Saturday, September 24, 2005
Meme: Childhood Memories
Mettwürstchen, Waldmeister Wackelpudding, Ahoij Brausepulver and my Mum's Mocca set, which was used on my birthday, for a proper "Kaffee und Kuchen" party. We had Gestreifter Affe and drank Caro Kaffee (A coffee substitute made from chicory, caffeine-free and therefore suitable for children; it was called Mocca Faux in French which mutated into Muckefuck in German - just thought you'd like to know...).
Childhood Food Memories
I have greatly enjoyed everyone’s stories on this meme which has been running from about mid August, I think, and every single one triggered a new slice of memories for me, and like so many others, I don’t know how to restrict myself to just 5 items. Choosing, selecting, deciding... not exactly my strong points... I’d like to give you a big spread, the whole spectrum, from the foods which get you excited because you remember them (or something similar) yourself, via foods that amuse you because of their names, and foods that you’ve never heard of and seem ‘exotic’ to you, all the way to foods that achieved mythical status over the years.
Looking at my long list, I think I shall divide them into three categories:
Sweets & Cakes, (Savoury) Home Cooking, Eating Out
Sweets & Cakes
Some of the sweets I used to love secured their place in my heart purely by the power of their names (so, well done, the marketing department):
Liebesperlen – “Love pearls” (tiny, multicoloured sugar balls)
Katzenzungen – “Cats’ tongues” (flat, elongated pieces of chocolate, supposed to look like cats’ tongues)
[See also footnote 1]
Katzenpfötchen – “Cats’ paws” (small balls of licorice with a soft centre)
Mäusespeck – “Mice belly fat” (marshmallows)
Götterspeise/Wackelpudding/Wackelpeter – “Food of the Gods”/ ”Wobbly Pudding”/”Wobbly Peter” (jelly/jello)
Dr. Oetker Eselchen Zitronenspeise – “Dr. Oetker’s Little Donkey Lemon Dessert” (a lemon mousse dessert; lemon meringue without the meringue)
Gestreifter Affe oder Kalter Hund oder Kalte Schnauze - “Stripey Monkey or Cold Dog or Cold Snout”
This was the cake for kids’ birthday parties. It’s made with coco fat, cocoa powder and biscuits and doesn’t require any cooking. By layering the cocoa mixture and the biscuits, one achieves the stripey effect when cutting slices. (Recipe to follow)
Zitronensuppe – “Lemon Soup”
This was one of my favourites when I was little, it’s just the juice of lemons, egg yolks, sugar, cinnamon. The egg whites are beaten stiff and float on the soup like fluffy swans. (Recipe to follow)
Mohnkuchen – “Poppycake”
My grandmother used to bake the best poppy cake ever, followed closely by my ex-mother-in-law (first marriage). Unfortunately, neither recipe has survived. I once ordered all the ingredients from Germany to embark on a poppy cake adventure (I had gathered several recipes) but if I remember rightly, I never even got round to baking a single one. Every bakery in Germany sells Mohnstreusel (poppy crumble), but none are ever as moist and sumptious as my Oma’s.
My Mum brought this recipe back with her from Hamburg where she had lived for a few years. Our version did not look anything like the picture. It was a very quick mixture of mashed potato, onions and corned beef, with the possible addition of some herring (either Matjes or Grüner Hering), which my Mum had to cut into minute pieces as I hated anything fishy. I think I loved the name as much as the association with sailors and its reputation for being a dish for ‘rough men’.
Kohlrouladen – “Stuffed Cabbage Leaves”
Very much a staple dish of Germany, and indeed, with some variations, of Central and Eastern Europe. The way the cabbage soaks up all the flavours is inimitable. A very underrated vegetable, cabbage. (But I would say that, wouldn’t I? - Recipe to follow)
Linsensuppe mit Mettwürstchen – “Lentil Soup with Smoked Sausages”
Hmm, another dish I never cook because the boys don’t like lentils. I, however, liked this dish so much that I asked for it to be cooked on my birthday. (Mind you – it is in winter!). The best thing about it are undoubtedly the Mettwürstchen (as opposed to the Wiener, which they seem to have in the picture), which everyone in the family love. I can’t get anything like it here, so I import and freeze them. As I de-frosted a pack for this picture, I think I have a yellow split pea soup coming on, which they will just about tolerate for the slices of sausage immersed in it.
Königsberger Klopse – “Meatballs à la Königsberg”
This was probably my very favourite dish as a child. Small meatballs (pork & beef & a small portion of herring) in a light sauce flavoured with capers. Sounds peculiar perhaps, but it is soooo yummy! And it’s one of the few German recipes that my children actually like.
Süße Specksoße – “Sweet Bacon Sauce”
Now, this is something that I absolutely hated as a child – my grandmother’s salad dressing. She used Speck (best translated as a piece of bacon fat, I suppose), which she diced very finely and then fried until crips and brown. White vinegar (very basic vinegar, made from vinegar essence and water) and sugar would be added to this, and the still warm sauce would be poured over the lettuce. I remember it as a pretty gruesome combination. But my brother thinks we should try it sometime, our palates might have changed!
OMG, I have spent so much time writing and researching this, I’ll have to do this very briefly. This is the type of food which I mentioned in an earlier post, dishes which have achieved myth status. One of them was a Jägerschnitzel (an escalope, usu. pork, “hunter’s style”), but unlike the one which you can still eat at virtually any German restaurant, this one came with a sauce of chanterelles (unlike the button mushrooms you get these days). And for some reason, these chanterelles have never been matched (and I’m very jealous of someone here in the food blogging community who reported on being able to buy them fresh and in bulk...).
The others all originate in Carinthia (Southern Austria) and/or Slovenia where we used to spend
our summer holidays. Next year, I’m planning to go back there with my brother (and spouse and sprogs, of course) and try to find them still on the menu... Karawankengeheimnis (Secret of the Karawanken, which is the moutain range between Carinthia and Slovenia), Husarenspieß (Hussar’s kebab), and of course, that Wiener Schnitzel of all times, on the road to Kranska Gora...
So, all that remains is for me to find people to tag who haven’t been part of this meme yet... Not an easy undertaking... I shall try Jenni of Pertelote, and Andrew of spittoon, and Mona of Mona’s Apple. This is how it works:
Below is the meme tree. When it’s your turn, move down the list, drop number one from the top spot, move the numbers down, and place yourself in the number five spot. Don’t forget to link the blogs (except yours).
2. The Cooking Adventures of Chef Paz
3. 80 Breakfasts
5. A Lot On My PLate
 Trying to find a link/photograph, I stumbled over a very funny blog, which I can only recommend to
anyone who reads German, which not only came up with the following (quite disgusting) recipe for Hot Cats’ Paws,
1 bag Katjes Katzenpfötchen
Put a few Katzenpfötchen on a plate in the microwave, briefly heat at maximum temperature, make sure the Katzenpfötchen don’t melt completely. Serve immediately.
but also a discussion on Katzenzungen (see above), which they described as “this auntie prezzie consisting of rather inferior chocolate” – this statement was then hotly debated, culminating in the emergence of more examples of chocolate creations based on inferior chocolate and/or being an offence to the senses:
jaffa cake, Erfrischungsstäbchen and Mon Chéri. The latter, a brandy soaked cherry in dark chocolate, is a distinct favourite of mine and of most of my fellow expats. One of my friends also asks for Erfrischungsstäbchen (‘refreshment sticklets’) to be brought back – which I have to concede, are a bit sickly: small sticks of chocolate, filled with some sugary crust containing either lemon or orange flavoured syrup. In the discussion mentioned above, the jaffa cakes were consistently referred to as jaffa scheiße (i.e. shit), and one participant pointed out that “jaffa cake” when pronounced in German sounded like Jaffakacke anyway...
They also reminded me of another very popular “auntie prezzie” (the only time, apart from birthdays, Easter and Christmas that we’d get any chocolate) was Eiskonfekt , lit. ice confectionary, which comes in rainbow coloured mini aluminium cases and somehow tastes cool (lit., not figuratively). Apparently – I’ve just learnt this from the link (which is a ‘chemistry in action’ site) – this is achieved by a large amount of coco fat and the addition of sorbitol. To intensify the cool effect, it is often kept in the fridge.
 Of particular note is the green variety. The flavour is supposed to be Waldmeister (asperula odorata; galium odoratum; woodruff; reine des bois; belle etoile). It's a herb which flowers between April and June. Apparently, for the jelly, only artificial flavours are used because of the bitter taste. It is also used to make the syrup that goes into Berliner Weisse, and it is the key ingredient for Maibowle (a white wine punch).
 It seems ‘Eselchen’ doesn’t exist any more, but ‘Aranca’ is similar – the website is also another opportunity to cringe at the art of machine translation...
 Königsberg is called Kaliningrad today, and is the capital city of a Russian exclave between Poland and Lithuania. It used to be the capital of the German province Ostpreußen (East Prussia), the earlier fiefs of Ducal Prussia, and before that the Monastic State of the Teutonic Knights. Immanuel Kant, E.T.A. Hoffmann and Lea Rabin (a.m.o.) were born there, and Hannah Arendt grew up in Königsberg.