The first part of our family reunion last July brought us to the village where my mother grew up: Dorfprozelten, a small hamlet at the banks of the Main river in Lower Franconia as the region is called. The village is situated between the small towns of Miltenberg and Wertheim.
Dorfprozelten in the morning (photo taken from the meadows at the river banks). In the back one can see the location ‘Predigtstuhl’ where vines are cultivated.
I spent most of my childhood summer vacations in Dorfprozelten, lodged at my maternal great-grandmothers house in the middle of the village. Since my family could hardly afford to go on holidays as we do today, we spent our time with relatives and explored the beautiful surroundings between Spessart and Odenwald, two hilly, forested regions sanwiching the Main river.
Many of the village inhabitants were fishermen; many others were barge owners transporting goods from port to port in the inland river and canal systems which link many German lands with its neighbours. My uncle owned and operated a 1,000 tonne ship (river barge) together with two of his sons. My father often joined them during his holidays as a kind of occasional sailor.
In July this year, we arrived on a Friday two days before the fishermen would celebrate their annual local fishing festival. We should miss it all together since we stayed only for one day and one night. But on a rainy Saturday morning walk, I took the picture of this poster stuck to a tree near the river.
The billboard introduced the various fish varieties which call the river Main their home. Their numbers are on the increase ever since river pollution was reduced by the introduction of waste water treatment plants in the 1970s and 1980.
When on holidays we swam in the river as little kids until it was forbidden because of the rising pollution. My father used to swim out into the stream to greet barges, at times go on board and jump back into the rapid river waters. He was a very good swimmer. Today, swimming is again allowed because of the improved water quality.
The wine produced in Dorfprozelten does not come from “premier cru” terroir but rather belongs to the “Landwein” category (table wine or ‘vin de pays’). Among others Bacchus vines are cultivated. I am personally not a lover of Bacchus grapes and wines, but I drink “local” as much as I can.
Franconian wines are often filled in traditional bottles, called “Bocksbeutel” with a rounded, big belly shape. Sylvaner is the dominant grape variety, much liked by the locals and of outstanding quality only in this part of Germany. Apart from Riesling, Sylvaner is my most preferred variety of the German white wines.
We stayed in a typical country inn, named “Gasthaus Krone”.
Country inns in Germany offer home style cooking and local German cuisine which is not easy to find these days. Most Germans eat home style dishes at home and when they go out, they are looking for some more exotic cuisines. Moreover, these days many Germans try to avoid the restaurant business because of the long working hours. Therefore, today many country inns are operated by non-Germans offering everything from Turkish, Chinese, Thai, Italian Greek and other foods. But not so in Dorfprozelten.
The rooms were furnished in a typical Southern German country style. They were clean and spacious. Ideal for two families with children. The breakfast was a delight, offering many local cheeses, eggs cold cuts, sausages, and other meats.
The menu was a typical ‘country inn’s menu with a lot of local dishes. I loved the richly decorated hard cover in thick leather.
The wine list, here the section with local white wines only, was dominated by local wines from Franconia. Unfortunately, we could not taste them all. I guess we have to come back for some more sampling.
Sauerbraten with Knoedel, a hearty German country meal.
If you plan to visit Lower Franconia, I recommend you stay in this village of my ancestors for a night or two. It’s worth it, I promise.