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Friday, May 12, 2006

Big Schnitzel Day

Lousy picture ... next time I'll remember to set a higher ISO value. And I didn't take a picture of my own because it was simply too big to hold and photograph. Such problems! But this is not a problem, this is an opportunity ... I get to go back next week in the name of journalistic integrity.

I set out earlier to get a Bratwurst, but when I got to town I realized it was Big Schnitzel Day ... Friday. Yes, I forgot it is Friday. I don't pay attention to these things any more, and would only have remembered if I had watched Boston Legal last night, but I only recorded it so that I could spend some time talking to the Partnerin to make up for being out too late with the "kids" from class the night before. This has become a weekly thing. Shame on me.

So Friday is the day for the Wochenmarkt at the Schiller Strasse. On many Fridays during my working life here, I and a few colleagues (two Americans and my Intern(s), but only one German ... all the others would only venture to the company cantine for lunch) would wander over to the Borse for the Big Schnitzel.

I originally wanted to call this post, "Inflation in Euro Land," but my own eyes were glazing over at the prospect of it. In the old days, pre-Teuro, you could get a decent Schnitzel Brotchen (a fried pork steak-like cut of meat on a roll, optionally swimming with Mustard) for roughly DM 4.50. In those days the Mark was pegged at 1.95583 for each Euro, so a Schnitzelbrotchen cost you roughly EUR 2.30.

When the currency changed over, Schnitzelbrotchen were on the market at EUR 2.50 ... OK, a little opportunism there, but it was worse in the Wurst market, which had gone from DM 3.00 to EUR 3.00 in some places. That was clearly a misreading of the price-elasticity-demand for Bratwurst, and the market settled back to EUR 2.50, where it has been stuck in most places for some time. The Schnitzelbrotchen market, on the other hand, has seen an increase in prices, first to EUR 3.00 a couple years ago, and then to EUR 3.50 a few weeks ago. These folks have discovered they do indeed have pricing power, while the poor Bratwurst vendors have learned that there are many more substitutes, like Schnitzel, for their wares. Gotta love economics.

I would also take the opportunity to pick up veggies and meats for the weekend. The Schnitzel vendor is also the meat vendor. Here you see him hacking away at a couple of Gekochte Ripchen (Translates to cooked ribs, which are pork with a sort of ham-like quality and taste. I love to grill them). I only bought two of the Rippchen, but to do that he had to go to the refrigerator-truck to get a new slab. He returned with that and cut off the not-so-good looking end (they call it scrap in US markets and it is typically thrown away even if it is edible).

Maybe he sensed my annoyance over inflation in the Schnitzel market, or maybe he was having a good day, because after he weighed the two I bought, he said "I'll throw this in for the taste!" Well, what he said was in German, but it was something like that. It was probably EUR 1.50 worth of meat that he could have taken home for dinner himself. Nice touch. So here is a gratuitous plug ... click on the picture to get a larger version. Go there. The meat is good.

And then to wander around and look at the veggies ... It is once again Spargel Season in Germany. Here are the Spargel ... White Asparagus hundreds of them. Germans are mad for the stuff ... I'm toying with writing a book called Spargel Madness. Spargel have even become the topic of political debate, with the Arbeitsagentur (roughly the Department of Labour) insisting that at least 10% of the laborers involved in the harvesting of the stuff be unemployed Germans ... the workforce is currently 100% Auslander.

Farmers complain that Germans won't take the work. Same lame argument as in the US ... Germans will take the work, but not at the paltry rates farmers will pay. I wonder if I would qualify as one of the 10% or if I would still be in the Auslander quota ... doesn't matter, I don't want to pick spargel for EUR 5.00 per hour. I'm not even sure they make that much. But the Partnerin is crazy for Spargel. Maybe I could work a couple hours in barter for the Spargel. It is roughly EUR 6 to 10 per kilo depending on what grade you buy and where you buy it. Hmmm.

Even the Brits get into the action at the Market.

And after all of that, a nice Caramel Frappucino.


Blogger Haddock said...

I saw a program on TV about the Spragel pickers and the 10% german workforce. Most of the German workforce in Hessen has been shipped in from east Germany.
I must confess I don't know what all the fuss is about spargel. A German once explained to me that it's very good for cleansing the system (whatever that really means!). I guess I will never know as Mrs H (who is German doesn't like spargel)
I'll have to get down to the Schiller Market one day. I've never been there :)

8:38 AM, May 13, 2006  
Blogger Maribeth said...

I love Spargel (German white or good old American green) and eat it all the time. (tonight in fact!)
And schnitzel is about my favorite thing on God's earth! Especially when it is done right. Perfect schnitzel was had by me in Vienna, in 1992. We were in Vienna on a layover and found this little place off the beaten track and even the memory evokes a heavy, happy sigh...

11:33 AM, May 13, 2006  

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