Monday, September 19, 2011

Finkenwerder Speckscholle

German cooking has a bad reputation. When you ask around the answer is unanimous: Sauerkraut, wurst and potatoes.

Well, sauerkraut is not best in Germany but a regional specialty across the Rhine in Alsace. Nothing has more cholesterol than a delicious choucroute royale prepared by a chef with all its sausages and bacon on top.

The consumption of potatoes, the staple food in my youth, is in steady decline in Germany. Only my grandchildren eating tons of pommes frites* with lots of ketchup make it possible that German potato farmers don't go bankrupt and that Italian tomato growers help to keep their country creditworthy.
*Pommes frites are a Belgian specialty not to be confused with French fries

Finally, with respect to wurst those critics of German cooking never say what kind of wurst they mean. Who dares to throw a Bavarian Weißwurst and a Frankfurter - we Germans call it a Wiener - into the same kettle and place a Thüringer Bratwurst and a Freiburger Rote on the same grill not to speak of the genuine German invention the Currywurst.

It is obvious that cooking and eating in Germany are not at all national but rather international or regional. Nowadays instead of potatoes Germans are eating lots of Pasta from Italy, Döner from Turkey, Sushi from Japan, Borsht from Russia, Matjes herrings from Holland, Feta cheese from Greece, Rösti from Switzerland and ... Hamburgers from the States.

When I travel I prefer regional cooking. A few weeks ago in Palatinate I ate Pfälzer Saumagen (stuffed pig's stomach). During the last weekend attending my yearly class reunion in Hamburg I had Labskaus (lobscouse). The high point however was the Finkenwerder* Speckscholle. Such a combination of healthy fish and bad cholesterol, i.e., a European plaice crisply fried in bacon is just delicious.
*Finkenwerder, once a picturesque fishing village opposite the city of Hamburg on the other side of the river Elbe is now overgrown by Airbus Industries

A Hamburg potato salad and a draft beer accompany the fish. The desert that naturally goes with it is another Hamburg specialty: the rote Grütt (red fruit slightly stewed and thickened) with vanilla sauce.

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