Monday, October 12, 2009

OMG! I Ate Some Meat!

Germans sure love their meat, to the point where even a vegetarian can start to get cravings for a piece of crisp juicy animal flesh. I’ve been a vegetarian for eleven years, and like most vegetarians, I’ve “cheated” from time to time. I should have known from the start that Berlin had it in for me, with its sausage stands and low prices and döner (kebab) vendors and supermarkets offering every kind of meat you could think of.
Alexander Platz was a particularly tempting place for a vegetarian like me. After hours of busking (performing by the street), a girl can work up quite an appetite. There are easily six bratwurst stands by the Alexander Platz U Bahn. Sausage, sausage everywhere and not a bite to eat! Until I totally caved. I couldn’t help it. One day I was so hungry and the sausages were sizzling on the grill and my friend was beside me, sinking his teeth into a perfectly crisp bratwurst. Man, that sausage was so good.
I told myself it wouldn’t happen again. It was just one sausage. A girl can cheat once in a while. It’ okay, right? Well, apparently not, because now I’m freaking addicted to bratwurst. It’s the best bang for my buck at a euro and twenty cents. And the bratwurst are all lined up, waiting to be munched. No lines to wait in. Fast, cheap, convenient, filling, and so damn delicious.
Bratwurst has been my only exception, though. Germans can get downright weird with their meat. I went to a dinner party and there were several jars on the table next to a plate of crackers. I thought that the jars contained maybe hummus or cheese or some kind of spread. Nope. It was meat in a jar! All kinds of strange, processed meats: blood sausage, liver, and god knows what else. It looked like cat food. And kind of smelled like it, too.
Now, some people don’t classify fish as meat, but most vegetarians do. If you add fish to your definition of meat, then the meat in Germany gets even stranger. Pickled herring on a bun? Germans love it. Fish burgers, fish filets, fish with the scales still on, you name it and you can find it, at least in Berlin. They even have fish bakeries.
There was a jar of herring in the fridge of the apartment we’re renting. My fiance, Wilson, had the brilliant idea of opening up the jar to sample its contents. He didn’t get that far, though, because after one whiff the lid was back on and the fridge was slammed shut.
Wilson didn’t warn me about the jar of herring, though. I only found out because he gave me a hug and I couldn’t believe how bad he smelled. He must have washed his hands a dozen times before the smell started to wear off. But our fridge still smells like fish whenever we open it up.
After the jar of herring experience, I feel like my bratwurst addiction is acceptable. Because hey, it could be a lot worse. I could be addicted to pickled herring instead.

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