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November 20, 2014

Elementary school is largely awful for teaching kids about food. Candy is given out as rewards, the students were encouraged by their teacher to buy Sunny D, and in music class they learned the fast food song.

And that’s without even stepping foot in the cafeteria. Let’s not even go there today.

When I was in grade school I had to do a project on Greece. Actually, I was on a team with my oldest friend ADS. Part of the project involved making a food from the country. Maybe my mom will remember how two fifth grade boys came up with Greek salad. I don’t. What I do remember was ADS wanting to shred the lettuce into itsy bitsy pieces like they did in Disney World.

We shredded that lettuce with our fingernails. By the time of the presentation, the salad was a disgusting mess. Our wooden bowl, filled with browning torn bits of lettuce, reeking of feta, and swimming in dressing was placed in the school refrigerator. Before we could present it to the class, some public-health minded janitor, threw the whole thing (bowl and all) into the dumpster.

Today, Young Master Fussy has an international culture project of his own. And just like any normal parent, I’ve taken it upon myself to use this opportunity to rewrite the wrongs of the past.

It’s Germany. He made a good German friend at the institute last year. So I ask, “What kind of food would you like to bring?”

Sausage.

Fortunately, I happen to know we’ve got a great place to get German sausage in the Capital Region. It’s Rolf’s pork store. And I can’t believe it’s been over a year since I’ve been through its doors. This place is a gem. It’s a true regional treasure. Because Rolf’s has been curing their own meats long before it became popular. And some of the things they have you won’t find anywhere else.

The staff was incredibly receptive to the boy as he asked questions, trying to hone in on the best sausage for the job.

Yesterday, I braised a crapton of red cabbage as a background activity. We had a bunch that had piled up from the CSA in the fridge. And I figured braised red cabbage would be a helpful component to bring along for a German sausage sampling.

With this in mind, the lovely women behind the counter pointed us in the direction of Rolf’s Bauernwurst. It’s already cooked, so we don’t have to worry about raw pork when serving it to the kids classmates. And it’s a bit more interesting than your everyday knockwurst, which is described as not much different than an extra thick hotdog.

But we couldn’t leave with just that. The kids were offered mini-hot dogs to snack on while we were shopping. However, I also wanted them to try a frikadellen, which was warmed up for us and eaten out of hand. We picked up some sliced ham, one of the ones that’s made in house. I also got a giant meaty ham hock which is going to transform my split pea soup from delicious to glorious.

Ooh. What’s that over there?

Next to where the smoked pork chop ends normally live, there was a double-smoked bacon end. Oh wow. Thick streaks of fat. Crusty smoked exterior. Skin on. I had to have it. My precious.

I also thought it made sense to have a wurst dinner the night before the presentation. In part to give Young Master Fussy a broader knowledge of German sausages. But also because Mrs. Fussy is out of town in California, so why not have a pork fat dinner. There was weisswurst, knockwurst and a sweet bratwurst.

A chunk of the double smoked bacon end got cut up into a bit of the braised cabbage. The brat went into a pan with the cabbage. The weisswurst was gently heated in a bowl of hot water. The knockwurst went into a dry cast iron skillet on low to tighten its casing and soften its fat.

Damn those are good. Maybe school isn’t so bad after all.

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 20, 2014 10:21 am

    Awesome meal, Daniel! And, an excellent education for young Master Fussy. :) Have you two ever tried the leberkase? Just fantastic, especially if it is warm from the oven. Schneller’s in Kingston and Smokehouse of the Catskills between Saugerties and Woodstock also carry tons of Eastern European goodies.

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