The World’s Greatest Snack Food?

Some background: in German, the word “Imbiss” is loosely translated in to English as “snack bar”. One of the best examples was this one (apparently a temporary structure because a friend looking for it later couldn’t find it):

It was located at the beginning of the Graben, Vienna’s premier pedestrian mall in the Old City (Altstadt), just across from St. Stephan’s Cathedral (Stefansdom). (I’m translating so that future visitors can find them on a map or on signposts, because this is how they’re commonly listed.)

Anyway, what set this particular Imbiss apart from all the others was their bratwurst hot dog sandwich — not so much for the food, although it was delicious, but for its preparation. Allow me to explain.

The footlong (or whatever that is in metric) buns are kept warm in a steam oven, just as they are in the U.S. What’s different is that when it’s time to put the brats into the bread, they aren’t slit open lengthwise, oh no. That would make it a messy sandwich, which would be unerträglich to the neat ‘n tidy Austrians.

Instead, the bun is impaled on a very hot spike, which does two things: it makes an opening for the bratwurst to be inserted, and it toasts the bun on the inside.

Now for the bratwurst. It’s not just any old sausage, oh no; it has great hunks of cheese embedded in the meat, and the brats are heated on rollers similar to the one you see at 7-11 — only these rollers are really hot because the cheese melts inside the sausage, in some cases even bursting through the skin, making a crust of burned cheese around the sausage. (Are you drooling yet?)

The vendor will ask you if you want the burnt cheese scraped off (the answer of course should be “Nein, nein! Bitte lassen Sie die Käse!”), whereafter he will insert the sausage into the roll after first squirting some wondrous German mustard down inside the opening.

What you will have (as Daughter exclaimed loudly upon tasting her first one) is the world’s greatest hot dog, and quite possible the world’s greatest snack food, period. It also makes no mess when you eat it — unless you bite into the brat too quickly, which will make melted cheese and sausage fat run down your chin. Here’s the finished product (from the excellent Philosophy and Madeleines blog), but I’m afraid the pic just doesn’t do it justice:

(And of course, keine Coca-Cola, bitte; you have to eat it with a beer — sold at the same outlet.)

I have no idea whether this is a Viennese style of preparation or a common German one. I do know that I’ve never found its like anywhere I’ve looked, whether in southern Germany, the Rhineland or even in Salzburg.

I would hesitate to recommend visiting Vienna purely to experience this wonderfully-delicious snack, but then again there are about a thousand equally-good reasons to go to Vienna. Just add it to the list of things to experience in the Austrian capital, one of my top three favorite places in the whole world.

Next time: Gulaschsuppe and where to find it.

Enter The Food Nannies

Here we go again:

Britain is set to be put on a nationwide diet from March this year as public health officials impose new calorie caps.
Lunches and dinners are to be cut to 600 calories at fast food outlets and on ready meal shelves at supermarkets, in new guidelines from Public Health England (PHE).
Breakfast portions will be cut down to 400 calories as the government aims to stop Britons overeating and combat high obesity rates.

FFS; is there no area of our lives that is exempt from this busybody we-know-what’s-best-for-you bullshit? (My advice: if the nu-meal seems inadequate, buy two instead of one. That will do two things: stick it in their eye, and end your stomach’s growling.)

But it gets worse, O My Readers. From the same article:

A separate study by researchers at Oxford University also found that current alcohol guidelines may be too generous.

As one of my heroes once put it:

As any fule kno, I’m on a diet at the moment. But when I see shit like this, I want to go to a pub, eat a double portion of fish ‘n chips, and wash it down with five pints of Wadworth 6x. Here’s the starter:

Or, if this bullshit ever comes to this side of The Pond, take down a couple-three family buckets of KFC (Original Recipe) with a dozen Classic Cokes.

Now, this wouldn’t be a pretty sight. But it would be a lot prettier than the alternative:

Stupid Idea

January is a crappy month, especially in the northern hemisphere: cold, dark skies, short days, no Christmas holidays to look forward to, and (in the U.S.) the prospect of filing your tax return.

Which makes me wonder why people would want to make the month even more miserable by suggesting that this would be a good time to cut out those things which can alleviate our misery (“Veganuary”, how cute; and “Dry January”). What infamy is this? As if January isn’t shitty enough, now we have to add itching powder to the hairshirt by giving up meat and beer?

It’s only 7am as I write this, yet I feel a nagging need for steak ‘n (butter-fried) eggs, washed down with a Bloody Mary — and we’re not even halfway through the month.

I am getting so sick of people trying to change our lifestyle and behavior “for your own good” — it’s like living with Gwyneth Paltrow and Chuck Schumer in your house, with no earplugs to drown out their endless nagging do-goodery.

Leave me the fuck alone.

Christmas Dinner

If you’re crippled with guilt over the upcoming feast known as Christmas dinner, fear not. Some doctor bloke has debunked most of the myths associated with “bad foods”:

If you’re to follow the clean-eating gurus of our time, your life – and waistline – depend on avoiding carbs and sugar and dairy. By that logic, the indulgent dinners over the Christmas period sound like a death wish.
In actual fact, there is not much evidence underpinning these fads, points out Dr Aaron Carroll, a nutritionist and physician at Indiana University.

The fact that Dr. Carroll thinks the World Health Organization (and by extension, Gwyneth Paltrow et al.) are full of shit makes me feel quite festive.

So go ahead: enjoy yourselves, as will I. I’m spending Christmas Day with a longtime friend and her adult kids. See y’all later.

 

Buzzing Around

So after arriving at Heathrow yesterday, I wasted no time in re-submerging myself into Britishland culture: sausage roll and a cuppa at the station at 10am, followed by a lunchtime pint of Fuller’s London Pride (my tipple of choice where Wadworth 6X isn’t available).

…which I imbibed at this fine establishment:

For this last leg of my sabbatical, I’m staying in another hotel in Ye Olde Fleabagge Inne chain, this time in Earl’s Court. It’s been many years since I stayed here, but fortunately, it hasn’t changed much — although I continue to lament the disappearance of the excellent Hi-Tide chippie: last night’s fish & chips dinner in a nearby pub was mediocre. (I won’t mention the fucking background music because it was so loud it was actually foreground music, requiring that conversation had to be shouted to be audible; and in true Earl’s Court fashion — because all residents of Earl’s Court appear to be ESL* — the screams emanating from the neighboring table to mine sounded like a conversation between Latke and Simka from the Taxi TV show.)

All that said, I love Earl’s Court; it’s regarded with absolute horror by the upper crust — and I have had several letters from friends in said demographic commiserating with my plight — but I can think of no better catalyst to wake me from my somnolence after having relaxed in one of Johannesburg’s toniest suburbs for the past two weeks.

The difference between this:

…and this cannot be overstated.

And now, if you’ll excuse me… I’m off to find a decent Full English Breakfast amidst the curry palaces, Italian bistros, vegan vendors and halaal kebab restaurants hereabouts. If you’re looking for me, I’ll be the only bloke in the place who’s reading the Daily Telegraph.

I love London.


*ESL = English [as] Second Language, to my non-U.S. Readers.