Maultaschen are a traditional German dish that originated in the region of Schwaben (Swabia) in Baden-Württemberg, Southwestern Germany. They consist of an outer layer of pasta which encloses a filling of minced meat, spinach, bread crumbs, and onions, flavored with herbs and spices. They’re similar to Italian Ravioli but larger. In 2009, the EU recognized them as a regional specialty significant to the cultural heritage of Baden-Württemberg. Historically, they’re associated with the Lenten commemoration of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. During Lent, Catholics and other Christians were encouraged to refrain from eating meat. Maultaschen are humorously associated with this as the meat is concealed under the pasta and, therefore, “cannot be seen by God”. Among anecdotal stories regarding the dishes’ origins, one claims that Maultaschen were created by the Cistercian monks of Maulbronn Abbey for that very purpose. A Swabian dialect nickname for the dish is Herrgottsbescheißerle (Herrgott = god, lord, Bescheißerle = cheaters). The name first appeared in a 1794 cookbook. They’re traditionally prepared in 3 ways, either:
- geröstet (cut into slices and fried in a pan with onions/scrambled eggs),
- in der Brühe (simmered in broth and served like a soup),
- geschmälzt (dressed with butter and onions). Some recipes use bacon.