Adventures of a Bookish Foodie: AUTUMN & the Annual Schlacht
|Photo Credit: www.mcall.com|
But for me there’s something else: something not forgotten, but no longer practiced because it is culturally specific, based on a country that no longer exists, spurred along by people no longer living.
Can this intro form part of a foodie blog? You better believe it! For that thing I pine for, that singular thing that meant AUTUMN to me when I was a child was none other than the annual Schlacht.
WARNING: SOME CONTENT MAY SEEM STRANGE
Schlact? What’s that? Well, gentle reader, it’s complicated. Schlacht is a German word that literally means ‘battle’. But to a family of Danube Swabians, it meant quite another. Danube Swabians once formed a colorful community in a part of the former Yugoslavia that covered sections of modern day Serbia and Croatia. German speaking (sort of), these one-time settlers busied themselves with farming operations both small and large, while maintaining vibrant little village (town) main streets that featured the usual butcher, baker, and candlestick maker.
After the Second World War, many Danube Swabians relocated to parts of Western Europe and North America. My crew came to Toronto, Canada, bringing with them feather beds, pots and pans, an unusual dialect that few Germans could understand, and a recipe for bratwurst that could challenge Johnsonville Brats for sausage supremacy…ON A WORLD SCALE.
Schlacht to them, did not mean ‘battle’ but a machine-like operation that saw fine ground pork reduced to a culinary masterpiece that polemics could not decry; in other words: a seasoned dialectic contained gorgeously in brine soaked intestines (you thought sausage casings came from the store?) hung up to cure and dry all in the sanctity of grandma’s basement.
Sausage making, like most things these days, need not be carried out at home. It’s far easier to just jump in the car and pick up a pack from the grocery store. Right? But that wasn’t the point behind the Schlacht. In the 1970s everybody was struggling. There was no internet, no reality television and not a lot of money for highbrow-lowbrow entertainments. Gathering the family every fall to make sausage was something like Christmas, and for a little ethnic kid looking forward to Hallowe’en, what could be better than stirring up the contents of a giant cauldron on Oma’s basement kitchen stove? While dad ground the freshly carved meat, Oma parsed out the secret seasonings that would keep her brats moist while maintaining a rich red color through the drying and smoking process.
I will never forget my ten year old self stress-working the bratwurst press, an ancient gizmo hauled over on the boat. Barrel like, it held about ten gallons of meat at a time, all to be pressed into brine soaked casings (see above) by means of a hand crank that forced the contents into their proper place through a long, narrow stainless steel tube. The PSI behind this operation must have been staggering, as only my dad and older brother were strong enough to operate the crank.
The task of getting the meat into the casing evenly (without air bubbles) and then twisting them at the right moment into perfectly equal-sized links fell to me and Oma. Try catching ground pork out of a wurst press under high pressure. I dare you to!
Dad and Oma are gone along with the aunts and uncles who joined in on the annual Schlachterei. But the memories are vivid. Every now and then, my brother will make a small batch – his cask select if you will. I, too, make it, but without stomach casings and large cauldrons.
I don’t know if dad would approve of this Dude method of sausage making—I do them up in the fry pan without casings-- but I’m sure he’d smile at the effort.
The Schlacht is the tradition, and keeping the tradition alive is the battle.
Have a great autumn, everyone.
Adult, unapologetic and cognizant, I am
This is a tough share for me, in that my grandmother always left out at least one or two ingredients so that no one else’s wurst would match hers. To honor her, I present the modified recipe. Modification is also a tradition:
25 lbs ground pork
1.5 cups of paprika mixed with REAL beer to make it nice and pasty (this is a visual thing people)
.5 cup of salt
.3 cup of pepper
7 cloves of garlic smooshed und chopped
15 shakes of cayenne
Pinch of sugar
1 bottle of beer and balance water equal to 2 cups of liquid
Mix in a big ol’ bowl with bare, well-washed hands, and load up the wurst press.
I don’t have the brine recipe anymore for raw sausage casings. Don’t need them. Cured casings can be purchased at many large grocery stores and butcher shops.
Find me and my varied interests at:
Heuer Lost And Found
A. B. Funkhauser
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Fiction,
Metaphysical, Paranormal, Dark Humor
Publisher: Solstice Publishing
Date of Publication: April 23, 2015
Number of pages: 237
Word Count: 66,235
Formats available: Electronic, Paper Back
Cover Artist: Michelle Crocker
ISBN/EAN13: 1625262043 / 9781625262042
Unrepentant cooze hound lawyer Jürgen Heuer dies suddenly and unexpectedly in his litter-strewn home. Undiscovered, he rages against God, Nazis, deep fryers and analogous women who disappoint him.
At last found, he is delivered to Weibigand Brothers Funeral Home, a ramshackle establishment peopled with above average eccentrics, including boozy Enid, a former girl friend with serious denial issues. With her help and the help of a wise cracking spirit guide, Heuer will try to move on to the next plane. But before he can do this, he must endure an inept embalming, feral whispers, and Enid’s flawed recollections of their murky past.
Is it really worth it?
“Heuer” as in “lawyer”: Heuer the Lawyer
Jürgen Heuer did many things in his lifetime, but murdering another human being was not among them. Of course he considered it at times—having Fuhrer blood in his veins practically demanded it—but logic always trumped emotion and that was what kept him from breaking the law this time. Standing over enough explosives to level a half block, he replaced the matches in the pocket of his pimp suit, leaving Werner to curse and mutter at the 61 Division cops who had better things to do than visit the hermit house a second time.
Irmtraut, understandably, was not impressed when he appeared before her to explain. “Since our first meeting, you have forced an angina attack on your neighbor, preyed on the wits of the only person who loves you, and wreaked havoc at the office juice bar.”
“That, I can explain—” he interjected, relishing, somewhat guiltily, all the drama he’d created. “I merely sought to dispatch any papers incriminating to me. Instead, I found a bunch of tawdry shits besmirching my name.” He flapped his arms chicken-like. “They decided I was peculiar and with all these rainbow flags going up over town, they were making allegations.” He was not gay. He was nothing at all. Why did everybody insist on assigning labels? He was dead. It didn’t matter. And he hadn’t meant to set all the juice-o machines to malfunction in tandem, nor had he intended for Miss Samantha to go ass over heel and break an arm.
Irmtraut laughed at his childish protests, suggesting that he busy himself with the World Cup soccer scores. “Germany is leading, and the betting octopus is expected to weigh against the Spaniards.”
He scoffed at the suggestion; a German victory was a foregone conclusion. “Why waste time on a sure thing?”
“Indeed?” Irmtraut said. “Let’s look at something unsure then—your peccadillos, for example.”
“My what?” He was not familiar with the term ‘peccadillos.’
Irmtraut wiggled her ponderous mid-section to an unheard smoky beat.
“Oh, that,” he recalled, cringing over his play at self-release.
“Yes,” she said. “When you thought I was sleeping, only I wasn’t.”
He would gladly discuss the arsenal in the basement, the strange paste covering his bedroom walls, or his intriguing disdain for the prodigal father. What was not up for examination was his
wandering hands and the miracles they accomplished.
“You will not do that again,” she commanded.
About the Author:
A.B. Funkhauser is a funeral director, classic car nut and wildlife enthusiast living in Ontario, Canada. Like most funeral directors, she is governed by a strong sense of altruism fueled by the belief that life chooses us and we not it. Her debut novel, HEUER LOST AND FOUND, released in April 2015 after five years of studious effort, has inspired four other full length works and over a dozen short stories. Her sophomore effort, SCOOTER NATION, is in edits for a 2016 release.
Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-C5qBpb0Yc
Interview Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2yhaXfh-ns
Interview Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoPthI1Hvmo
Geo Buy Link: http://myBook.to/heuerlostandfound
“The macabre black comedy Heuer Lost And Found, written by A.B. Funkhauser, is definitely a different sort of book! You will enjoy this book with its mixture of horror and humour.”
—Diana Harrison, Author ALWAYS AND FOREVER
“This beautifully written, quirky, sad, but also often humorous story of Heuer and Enid gives us a glimpse into the fascinating, closed world of the funeral director.”
—Yvonne Hess, Charter Member, The Brooklin 7
“The book runs the gamut of emotions. One minute you want to cry for the characters, the next you are uncontrollably laughing out loud, and your husband is looking at you like you lost your mind, at least mine did.”
“The writing style is racy with no words wasted.”
—David K. Bryant, Author TREAD CAREFULLY ON THE SEA
“For a story centered around death, it is full of life.”
—Rocky Rochford, Author RISE OF ELOHIM CHRONICLES
“Like Breaking Bad’s Walter White, Heuer is not a likeable man, but I somehow found myself rooting for him. A strange, complicated character.”
—Kasey Balko, Pickering, Ontario
Raw, clever, organic, intriguing and morbid at the same … breathing life and laughter into a world of death.
—Josie Montano, Author VEILED SECRETS