Sunday, February 21, 2010

It's the Germans

"No it's the Germans," her friend with rolled blonde fringes under a checked kerchief doing some monster routine here, raising her hands at Slothrop,"coming to get him, they especially love fat, plump Americans..." Gravity's Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon.

Natch, love, 'tis the food, all the food we have here. Corn, 'taters, and pig; The Three Sisters, lobsters (way back, after a storm they would be piled 2 feet high on the beach,hence,'poor people's food'), elk, bison, and boar. The great thing living in the mixing bowl are the food influences. German-Americans are the largest immigrant group in America. One would hardly notice around here, as there are few German restaurants and food ways. Chicken fried steak, one of the three food groups of Texas, is a derivative of weiner schnitzel . Excellent chicken fried steak can be had in Fredericksburg Texas, not in Fredericksburg Virginia. Many Germans settled there, few here.

When I was a kid, riding back from a gun show with my father and his pal, we would stop at a German restaurant,Gundlach's Hofbrauhaus, now gone. There I had my first taste of German food. I enjoyed it. I am partial to the 'sour' part of the palate (surprise!), and all that cabbage was a wee pile o' heaven for me. And 'tater pancakes, oh my, I was in! Years later, the Missus and I were on our annual family beach vacation on the Outer Banks, and we stopped at a nearby brewery and pub featuring German food. It's a huge place with decent beer and, of course, a 'shoppe' to enhance the revenue stream.

Imagine the delight and surprise when, on a motoring tour of New England last year, a former colleague of the Missus took us to Morse's, in the boonies o' Maine. We ate there and brought some 'kraut home; I had to ration the stuff. If any of y'all ever get to Maine, a visit to Morse's is highly recommended. We will go back the next time we are up that way.

The local weekly rag,high school sports and tractor ads,takes five minutes to read. I read their Irish sport pages and reply to a blockheaded editorial once in a while. An ad for the Parkway restaurant caught my eye, telling readers they featured German food. We went there one Saturday night.The place does not have much ambiance: not important if the food is decent. I had the jagerschnitzel, and it was tasty. We will have to go back to sample the rest of their entrees.

I have spent a cumulative total of eight hours in the real Germany, and have expressed interest in travelling there someday. I would like to see what has been done with Berlin and to try the food. Always the food.


Barrett Bonden said...

Germany always draws the short straw when people list their holidaying intentions re. mainland Europe. France is always first (60m visitors) then Spain, then Italy, etc. I was lucky to visit it many times professionally and I look back on those visits with nostalgia. One benefit: Germans are more likely to tell the truth in interviews. As you probably know Mrs BB and younger daughter always visit a mainland Christmas market every year and have concluded that the Germans do them best. My job is to book them the restaurant online and by phone and I've done well, except these are nearly all haute cuisine whereas what you're talking is the native stuff. I like it, but subtle it ain't. The portions are monster but then you'll be familiar with that. It goes without saying that beer is a vital part of what goes on in German restaurants and the variety is worth an academic study.

Late in life I find myself being drawn to aspects of German culture, notably films. A week ago I saw "The Life of Others" a fascinating film set in East Germany during the reign of the Stasi; last night even better "The White Ribbon" directed by Michael Haneke, already famous for two French films "The Piano Teacher" and "Hidden".

Back in the fifties I recall a novel that dwelt on post-war reflections and how they might shape the future. A character says: "The optimists are learning to speak Russian, the pessimists are learning to speak Chinese but the super-pessimists are learning German." Given Germany's beneficial role in the creating and holding together of the European Union, that now seems like a cheap shot.

The Crow said...

I learned how to make jaeger and weiner schnitzels at a restaurant named Hofbrauhaus in a little town not far from here. Odd coincidence, eh? There is a real art to getting the meat thin enough without beating holes in it. Took me a while to get that right.