Germany does Christmas Markets unlike any place I’ve ever personally seen. In the States – yeah, we have shop windows that are all done up with plastic Rudolphs and dressed-up bearded-bikers with kids on their laps in the middles of malls; but in Germany – there are some seriously done-up little X-mas towns. Oberhausen I heard was known as having one of the best Christmas markets in Germany, so it was perfect that we had a day off there on the In Flames European tour.
I celebrate Christmas in I suppose what could be called the modernists’ sense; not the religious aspect (not that I am anti-religious by any means) but in the sense that it’s about being with friends and family and eating and drinking lots of good stuff that you don’t really eat throughout the rest of the year. Paolo and I met up with Ella and Dennis and one of their pals – Robert (my buddy from Poland) was due to meet up with us later on in the night. We were off to the markets.
Oberhausen’s market entrance lies deceivingly by the entrance of a large shopping mall. I say deceivingly since the entrance makes it look like the whole market is about 5-6 stalls tops; I soon discovered that a path led behind the mall with the markets’ expanse stretching well beyond my line of sight. Little country-style booths with smiling German women waving you in each carried a different delicacy; some with cheeses or smoked meats, some with currywurst or reibekuchen, some with Christmasy booze.
The first stall we hit dished out fatty-delicious chunks of pork stuffed into a simple roll. Meaty, porky, (a little chewy, little tough) – nevertheless good stuff. Ella came up with a skewer of strawberries with a white chocolate shell and dark chocolate dressing – this was sugary and milky in it’s white-chocolate tastiness. You really feel as if you’re transported back into the old bearded fat-man’s land when you traverse the German markets in wintertime – all that extra chub and beard start to make sense… it’s freaking cold in European wintertime! We make a stop to a place that has hot mulled German wine.
Greeted with a glass that reads “bicker lam”, you can smell the herbs nicely cooking in their viscous Orc-liquor color. This is the stuff that warms the soul back up. You taste something along the lines of red wine, a gingerbread house, and winter spices. I **** back a couple of these and work the appetite back up for some currywurst. Currywurst is iconically German. Mention it to any German and you’ll get a smile back and maybe a moan of pleasure. Curry sauce, chopped up sausage – all mixed up in a soupy mess – served with some bread. As traditional as it gets for German mop-up-your-booze, heart-warming drunk-food.
I’ve had many a latka in my day, but never the German version – reibekuchen. It’s essentially the exact same thing, a potato pancake of chopped up potato, deep fried in a healthy batch of heart-cloggingly-good oil, served simply with some salt on top and apple sauce. Couple one of those bad boys with some Konig Pilsener and you are in business my friend. We ripped through those, then some crepe-type beasts stuffed with Nutella and bananas and white chocolate, then it was time for a break.
We headed back to the hotels to lay around for a while to regain our appetite for the Polish feast that would mark the arrival of our Polish pal Robert.