The Other White Meat

Trip Start Oct 25, 2007
Trip End May 15, 2008

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Flag of Germany  ,
Tuesday, January 8, 2008

When I first arrived in Cologne back in November, I told Steve that I wasn't going to try any authentic German food while we were here. The mere smell of sauerkraut made my stomach turn. Since we managed to avoid it for the first two weeks, I felt pretty safe in knowing that I wouldn't ever have to try it if I didn't want to. My confidence was further enhanced by the fact that every restaurant in Cologne is required to post their menu at the entrance outside. Good for me because I was able to see exactly what they served before we even walked in the door. If I couldn't understand what was on the menu, we kept walking!

Well, one night we stopped into this pub to watch a soccer game. Since we hadn't eaten dinner beforehand, we were both really hungry. Halfway through the game we asked the bartender for a menu. As soon as I looked at it, I knew I was in big trouble...the bar only served German food.

At first I wanted to leave at half time, go somewhere else to eat, and then come back. But I realized if we did that, we would probably miss the rest of the game. So I simply told Steve that I wasn't as hungry as I thought I was and that I could wait until later to have dinner. He laughed at me and said, "I know you are hungry and the only reason you don't want to eat here is because you don't want to try the food, isn't it?" Even though he was absolutely right, I refused to admit it.

Realizing that I was now stuck here whether I wanted to be or not, I grabbed the menu and started looking it over. When I noticed that every single item was in German, I began to panic. We have been very fortunate so far in that most of the restaurants here have had English translations on their menus. But this time we were not so lucky.

As I continued browsing through the menu, I finally saw a word that I recognized...pommes (the German word for french fries). I beamed as I said to Steve, "I know what I'm going to get!" When I told him I was ordering fries for dinner, he shook his head and said, "You can't just get french fries for dinner. This is the perfect opportunity for you to experience German culture so you have to give it a try." I decided that maybe he was right and so I kept searching.

The more I looked, the more I realized that nothing made any sense to me. The entrée's were in German, the descriptions of the entrée's were in German, even the types of salads were in German. I finally gave up and out of sheer frustration, I slammed my menu on the table. "This is why I don't eat German food!" I protested.

Once Steve calmed me down, we went through the menu together and did the best we could to "decipher" things. Hidden within it somewhere we found "Gyros". Since they were the only thing I recognized other than french fries, I decided to order those. After I made my selection, I asked Steve what he was going to order. He proudly replied, "Wienerschnitzel". Just the sound of it scared me. When I asked him what it was and he said, "I have no idea"...that scared me even more!

While we were waiting for our meals to arrive, I began to feel a little bit nervous. Even though I have heard of gyros before, I've never actually had one. When we finally got our food, I was surprised to see how appetizing Steve's dinner looked compared to mine. For some reason, I was expecting gyros to be thin beef strips in soft pita bread. Instead I got a pile of meat next to some skimpy fries.

I took a bite of mine and I literally had to choke it down it tasted SO bad. It was a cross between rotten meat and Lowrey's salt. As I watched Steve eating his Wienerschnitzel, I stared in jealousy because it looked so much better than what I was trying to stomach. Every time he took a bite, I looked at my pile of smelly meat in disgust.

After five minutes of pushing my gyro meat around with my fork trying to pretend like I was eating it, Steve finally asked me, "What's the matter, don't you like yours?" I said, "It's OK. I just don't care for the spices...they're a little strange." He replied, "Oh, I thought maybe it was because it was lamb meat". LAMB...I about fell of my chair. I had NO idea. Now I really felt like I was going to throw up. If I had known it was lamb, I never would have ordered it. Now I know why it tasted so funny.

I'm quite sure Steve saw my face turn gray once he told me that because shortly thereafter, he asked me if I wanted to try some of his. He cut off a little piece and put it on my plate. From a glance it looked like breaded chicken but then again the gyro meat looked like beef so I couldn't be sure. I finally asked him, "So what kind of meat is this?" He laughed and said, "Don't worry honey, it's Pork!"

I ate the first bite very cautiously not knowing what to expect. The last thing I wanted to do was embarrass myself by spitting it out into my napkin. To my great surprise, it was fantastic! In fact, it tasted better than any breaded chicken patty I have ever had! I ate the small piece Steve gave me and tried really hard not to appear greedy when all I wanted was more!

We've been in Germany for almost two months now and when we are not eating pizza or pasta, I am ordering wienerschniztel and fries. For a person who swore off German food from the day I got here, I am so glad I gave it a try! I will eat wienerschniztel (pork patties) any day over chicken now and as far as I am concerned, pork is so much more than just the "Other White Meat"!
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