First a big shout out to my dad – he makes the most beautiful and delicious German breakfasts for us every single day, above a collection of his breakfasts. One of my favorite breakfast “meats” is Tartar, – raw minced Filet Mignon prepared with a raw egg, salt, pepper, paprika and onions..oh so good!
Sunday July 27th: Volksgarten and Shopperle
while my dad prepared a very special “poor men’s dish” called “Shopperle” – made from ingredients that the poor people in the “Oberpfalz” (a part of Bavaria that sits close to the Tschech Republic and close to Gravenwoehr) had available back in the day – potatoes, eggs and red cabbage. It takes a LOT of work to make this dumpling style dish but its as unique as it can get because I have NEVER seen it on any menu in Germany or for that matter in the world, I want to say that maybe 200 or 500 people in Germany know how to make this dish. Below photos of all the different steps it takes:
First you have to cook some potatoes and squeeze them through a potato press, then you have to grate some raw potatoes, squeeze them out and “catch” the starch, mix the starch into the squeezed out potatoes and mix in the boiled/cooked/pressed potatoes.
Then season the mixture and form it into little “sausage rolls” and boil them in some salt water.
After that you fry them in fat, add the eggs and boil some red cabbage.
And here is the end result – it doesn’t look like much but it does satisfy the German taste buds. And in case you haven’t realized it yet…the “old” German generation cooks a lot from scratch and puts a lot of work into making fresh food, there really is no “fast food” in the traditional German kitchen. Yes we have Mc Donalds, Burger King and even a KFC but the true German cook, takes his/her time to prepare a meal.
Monday July 28th: Duesseldorf – catching up with a friend
We took it easy on Monday and played a lot of cards (Skip Bo) and spent some time on my parents beautiful patio – my mum has a “green thumb” and attends daily to her plants – she even talks with them, I guess my mum is somewhat a spiritual person. With all the cooking my mum had done the last week, I thought it would be time to get out of the house and have them have an evening for themselves and I took the opportunity to catch up with an “old friend”. We had dinner at the “Rote Laterne” (red lantern) a very modern Chinese Restaurant in the city center of Düsseldorf. I was happy my friend selected this neighborhood restaurant because its so much more fun and makes you feel so much more at home to eat in a true neighborhood restaurant than going to one of the restaurants listed as the top 10 restaurants of the city, usually those restaurants are fine but they are overpriced and somewhat touristy.
Here a few photos of my parents German condo – German furniture looks different than US furniture, doesn’t it?
Tuesday July 29th: – Venlo/Holland
My parents moved back to Moenchengladbach which is close to the Dutch border. And a very traditional/typical activity for the Germans in this region to do, is to drive to Venlo in Holland and buy cigarettes, coffee and cheese. Hundreds, maybe even thousands of Germans in this region drive the 30 minute to 1 hour drive to the Dutch border and spend Saturday or Sunday afternoon, cruising the little downtown and come home with several packages of coffee, several pounds of Hollaender Kaese (usually referred to as Gouda) and a good amount of cartons of cigarettes. Lower taxes and lower sales margins are the main reasons behind this pilgrimage. The Dutch border was always much more “open”‘ for Germans to cross than the other European borders but now with the European Union since 2002 in place you can’t even tell that there used to be a border control station. Holland brings back a lot of fond memories for me. During my time at the University of Cologne, my girl friends (Petra aka Pede, Sandra and Anja aka Kloppi) and I would drive to “Renesse” almost every weekend in summer, enjoy the ocean and party with the fun and good looking surfer boys – ha memory lane…there it is again!
Dinner was a traditional “Rheinland” dish – Saure Bohnen mit Mettwurst (sour beans with strongly flavored German sausage traditional from the southeastern region of Bavaria, made from raw minced pork, which is preserved by curing and smoking)
Wednesday July 30th: – Duesseldorf catching up with Sandra – my school friend from 30 years ago!
Wednesday I went back to Düsseldorf to catch up with my friend Sandra. We became friends over 30 years ago when both of us attended the Luisengymnasium in Düsseldorf. Sandra was always very good in English, which was one of the core classes I had to take in school and I plain old sucked in our English lessons. Sandra would always help me during our tests and slowly but surely we became friends. And funny what life has in store for you…now I work in my second language, the one I always had a C or D in school, if that doesn’t tell you not to worry about grades too much ;-). Sandra is pretty much my only “pen pal” and over the past 30 years we have managed to keep our friendship alive through the Internet/Email and have seen each other the last time 11 years ago in Cologne. We met at the Rheinufer again but visited a different location than I did prior and ate a traditional waffle with cherries and whipped cream while catching up on recent events, family and life – it can’t get more German!
After catching up with Sandra it was time to come home, play a couple rounds of Skip Bo and be surprised by the next dinner: Putenbrust in Mandelblaettchen mit frischen gruenen Speckbohnen (turkey cutlets rolled in almond slices and fresh green beans with bacon)
Phew – caught up now on 4 days!! And what do you think – how much would you have gained by eating EVERYTHING I have posted here PLUS I ate a ton of sweets that I haven’t even shown you yet – take a guess! So far I haven’t gained a pound! Its the strangest thing, There really has something to be said about fresh cooked food and all the veggies I am eating here, German veggies just taste better with all that bacon in it ;-).
I hope you are enjoying the German Food Diary and get the impression that German food is tasty – I have a couple friends who think there is no good German food and I would love to proof them wrong.
Stay tuned and Guten Appetit!