We needed a quick lunch, so we decided (I mean, my wife demanded) to have a bite at the Christmas market. An annual favorite is called Kartoffelpuffer, which is a fried potato patty made from shredded potatoes. This is often translated as potato pancake.
Some might see a similarity to hash browns, but I do not. The Swiss serve something similar, which they call rösti, but is made in a frying pan and has less fat.
A good Kartoffelpuffer is best bought at a market stand and served right from the fryer with apple sauce. A normal serving is three. Nothing else is needed (because they are filling). One might think that apple sauce does not fit with potato, but one sampling of this German “delicacy” (hardly delicate) with change your mind.
Each time we “enjoy” this food item, I remind my wife of the time she ate eight (yes, 8) Kartoffelpuffer when pregnant with our first child. That was on a snowy night at the Frankfurt Christmas market.
To this day, she neither regrets the binge nor minds me reminding her.
As umbrellas suggest, there was little winter atmosphere at the Christmas market. Still, a bellyful of greasy potatoes was just the thing for a cold, damp day. Even if trying to keep from getting wet while eating did detract from the enjoyment.
I made another heartening discovery at the Christmas (nod to S.P.) market: not all children's toys are produced in Chinese factories.
Of course, most kids probably want plastic and electronic gadgets and playthings, but parents do have the choice...
German Christmas (once again, Sarah Palin must be pleased) markets offer a lot of the same each year, but occasionally something new comes along. Wondering along behind two happy kids (wife and Number One Grandchild) I stumbled across a stand selling what I thought was rusty tools and nuts and bolts. Surprised at why anyone, beside antique fans, would want such things, I looked closer.
My nose told me that this was not rusty metal, but something far more appealing to the masses. I was impressed with the ingenuity of the human mind and the ability of some craftsman to think of and be able to make chocolate look like rust.
_ The weather is providing no warning of the pending Christmas onslaught. Fortunately, in Germany one must merely take note of Christmas street markets popping us like mushrooms after the rain (which have not been popping, due to lack of rain this year).
Some towns have a market on a single weekend. My town traditionally holds theirs on the first Advent, perhaps in hopes of garnering people’s money early in the buying season. Other markets run for the entire Advent period, with the larger cities being well-known. Most people have heard of the Nuremburg market; I have been once (although I only arrived a few minutes before closing time and wandered around watching people close up for the night).
What one finds at these markets is mostly food, plus a selection of Christmas decorations. It is still possible to find items made from wood and not produced in China. People tend to eat and drink, with some of the items on offer being seasonal. Gluhwein (mini-German Word of the Day: hot mulled wine) is a big favorite. Potato pancakes with apple sauce is a big favorite, especially with pregnant women. Don’t ask why.
Snow and cold adds to the charm of Christmas markets, but the weather is mostly damp and cool. Fog tends to dampen spirits and reduce turnover. The weather for the market in my town has not been too different than the weather in July.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.