäuren
471 Mono- und Diglyceride von Speisefettsäuren (Emulgator; Mehlbehandlungsmittel; Schaummittel)
472 speisefettsäuren (Emulgator; Mehlbehandlungsmittel; Schaummittel)
473 zuckerester von speisefettsäuren, kann auch gentechnisch hergestellt sein (Emulgator)
474 zuckerglyceride (Emulgator)
475 polyglycerinester von speisefettsäuren (Emulgator)
476 polyglycerin-polyricinoleteat (Emulgator)
477 propylenglycolester v. speisefettsäuren, kann auch gentechnisch hergestellt sein (Emulgator)
478 Lactylatspeisefettsäurenester des Glycerin und Propandiol-1,2-diol
479 thermooxidiertes sojaöl mit mono- und diglyceriden von speisefettsäuren (Emulgator; Trägerstoff, Füllstoff, Trennmittel)
481 ntriumstearoyl-2-lactat (Emulgator)
482 calciumstearoyl-2-lactat (Emulgator)
483 stearyltartrat (Emulgator)
491 sorbitanmonostearat (Emulgator)
492 sorbitantristearat (Emulgator)
493 sorbitanmonolaureat (Emulgator)
494 sorbitanmonooleat (Emulgator)
495 sorbitanmonopalmitat (Emulgator)
570 Fettsäuren (Emulgator; Überzugsmittel; Trägerstoff, Füllstoff, Trennmittel)
572 Magnesiumstearat, Calciumstearat
627 natriumguanylat (Geschmacksverstärker)
628 kaliumguanylat (Geschmacksverstärker)
629 calciumguanylat (Geschmacksverstärker)
630 inosinsäure, inosinat (Geschmacksverstärker)
631 natriuminosinat (Geschmacksverstärker)
632 kaliuminosinat (Geschmacksverstärker)
633 claciuminosinat (Geschmacksverstärker)
634 calcium 5-ribonucleotid (Geschmacksverstärker)
635 natrium 5-ribonucleotid (Geschmacksverstärker)
904 sSchellack (Trägerstoff, Füllstoff, Trennmittel; Überzugsmittel)
920 Cystein, Cysteinhydrochlorid (Mehlbehandlungsmittel; Geschmacksverstärker)
GF sources here in Germany:
http://www.oeko-lieferdienst.de/ (has some GF items)
http://www.aviv.de/index.html (Some GF items, Mostly Kosher items - meats, cheeses, wines and some small candies)