Sunday, September 27, 2015

Eating Around the World - Germany

Ah, Germany. Land of my great-grandparents' childhood. And, unfortunately, not my favorite food in the world. Some families really hold onto their culinary traditions (Collin's great-grandmother immigrated from Italy around the same time as mine, and his family still has an Italian feast of braciole for Christmas dinner,) but my family fully embraced American traditions. We ate ham for Christmas. Despite all that, this week we were up to Germany in our world tour, so German food was on the menu.

In our attempt to be more excited about German night, Laurel asked if I'd braid her hair like a German girl. We've been reading beautiful picture books of Grimm's fairy tales all week, so I think she wanted to look like Gretel.

Here's the one part of the meal I was excited about. A couple weeks ago, in anticipation of our German meal, I started fermenting a jar of sauerkraut. I've never really liked sauerkraut, but I suspected that homemade sauerkraut would taste a lot better. And, thanks to this cool pickling lid I have, it wasn't any harder to make than a bowl of coleslaw. It just took two weeks of waiting for it to ferment.

I used the recipe (and video tutorial) from the makers of the Perfect Pickler, except I added a couple tablespoons of yogurt whey to put in some good bacteria and jump start the fermentation process. I've done this before with kimchi, but I hadn't tried making sauerkraut before. The end result was pretty good. It wasn't as interesting or as effervescent as the kimchi, but it still had a slight sparkly taste to it. For our meal, I mixed it into a salad with a tart apple, a shredded carrot, and a sprinkle of salt, pepper, sugar, and lemon juice (just enough to keep the apples from oxidizing.)

Along with the sauerkraut salad we ate German potato salad which, apparently, is actually German and not just German-American. Thanks to my all-time favorite German grocery store, Aldi, we were able to buy actual Bavarian bratwurst imported from Germany for the centerpiece. And, because I was short on time, I adapted my go-to bread recipe to make a loaf of slightly sourdough sesame bread. All I did for that was to divide the dough into two loaves, roll the wet dough in a pile of sesame seeds, and brush with beaten egg about 10 minutes before they were finished baking. The bread was surprisingly good, and different-tasting with such a deliciously chewy but crunchy crust. 

Oh, and of course, we had to have some German beer from Aldi too. I'm not a beer lover, but you can't really have a German meal without beer. Incidentally, have you seen the fascinating photo project from a few years ago of A Week of Groceries In Different Countries? Scroll down and take a look at all those beer bottles in the German photo. Obviously, it's pretty essential. So I tried a sip of the Wernesgrüner, but I can't say it added anything. Fortunately, Collin thought it did.

Because it was a crazy week, and because Aldi has plenty of German imports, we bought a box of German Cocont Spritz for dessert. The girls didn't really like most of the meal (Annie's summation of the sauerkraut was ""It makes my mouth not taste very good"), so we had to use the promise of cookies to get them to finish their plates.

Finally, they got to bite into their cookies!

The cookies, unfortunately, also weren't that great. Laurel's sad face seems to be saying, "I persevered through the sauerkraut and potato salad for this??"

So we don't have to end on that disappointing note, here's a happy Eliza picture from earlier in the day. Is there anything cheerier than a happy baby?

And here's a pretty picture of a little posy in a pitcher from my grandmother. This has nothing to do with the rest of the post, except that thinking about my grandparents makes me think about my German heritage, and so there we are right back where we started at the beginning of the post. Lots of good things came from Germany, even if their food isn't one of them.

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