They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. That certainly seems to be true for my new-found interest in good old German food, often referred to as Hausmannskost.
For fans of German compound nouns the literal translation of ‘ Hausmannskost’ means ‘home cooked’ but that’s only half the story. It usually refers to substantial, nutritious and simple (easy to prepare) dishes, making the most of local and seasonal produce without breaking the bank. So you see, we are packing quite a lot of meaning into ‘one’ word – talk about German efficiency.
Growing up I didn’t like German food that much, especially those heavy Sunday roasts with big slaps of meat and the ‘Thüringer Klöße’ (a type of potato dumpling commonly eaten in my home county of Thuringia) and the loads of gravy. In all honesty, the fact that I just started to go clubbing, dancing the nights away in abandoned administrative buildings of one of the biggest pig farms of former East Germany, played its part. What teenager wants to get up and indulge in a healthy helping of Sunday roast deliciousness at 12pm sharp – yes that thing about Germans and their love for schedules starts at home – when he just got home a couple of hours earlier?
I can’t pinpoint exactly when things changed, but I do remember a few years ago during a visit to the Fatherland, I found myself suddenly craving a ‘Thüringer Bratwurst’ (a pork sausage that is grilled on a barbecue and served in a cut up bread roll). A craving which left my parents somewhat baffled, seeing I had gone through great lengths whilst growing up to avoid the ‘Roster’ – as it is commonly referred to – at all costs.
This new-found love and appreciation for the German food and the fact that my pastry-chef fiancé collects cooking books at a rate that would put the librarians at the British Library to shame, means I am well equipped to take a trip down memory lane and try my hand at some of the dishes I grew up with.
I’ve started to flick through one of the German cook books I found in Werner’s collection and hope to cook at least one typical German dish a week. I’ve already tried my hand at ‘Krautrouladen’ (Mince meat, wrapped in white cabbage leaves) and the ‘Rindsroulade’ (Beef roulade, stuffed with bacon, onions and gherkins). I’ll cock these and many more in order to reconnect with my culinary heritage and get some of you excited about the sinfully delicious food ze Vaterland has to offer.