One thing I miss from Germany are the ingredients. I’ve just cut up a stale, burnt loaf of bread for John’s sandwiches. The quality of food in the local Sainsbury’s is atrocious. Back in Germany, even the lowliest village supermarket will have a bakery attached (and back there, baker is a profession which requires a 3-year apprenticeship—not a minimum-wage job). The same supermarket will also have a butcher’s (ditto) which sells marrowbones and stewing cuts, not just steak and chops. And, in that village shop, you won’t find shrink-wrapped meats or poncy veg. All the veg are loose. A georgeous, fully grown head of salad (plain, endive, whatever)—the kind of which you see rarely here outside Harrod’s food hall, will set you back 30-50 pence. Food is generally a third to a half as expensive as here in the UK.
The Brits still don’t understand food. Yes, I know, this country has the world’s best/second best restaurant (it toggles), some of its greatest chefs and (actually) a proud tradition—sadly usurped by wars and puritanism. But the Brits still cook with their heads, not their hearts, and food crimes are many. The irritating Jamie Oliver and his condescending cooking tips for Sainsbury’s would’ve been laughed out of my village shop. Grotesque ‘celebrity’ chefs taunt the latest fads (avocado oil) to people who don’t even know how to make a basic chicken stock.
On the other hand, I won’t cook much German food during the World Cup. Why not? Football food tends to be a half-time affair, so elaborate stuff is out. Summer doesn’t really lend itself to heavy stews and roasts. Some tried-and-trusted recipes rule, and ‘ve already posted them, such as potato salad and Sülze (also known as head-cheese or brawn).
When it comes to potato salad, there are many incarnations. It’s often served with rollmops or Bismarck herring and frequently prepared with stock and a basic vinaigrette instead on mayonaise and sour cream (plain yoghurt). My version goes well with cold meats. Bratwurst or Frikadellen (pork-and-beef meat patties) can be bought in some local shops. ‘Currywurst’—national dish of West Berlin— is simply bratwurst with ketchup sprinkled with a bit of Madras curry powder. I’ll have that for lunch today.
Other than that, the hotdog with Sauerkraut rules. It isn’t as American as you may think (indeed, you’ll discover better versions of it in Germany), although—strangely—the use of Sauerkraut is typically New York. I think of it as a fusion dish. The Frankfurter will most definitely be German (watch out for the fat content—Herta’s best!), the kraut happens to be Polish and Frenchy’s mustard is decidedly American.
For daytime play, a rye bread sandwich comes highly recommended. I’m talking about an open sandwich. Rye bread (lightly toasted and buttered while still hot) goes well with English cheddar—another international marriage—as well as paté and I love it with apple slices and herring in sour cream.
For afters? Kentish strawberries dipped in whipped cream!