CHOCOLATE and SAUERKRAUT (4) - To Market, To Market
When I die I want to come back as the two Neuland merguez sausages I had for lunch at Hackescher Markt (that is, if I'm allowed to come back as two things rather than one). My first Neuland wurst was an exceptional eating experience for a variety of reasons:
1. I was totally famished from my walk all the way from Neukoeln and probably would have reached similar levels of gastronomic ecstasy over cold frankfurters.
2. I hardly ever buy food that I myself don’t have to prepare, due to severe financial restraints. The taste of something not made by me has the same effect on my mood as a steamy affair—exhilaration followed by guilt.
3. The young man who sold them to me was cute and he let me taste the sausage before I bought it. Then he stuffed the wurst with a bite taken out of it into the brotchen. A bit tawdry, don’t you think?
4. The merguez links themselves were perfect. Oily, spicy, crunchy and doused in sweet ketchup.
Later, when I was still hungry I bought a half order of couscous and turkey stew from a French man, and it was absolute heaven to conduct an entire transaction in a language other than English and have both parties understand what was being said.
It seems the market season is upon us here in Berlin, but these markets are not all created equal. For example, the zoo that is the Alexanderplatz Christmas market has about as much quaint charm as a New Jersey turnpike food-court. I know these Christmas markets are supposed to be lovely and traditional and everything but all they seem to be full of are tacky slippers, karaoke enthusiasts and ridiculously expensive gluhwine served in thimbles. The Hackescher Markt has that “less is more” Christmas feel to it, which I appreciate. A little holly, some pine wreaths and an ornament or two is about all the Christmas jollity I can take. Though with full disclosure I must admit that I was also a child who waited in absurdly long lines at various shopping malls in Los Angeles just so I could sit on Santa’s lap and tell him I was Jewish. “So am I,” he once replied, “but you’ve got to make a living somehow.”
Still, one gets caught up in the season’s offerings. I must admit that I’ve never had venison on Christmas day, and I am curious to taste my first Stollen. As far as warm alcoholic beverages go, I much prefer a Hot Toddy to gluhwine, which tastes exactly like licking a Christmas candle to me. Hot Toddy's are more like grog and very simple to make:
Put a fair amount of good whiskey, honey, and lemon juice in a mug. Top off with boiling water and stir until honey is dissolved. If that doesn't fill you with christmas cheer, just keep adding whiskey till you feel it.
(Sabrina Small was born in Los Angeles, California in 1980. The eldest child of a food obsessed, Eastern European Jewish family; Sabrina developed an early love of all things culinary and decadent. In 2006, she received a Masters in Gastronomy from Boston University. She has worked as a line cook, fromagier, caterer, food instructor and writer. She moved to Berlin in the summer of 2007 with her boyfriend and has since been exploring her culinary roots and getting drunk a lot.)