Germany notoriously divided into two states for most of the second half of the 20th century, had only been a single entity since 1871 when the first unified Germany was formed by Prince Otto von Bismarck. Previously the region was a collection of small independent states, with the separate German-speaking kingdoms of Prussia in the north and east, Saxony in the centre, and Württemberg and Bavaria in the south.
In a rough sort of way, these ancient divisions are reflected in what may be termed the three culinary regions of Germany today. There is the north, where food preferences and customs reflect the proximity to Scandinavia and to the seas (North and Baltic). The central region, an area of rolling hills with wide expanses of forest and numerous spas (dear to German hearts), has a rich and filling cuisine. In contrast, the south offers lighter food, with a strong Italian influence in the Alpine region.