What is culture? Art, buildings, music, dance, language, some might say religion, and the endless imagination of individual human beings responding to their environment. But just as important, and possibly more, is the food that was grown and altered by humans to sustain life. This week's blog is off the subject of cathedrals, government buildings, and abbeys, but still involves art of a different sort - the art of food and drink.
Through trial and error, people in our very distant past created things out of necessity, such as beer and wine. Clean drinking water was unavailable in much of the world (and unfortunately still is in many countries on Planet Earth) until the 19th and 20th centuries. But one thing people determined quite some time ago was that alcohol seemed safe to drink. Thus, beer and wine both filled the basic hydration need. It is said that just outside the 15th century Kaiserburg, or Imperial Castle in Nuremberg, were underground spaces that held four football fields worth of beer. It, technically, was the "water supply." Grapes and therefore wine was in the mix as well. But with the introduction of wonderful New World plants brought by explorers, the stage was set for a major explosion in crop, food, and beverage production.
Thus, we find members of the Capsicum and Pimenta families, New World crops (as most of the peppers are except black pepper), in a Budapest market. The paprika pepper ranges in heat from sweet to quite hot, and I cannot begin to identify the types of peppers in this photograph. But I am grateful to Christopher Columbus.
Farmers' Markets generally expected shoppers to know the product. Many signs indicated the specific type, such as Sommer Rot or summer red rather than indicating apple. Perhaps a redundancy?
Think what you like about these members of the Fungi kingdom, but I looked askance and laughed almost immediately upon seeing them at the Nuremberg Farmers' Market.
Is there a fungi expert reading this? I don't know what these beauties are but I bet they are either extremely tasty or therapeutic or both.
The Bavarian city of Bamberg, among other things, is known for its Rauchbier or smokey beer. It can be sampled at the Historical Brewery Tavern Schlenkerla. A good thing to note: only 17 ounce steins are served here and for me, that was a lot of beer! In the image below, beer is expertly poured, with the exact head on each glass, from a wooden barrel. This gentleman really knew what he was doing, and still, in the afternoon between lunch and dinner, was filling glasses as quickly as the waitresses could carry them away.
On board ship, A Taste of Germany dinner was held two nights before we reached Amsterdam. It was an opportunity not only to reveal the secrets of the ship's kitchen, but to put German cuisine front and center. There had to be at least ten different varieties of sausage, as well as other roasts and meats, wonderful potatoes, sauerkraut, on and on. I can give the roast pork no better descriptor than perfect.
The evening would have been incomplete if I didn't have one of these pretzels, nor the table dressed without a glass of wine.
All made possible by Chef Robert Hudak who seems to take such joy in the food and beverages we know and love today, thanks to mistakes and experiments of our fellow humans past and present!.
until next Monday,
a passion for the [email protected]