Regional German Food: Handkäs mit Musik. Handkäs is a regional sour milk cheese (similar to Harzer Roller from Niedersachsen). It’s a culinary specialty of Frankfurt/Main, Offenbach, Darmstadt, Langen, and other parts of Hessen in Central Germany. It’s a translucent, yellow cheese with a pungent aroma which some find unpleasant. It’s usually round and served as an appetizer with Apfelwein (Ebbelwoi in local dialect = apple cider). It’s topped with raw chopped onions and known locally as “Handkäs’ mit Musik” (”hand cheese with music”). It’s usually eaten with caraway seed, but since many people find this spice overpowering, it’s often served on the side so only the people who want it can add it. Some Hessians say that it is a sign of the quality of the establishment when caraway is in a separate dispenser. Strangers to the custom probably ask where the Musik is. They most likely are told: Die Musik kommt später (= the music comes later), humorously and rather rustically referring to the potential flatulence that raw onions can provide. A more polite (but less likely) explanation is that the flasks of vinegar and oil customarily provided with the cheese would strike a musical note when they hit each other. 😀 Handkäse is popular among dieters as it’s low fat. It’s also popular among atheletes for its high protein content. While Apfelwein (hard cider) is traditionally served with it, white wine is preferred in some areas, such as Rheinhessen.