Wine and Sow Stomach
Deidesheim is one of the top tourist destinations along the Deutsche Weinstraße, the German Wine Road. It was the final stop on our very first hike in the Palatinate, and we took advantage of the opportunity to have a look around.
Deidesheim’s street patterns have remained essentially unchanged since the Middle Ages. Inevitably, buildings have been destroyed or burnt down, but since their replacements pretty much matched their predecessors in terms of size and dimension, you get the same vistas of the town church today that a medieval visitor would have enjoyed.
The restaurant Zur Kanne, in a building from the 17th century, can trace its ancestry back to an inn that was established here in 1160 and is therefore one of the oldest, continuously operated businesses of its (or indeed any) kind in the whole of Germany.
Deidesheim City Hall, distinguished by its unusually large exterior stairway, was rebuilt in the same period. The baroque building is the centrepiece for the town’s famous and award-winning Christmas market, generally considered to be one of the most atmospheric in Germany – not bad for a town with barely 3000 inhabitants.
The City Hall also accommodates the Museum of Viniculture – one of many indications for the large part that wine plays in the daily life of the town. Wine dominates the townscape in many ways …
… sometimes even optically.
One tip: do not miss the exotically lush Schlosspark, landscaped inside the moat of the town’s ancient castle, the perfect place for a stroll and a brief rest in the shadow of the mature trees.
Deidesheim acquired global fame, or at least global attention, when the local five-star hotel, the Deidesheimer Hof, became an unofficial “government guest house” under Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl: this is where he invited foreign dignitaries so he could subject them to his favourite dish, the gruesomely labeled Saumagen, the “sow’s stomach”. (It is actually not that bad. The “stomach” itself never makes it to the plate: it is removed before the dish is served, and you only eat the meat fillings.)
In the hotel lobby, you can see pictures of Michael Gorbachov and the Spanish royals who all survived the wine and sow stomach experience. And if you don’t feel up to it yourself, you can always replace the Saumagen with a cup of coffee or an ice cream on the terrace …
… and have your meal instead in the less formal surroundings of the neighbouring Turmstübl where they serve you Palatinate dishes with a modern twist.