Birthdays, Sauerbraten and Knödel

Sauerbraten black and white 2 Here’s another update on my rapidly dwindling days in Germany. The last of these will be spent in Berlin, because, well, I figured I’d go visit it since I’m here. However, for now that is in the future. Instead, this is what I’m up to at the moment.

I have been to not one, but two, birthday parties in the last three days. The world is aging, it would appear to be an unstoppable process. The ages being celebrated were 45 and 91. I recall a time in my life when I was partaking in 18 and 21 celebrations. I wonder if those halcyon days are forever behind me.

The first birthday party was held in a pottery shop. I expressed my doubts as to the wisdom of this, as a birthday from my understanding involves drinking, and drinking and pottery shops are not something I believe go well together. I was, however, assured that it was not that sort of party. I obviously panicked somewhat at this point. What do we mean by not that sort of party? Would there be no drink? No riotousness? No crazy falling over into pottery? It turned out that it was largely the last part of these that was the case. There was certainly plenty of drink, and delightful food, and lots of pottery to avoid falling into. I succeeded in this task, imbibed plenty of drink, and weaved onto the last train home.

The second birthday party was a more serious affair. My girlfriends grandmother had turned 91, the sort of age which everyone in the family turns up to celebrate, as there is always the worry that the next year may not be being celebrated. So multiple family members were there. Photos were taken, in which I featured. All tremendously exciting.

Of course, the highlight of the evening was the trip out to dinner, where I had my first try of a classic German dish known as Sauerbraten. This literally translates as sour meat, which isn’t the most appetising sounding of dishes.

PotteryLuckily, translation isn’t always the best way to judge a meal. The meat (which can be from a variety of animals, including horse, but more commonly cow), is marinated for a few days in a sort of pickle type juice, including wine, vinegar and a variety of spices. It is then dried and cooked with the strained marinade in a pot roast, for a prolonged period of time.

The end result had a very similar texture to salt beef (a favourite of mine), with a slight tang of vinegar, and a rich gravy. It was melt in your mouth stuff, and really excellent. It was served, as is traditional, with Knödel, another German favourite. These are basically potato based dumplings made without yeast, which look innocuous enough on your plate, and but mysteriously act as weighty balls of lead in your stomach. Multiple Knödel cannot be eaten without much practice.

The whole thing was washed down with beer, and then finished off with a giant pancake thing. Healthy eating this was not. Still, grandma seemed happy, and that is presumably the idea with any birthday event.

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