TASTE THE 50s BY MAKING THIS QUICK AND DELISH GERMAN DINNER

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Picture the most stereotypical German meal you can think of. Is it Schnitzel? Schweinbraten? Bratwurst with Sauerkraut?

Yes, they’re all very German – but there’s another dish that often falls between the cracks. I mean, you might quite literally find crumbs of this in-between people’s couch cushions.

It’s a meal that you’ve likely never heard of before, and that most places no longer serve these days. Nevertheless, it’s very authentic and a key part of our cultural history.

The mouthwatering concoction consisting of ham and pineapple baked cheese toast has been a German dinner staple since the 1950s. It was introduced by TV cook Clemens Wilmenrod, who possibly copied it from his mentor and competitor Hans Karl Adam. But who’s keeping track. I’m serious – I guess no one is keeping track, because I couldn’t find out for sure.

MORE THAN JUST A DISH

The combination of tropical fruits that were now – after WWII – widely and consistently purchasable, along with American style bread, plus the lavish use of both ham and cheese, is seen by historians as a symbol of the postwar generation’s longing for worldliness, flamboyance, and provinciality. Toast Hawaii was the culinary expression of a new and more prosperous normal.

FROM NOVELTY TO DINNER STAPLE

The dish is said to be a variant of either the American grilled spamwich, or the French croque monsieur, albeit adapted to include widely available ingredients.

It grew so popular over the following two decades that it became a weekly dinner staple in many western German families.

In the 80s it turned into a crowd-pleasing dish that was served in bars and clubs. In the 90s, my parents made it their go-to dish for Saturday evenings, creating countless memories of little me being allowed to stay up longer than normal while eating Toast Hawaii, sandwiched (ha!) in between the couch and coffee table, watching Wetten, dass…, one of the most popular German gameshows of all time.  

So, to me, Toast Hawaii tastes like the weekend.

Read on to learn how to knock together your very own version of this authentic German dinner at home, so you, too, can take a bite of the weekend.

Doesn’t cream your twinkie? Just have a look at some of my other recipes, by clicking here.

TOAST HAWAII

Prep: 5 min, Bake: 5-10 min, Servings: 4

Ingredients:

  • 8 slices of toast
  • butter
  • 1 big can of sliced pineapple
  • 8 slices of ham
  • 8 slices of square cheese (Sandwich Scheiben)

optional: cocktail cherries or cranberries

Process:

STEP 1: Preheat oven to 180° C / 356° F

STEP 2: Spread some butter on each slice of toast

STEP 3: Add one slice of ham, each

STEP 4: Then one slice of pineapple

STEP 5: Put cheese on top

STEP 6: Put them on the oven rack (use parchment paper) and bake for five to ten minutes or until the cheese has melted.

Serve with cocktail cherries or cranberries on top.

Recipe Card

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2 Responses

  1. Mami says:

    Ich mag den immer noch (aber nicht jede Woche 😉)

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