Sunday, 27 December 2009 by kinakoJam
This Taai Popje traveled all around the world in order to have me bite its head off. My sister bought it in a Dutch store in NZ and sent it to me in Germany. The chewy, not-too-sweet coriander-infused Dutch gingerbread is quite different to the more biscuit-like German lebkuchen (also delicious). It melts to a pleasantly sticky-gluggy consistency in your mouth.
There aren't many traditional German dishes that can make me seriously salivate just by looking at a (crap phone-cam) photo of them. Maybe it's my cheese-loving Dutch blood, but our boxing day meal of Swabian Kässpätzle (with vinegary potato-cucumber salad for added carbs) inspired absolute devotion in me. It's a treat I'd definitely recommend to anyone who's skeptical of German cuisine.
Our workmate Wulf comes from the Swabian-speaking area of Baden-Württemberg, where this is a traditional dish. He and his girlfriend Dagmar made the noodle dough and chopped it freestyle off a board in thin strips into the boiling water. Then they baked it in a glass casserole dish coated in a not-too-greasy mix of emmentaler and aged british cheddar cheese, topped with very thin strips of toasted onion.
If angels in heaven eat mac 'n' cheese, I am sure it tastes exactly like this.
Here is a recipe - just swap in your favourite type of cheese.
For dessert Wulf served us delectable baked apples stuffed with real marzipan (different to the stiff white stuff on wedding cakes), topped with whipped cream and a drizzle of rum.
If I was in the market for a heart attack, I'd eat this menu for a month. It could be a nice way to go.
I am a kitsch-hound and a christmas aficionado, but I do have standards. There's only one Christmas market in the world for me, and it's the Market of Angels on Neumarkt square.
The market by the cathedral is too fake and touristy. The market on Rudolfplatz is too trashy (they sell mobile phones and young hoodlums ride a carousel that includes a motorbike and a police car). The market at Stadtgarten is polite and bourgeois, a haunt of Cologne's liberal elite, where everyone seems to wear brown.
But the market on Neumarkt is just right.
I can't imagine going to these places to buy souvenirs - but to drink two hot mulled glühwein under twinkling star lanterns in the trees is something I actually look forward to all year.
Importantly, the christmas market on Neumarkt also has yummy things to eat. For example, egg-spiked potato pancakes with applesauce. Or the stall selling crispy skinned flame-grilled salmon (nailed to boards over a fire), which drips its grease into soft white rolls smeared with creme fraiche and a lettuce leaf (see pictures above and below).
Our pescatarian friend Celia, visiting from Australia with her winking Irish boyfriend Dave, was quite a fan of these.
Another treat from the Neumarkt christmas market is the Flammkuchen (everything delicious here seems to be born of the flames).
From the Alsace region, similar to a pizza, the brownish sourdough base comes hot from the oven – topped with creme fraiche, little specks of bacon (check the pun: speck means bacon in German) and thin strips of onion. You can alternatively choose a less traditional, but still satisfying, mix of vegetables and salty grilled cheese. This is a market that (unusually) caters well to vegetarians.
It is always tragic when the Christmas markets close for the season, leaving behind a quiet grey snow slush in the absence of twinkles. The stone angels are chained up on trucks on Christmas eve, with a poignant smell of aniseed candies floating on the air. life is all about goodbyes and new beginnings. In this case, a new beginning of me not eating deep fried 'reibekuchen' potato pancakes with apple sauce every other day (until next christmas of course)