A FUN FAIR FOR FAMILIES WITH A FLAVOR FOR FATTY FOOD
The mesmerizing atmosphere around Aachen Christmas market is a good runner up towards the Christmas climax at the end of the year. The old city center or “Alte Innerstad”, makes you wonder back in time; old overhanging cafe’s with little glass windows and bakeries piled high with the delishes Aachner Printen. I have to stop buying them because they never get old when I am around.
The lit up red roofed stands on the town hall market are filled with a variety of sometimes handcrafted products, from bees wax candles to warm gloves, nativity scenes in all sizes and, of course, bears, balls, bratwurst and beer. And do not forget the gluhwein! I can tell that you: visiting anything that would make me warm tripled my interest this day. Ohhhhhh it was so cold and wet.
To keep your motor running and your heating on you have to fill up your engine, and that was available all around me. People duck under their umbrellas, caps and hoods sheltering form the winter wonder weather. It is time to make a choice out of the vast variety of all these foods which trigger your appetite with their sight and smell. There is the smell of roasted nuts and popcorn in the air, alongside with baked sausages and fries, hot chocolate milk and warm wine. It is mostly affordable fatty food, so you can already start saving money for your new work out gear for 2013, because Light Cuisine has passed this city.
Something real German are the “Reibekuche” or potato pancakes, they are deep-fried and come with applesauce or mayonnaise. They are warm, they are fatty, and they are very tasty. After this you musn’t check your oil level.
We split up and I come across the “Hans and Gretel” stand of Marianne and Udo Kaiser. Sweets everywhere, sugar love hearts, little angels and Santa Clauses are hanging from colored ribbons looking out over a wide field of sweets beneath them. Udo, already fifty years in business, proudly tells me that his daughter Doris, was educated at “Konditorei Heinemann”, one of the better German patisseries, located in Mönchengladbach.
When your sweet tooth is satisfied here, you move on to Rolf Lemmen, butcher by profession.. Here the sausages are hanging in bundles like Christmas decorations.
Everything here is “Hausmacher’ or homemade. You can buy “blood sausage” and bake them with apple for lunch like my mother did, “thanks ma”. Or try a solid goulash soup, the kind you have to pull your spoon out with force. Rolf is living the long German tradition of his trade and is proud to share something special with me! He wraps some “Apfel-Griebnschmalz” on bread, and at home I give it a try.
But before I give my opinion on the matter you have to understand that “Schmalz” is mainly pure pork fat! This is from times when people worked six to seven days a week on the fields, in the mines or factories. No cruises round the pacific or “Club Met” activities for these people! Their bodies had to work hard often in bad conditions so that they craved for fuel, for fat, which was a cheap product flavored with salt or sometimes sugar.
So this “Schmalz” from Rolf is a luxurious version of the poor-mans paté and I was brave in trying, a local friend told me. She worked as a butchers wife and did not like it at all, only for backing things like liver and “black Puddings”, the pork fat keeps the meat more juice than just butter she tells me.
Michael Pollan, a fierce health food fighter worth looking into, says; “Don’t eat anything your grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.”. But what if I don’t recognize the thing my grandmother was eating? This “schmalz” tastes like an old soapy ashtray with a fine greasy grit. This is not my cup of tea, the British would say. But maybe you will like it, thanks all the same Rolf.
Lets get sweet again with “Dampfnudeln”, or steamed bread with vanilla sauce, topped with cherries or Cinnamon. It looks like a “yellow submarine” floating in a yellow sea with little red buoys. The dough is not sweetened so you can serve it either with a sweet vanilla sauce or with something savory like a stew or potato soup.
To celebrate the day and warm our internal and external parts we land in the ‘Gluhwein-bar”, very welcomely heated with radiant heaters from the ceiling, definitely one of the better places around. This warm wine is nicely spiced and comes in mugs. The quality of this wine is so much better than the average sweet water you buy in the shops at this time of the year. So lets finish with a recipe of homemade “Gluhwein”, or hot mulled wine.
SPICY WARM WINE RECIPE
WHAT YOU NEED :
- 750 ml. of pleasant red wine, not the cheap stuff please
- 200 ml. of red port
- 100 g sugar, preferable brown
- 6 cloves
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 1/3 of a whole nutmeg, freshly grated
- peal of 1 orange and 1 lemon, cut into peaces
- If you fancy, you can add some cardamom or ginger root
HOW TO MAKE IT :
Heat the wine over a low fire for five minutes,
together with all the ingredients except the port
Do not boil the wine
Take of the heat, add the port, and leave it for one hour
Reheat before using and than strain trough a sieve
I wish you a warm December month with cold weather
the Dutch Cook
ps. What is your favorite around Christmas ? Tell your story
Recipe of the steam bread http://www.steffensdinners.com/content/dampfnudeln
Another recipe of the steam bread http://www.bavariankitchen.com/sides/dampfnudeln.aspx
The Wunderlich family http://www.fuerstliche-leckereien.de/index.html
The butcher “Lemmen” http://www.metzgerei-lemmen.de/
The Aachen Christmas Market info http://www.germany-christmas-market.org.uk/aachen_christmas_market.php