There's no time like the present to bring a taste of Germany  to your table — we are in the midst of Oktoberfest, after all — but before you get cooking, it's time to stock your larder with a few key staples. From spaetzle to marzipan, this guide will get you started and then some.
While not particularly challenging to make from scratch , spaetzle does take a bit of time to prepare. For a totally respectable shortcut, buy a bag of dried spaetzle  ($4, originally $5) so that you'll never be more than a few minutes away from a comforting side dish.
A key component of rye bread , sweet baked goods, and home-fermented sauerkraut , caraway seeds  ($5) lend their unique flavor to braised meat dishes as well.
Tiny, tangy gherkins  ($4) serve as an acidic foil to rich meat and cheese. Keep a jar in your pantry (refrigerate once opened) to round out charcuterie plates.
Come Christmastime, stock up on marzipan  ($6) or its less-sweet cousin almond paste, as this rich, nutty confection is a common filling for stollen, a traditional holiday treat.
Kippers  ($3) — salty smoked herring — might seem unappealing to the uninitiated, but those in the know keep them stocked in their pantry for an easy snack.
Warm, doughy pretzels  and juicy sausages  just aren't the same without a generous dab of bracing mustard. Stock up on varieties both sweet  ($7) and spicy  ($4) to cover your bases.
Dense, nutty rye bread  ($4) is a snack, sandwich, and breakfast staple in Germany. Try it with cured salmon  for an elegant appetizer or as part of a spread of cheese, ham, and salami at morning, noon, or night.
Hazelnut Chocolate Spread and Preserves
German breakfasts are often a simple, sweet affair consisting of hearty bread served with jams  ($6), preserves, and glossy chocolate hazelnut spread  ($7).
Sour Morello Cherries
If dreams of black forest cake  dance through your head, keep a jar of kirsch-soaked morello cherries  ($28) in your pantry to bake up the authentic article.