Whilst on my recent trip to Germany I needed to find (no – not a loo this time - that's another story) a place that sold newspapers. The Badische Neueste Nachrichten – a locally respected newspaper in Karlsruhe – had favourably published two theatre reviews of the Lace Market Theatre productions of Michael Frayn's Benefactors and W. Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. From a few previous visits to Karlsruhe I remembered the location of what turned out to be a branch of the Cap chain of mini supermarkets and so I trekked down Kaiser Allée in search of this establishment and its excellent car parking facilities in front of the store. That's my sponsorship fee sorted.
It was easy enough to find. Once inside I found myself distracted by the dried Spätzle products and fascinated by the German names for the dried herbs on offer as well as the lip smacking abundance of delicious smoked meats to tempt the tongue and the senses. Maybe that should be lippen schmakking although my schpellchecker now alerts me to bad schpelling. Bad Schpelling? Now that sounds like a spa town in southern Bavaria. I move on... Los Geht's...
During my perusal of the mini-markt I happened to halt by the meat counter and asked the lady if I could take some photos. She looked a bit freaked out by my request and wasn't overly placated by my admittance/confession of being English and also a worker behind a similar counter at Tesco. Perhaps I should have pronounced my employers name as Teschco. After a few awkward moments there was a momentary concession to photos being taken. However, it was abundantly clear that Frau Cap did not want to appear in my blog post. In fact the middle aged lady pretty much ran away as soon as I whipped out my equipment! Such is the proverbial story of my life.
The counter looked very similar to any English supermarket meat counter with a few clear exceptions. There were recognisable cuts but also quite a big section of marinated meat products adding colour and interest and some of the bigger non-marinated joints showed darker elements of meat cutting and ageing that would be dismissed by many British customers buying meat in a supermarket. Sadly, at home there is still this ignorant illusion that meat is some kind of plastic product that looks perfectly pink/red all of the time and if there appears to be any sort of natural discolouration in the flesh then this is something to worry about or query about in terms of freshness.
Part of me wishes that my German language was a greater level and that I would have been able to have a lovely chat with Frau Cap on the supermarket meat counter. Not quite busman's holiday chit chat but something akin to this and perhaps something I could have gained knowledge from and shared it with my readers. Alas Frau Cap stayed hidden behind the scenes until the scary English nutcase had gone from sight and she was able to return to her job of fondling the Wurstle (little sausages).
On picking up one the supermarket's free promotional leaflets I was marginally interested to see that they had pre-packed meat products just the same as in the UK but with regional differences like the mixed beef and pork stew pack (Gulasch-gemischt) for Goulash and the fatty pork shoulder steaks had the more prosaic and slightly Sweeney Todd description of Pig Throat Steaks. “Ja, I would like some of your cut throat pork steaks (Schweine Hals-Kotelett) please, Herr Todd. They are for a big juicy pie I am making.”