Saturday, July 30, 2011

I ate that! Take 3

German Home-Cooking 1
Blutwurst + Kartoffeln + Sauerkraut (+ Salat)

When I mentioned my experience with calf liver to a chatty old lady at church the next day, she told me that she thinks the apples and onions are the best part. And actually, she prefers chicken liver. And had I tried another Berlin dish, Blutwurst, yet? When I was in England last month for that food and drink history conference, we were served black pudding one evening, which is the same thing. I also found that tasty. So I agreed to take her suggestion to purchase some fresh blood-sausage from a butcher, as the packaged ones are supposed to be relatively tasteless. She recommended I pair it with boiled Kartoffeln (potatoes) and Sauerkraut “verfeinert” (“refined”) with Lorbeerblatt (bay leaf) and Speck (bacon). Because I am cleaning out my pantry in preparation for returning home, instead of buying white sauerkraut I used some of the Rotkohl (red sauerkraut) I already had. I cooked the basil potatoes with their delicate skin on (even my sources from around WWI suggest that). And I served the warmed sausage slices with a green salad without the typical German dressing of lots of oil and vinegar. The meal was very delicious! I would eat that again.

American Home-Cooking
Shrimp Couscous + Mixed Green Salad

While I was back in Dresden for a quick, one-week research trip, I stayed with two sets of friends, and of course we cooked and ate together. To thank the first couple for their hospitality, I offered to make an “American meal” from a personal recipe, which is as follows:
      Shrimp Couscous
Shrimp, thawed (+/- shells)
Broccoli, with long stems
Boxed coucous, any flavor
Pine nuts, toasted if you like
Olive oil
Garlic, minced
Start boiling the water for the couscous. When the olive oil and garlic are hot, begin cooking the shrimp. When the water has boiled, add the couscous. Meanwhile, steam the broccoli. Just before the couscous is finished cooking, stir in the craisins and pine nuts (if you toast them, put them in the oven at the very beginning of the cooking process). When everything is cooked, spoon the couscous mixture into individual bowls, arrange the broccoli around the edges, and top with shrimp.

This is a very fast meal that you can prepare in about 15 minutes once you’ve got the rhythm of the individual ingredients down. My hosts found it an unusual combination but they liked it very much. They are born and raised Saxons, and Saxony lies miles from the East Sea, so salt-water seafood is a relative rarity for them. Apparently they hadn’t had Garnelen (shrimp) before. We ate this with the usual German salad with oil and vinegar.

German Home-Cooking 2
Pellkartoffeln + Quark + Leinöl

The next night, my hostess cooked a traditional mitteldeutsche (Middle-German) meal for us of Pellkartoffeln (boiled potatoes) and Quark mixed with red onion and linseed oil, the way she used to eat it in the Mensa (cafeteria) at her university in Thüringen (a state next to Saxony famous for Martin Luther and Wolfgang von Goethe). The red onion is pungent and the linseed oil is nutty, making for an interesting flavor combination.

German Home-Cooking 3
Spiegeleier + Kartoffeln + Spinat

At my next hostess’s home, I got to try a combination I often came across in my research in Leipzig on women’s journals from the 1910s to early 1930s. For all its reputation of being meat-heavy, much German cooking uses other sources of protein and blood sausage, quark and linseed oil, and eggs. This meal is really well balanced: protein from the egg, carbohydrates from the potatoes, and balast from the spinach. I don’t know about its vitamin content, however, as the spinach is usually boiled, chopped, and then cooked again with butter and/or cream and maybe some nutmeg (my hostess used packaged frozen spinach). If I make this at home, I will cook the spinach less, if at all. I added some fresh cherry tomatoes for color.

Czech Restaurant Food
For my birthday, my friends took me out to Goldenes Prag, a Czech restaurant in Dresden with a good reputation. I ordered a traditional Czech meal of pork and dumplings with gravy, because it reminded me of my family’s two trips to the Czech Republic. When I asked if it came with any vegetables, the waiter said yes, Preiselbeeren (think cranberry sauce). Anything green, I asked? He suggested a salad. So in the picture you can see the cucumber salad I got, which consisted of mostly peeled and thinly sliced cucumbers in a creamy dressing. That’s a nice white wine from Thüringen behind my plate.

“German” Restaurant Food
Salat + Gebratene Pfefferlinge

Last dish: one day I met my Doktorvater (dissertation adviser) for lunch at the famous Markthalle in Bergmanstrasse. We ate at a vaguely Italian restaurant. He had a salad with goat’s cheese, I a salad with lightly cooked mushrooms. Fresh lettuce plus toppings is a combination I enjoy, but it is not a German formulation. However, the little mushrooms called Pfefferlinge are a national favorite, so I thought this was a nice fusion with which to conclude my food posts.

As always, I wish you, Guten Appetit! Lass es Euch schmecken! (May it taste good to you!)

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