Himmel und Erde is an interesting sort of German delicacy popular in the Rhineland area, in communities such as the Westphalia and Silesian regions. This simple yet distinctive dish is characterized by the inclusion of apples and potatoes. The contrast between where these two foods grow leads to the German name for the food: Himmel und Erde, or in English, “heaven and earth.”
The basic ingredients for Himmel und Erde are apple sauce and mashed potatoes. These represent the two ideas explained above. Other elements are often added, such as cooked onions and meat. The meats used in Himmel und Erde vary; some recipes call for “black pudding” or blood-sausage based concoctions, while others are served with pork chops or bacon. Another type of recipe for this dish calls for fried bologna, a German meat favorite. By contrast, vegetarian recipes for this dish do not include any meat, and may substitute other ingredients for butter, which is commonly used in traditional recipes.
Some kinds of spices may also be added to different presentations of Himmel und Erde. Although this dish is not as heavy on spices as many other ethnic foods from around the world, a few distinct tastes are presented in many traditional versions. Salt and pepper, basic spices in this food culture, are often added to the dish. Another distinctive spice that is a frequent addition is nutmeg, which gives the dish a sweeter, stronger flavor.
Many presentations of Himmel und Erde depend on boiling the two main elements separately. Cooks claim that this brings out the two distinctive flavors, giving this dish more of what it is traditionally known for. In many cases, cooks might add turnips to the potato dish in order to give that portion of the dish a “rooty” or vegetable taste.
As a versatile type of dish, Himmel und Erde can be presented as a simple side dish or an entrée. The full meal version of this dish is usually presented with meat on a wide plate, where the side dish could be served in a small bowl. Where meat exists in the smaller presentations, it is often crumbled or minced and placed over the top of the dish, together with other garnishes.