August 2, 2010
For the third leg of this month’s Inviting Writing road trip, we’ll follow reader Kevin Weeks‘ nose to the best bratwurst in Munich. These days, Kevin is a personal chef and cooking instructor in Knoxville, Tennessee, but once upon a time he was just a very hungry hitchhiker…
(If you’re new to Inviting Writing, read this.)
Bratwurst & Fries
By Kevin D. Weeks
There’s nothing in the world that will wake you up quite the way a Gauloises will. The nicotine punch is pretty fierce and the inevitable coughing fit will finish the job. Frankly, it’s not my favorite breakfast. But it was sunup, I was in a tent somewhere between Salzburg and Munich, there was no coffee, I’d run out of the English cigarettes I’d been smoking, and the two guys I was with were French.
This was in 1970 and I was 17, hitchhiking across Europe. The Frenchmen, not much older themselves, drove a funky little Renault and had picked me up outside Salzburg after the worst night of my life.
As usual, I’d arrived in Salzburg to find the youth hostel was full: the hostels were always full. To get out of the rain, I ended up in a building under construction, hiding from the night watchman. I had huddled on a cold and damp concrete floor while the temperature dipped to near freezing. The next morning I just wanted to get out of town.
It took a few hours, but then my luck changed and I found a good ride. The two young Frenchmen were also on their way to Munich. That evening we camped. They shared their food and tent with me and, the next morning, their cigarettes. Then we drove on to Munich, where they dropped me off.
The first thing I noticed was that something smelled delicious, and I was starving. I followed my nose to a kiosk selling bratwurst. I bought one, which came with a hard roll and a large dollop of mustard.
I don’t know if that was my first bratwurst ever, but it is certainly the first one I remember. I had never had such an extraordinarily good sausage in my life. I sat down on the curb dipping one end in the mustard and alternating with bites of the roll, juice rolling down my chin while I watched the traffic.
Then I wandered on, rubbernecking, until I came upon another kiosk. This one was selling French fries, so I bought an order of them. Again, it was an epiphany! I had never before eaten such delicious fries—golden and perfectly crisp on the outside, soft and tender inside.The fries I’d had in American joints couldn’t compare to these perfectly fresh, twice-fried potatoes.
I had many other such meals during my overseas adventure, but that bratwurst and those fries were my introduction to the wonders of European street food.
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