TASTE OF THE TOUR: Noodles and 'Old Beer' in Duesseldorf

DUESSELDORF, Germany (AP) Thought food in Germany was all meat, sausage and potatoes? Think again. The start point of the Tour de France, Duesseldorf, has the dishes you would expect. But it also has others you wouldn't.

Here is your gastronomic, sporting and cultural guide to Stage 1 on Saturday:

REGION: It's the fourth time the Tour is starting in Germany. Stage 1 is a 14-kilometer (8.7-mile) individual time trial that seems tailor-made for German rider Tony Martin to grab the yellow jersey in front of his home fans. The course along the Rhine is as flat as a pancake.

Which leads us to food ...

PLAT DU JOUR: Duesseldorfers call their local dish ''Himmel un Aad (Heaven and Earth).'' It's blood sausage, fried onions and mashed potatoes mixed with stewed apples. The name comes from two of the main ingredients: Apples (from the sky) and potatoes (from the ground).

''Dusseldorfer mostert,'' a mustard that rivals the Dijon variety for its sweet and sour flavor, is another culinary feature here. Traditionally served in a small pot called a ''Mostertpoettche,'' it was immortalized in a still life by Vincent van Gogh in 1884.

But the real surprise is the Japanese restaurants - catering to the third-largest Japanese population of any European city (so says the Duesseldorf tourist board). Japanese industries based themselves here because of the city's central European location. Fresh noodles, quality sushi, delicate dumplings and more.

CULTURE: The time trial route passes by the renowned Kunstakademie Duesseldorf. Motto: ''For our students only the best.'' Artists and photographers who trained there include Joseph Beuys, Gerhard Richter, Ruth Rogers-Altmann, Sigmar Polke, Anselm Kiefer, Thomas Ruff, and Thomas Demand.

VIN DU JOUR: Duesseldorf is better known for its beers than its wines, specifically `Altbier,' which translates as `old beer.' The name refers to the pre-lager brewing method of using a warm top-fermenting yeast like British pale ales. Four pub-breweries in Duesseldorf's old town or ''Altstadt'' make the dark, copper-colored Altbier on site: Fuechschen, Schluessel, Uerige and Kuerzer.

HISTORY: The last time the Tour started from Germany was in 1987, in West Berlin. Stephen Roche won that year, becoming the first - and still only - Irish champion.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: ''We must not add fear to fear'' - Tour director Christian Prudhomme, explaining why he's not fretting about the risk of a terror attack on the race.

NEXT ORDER: Sunday's Stage 2 is a mostly flat 203.5 kilometers (126 miles) from Duesseldorf to Liege, Belgium, that should set up well for sprinters. A fourth-category climb about 20 kilometers (12 miles) before the conclusion likely won't prevent a mass finish.

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