Saturday, July 4, 2009

Food adventures in Dusseldorf

Often on the road, my hosting dinner companions will exclaim: "You cannot stay on program tonight! You must try our regional speciality!" Friends often exhort in a very similar manner: "Tonight is special! Eat some real food!" This would be fine other than the fact that I hear these words no less than once per week. If you fall to this kind of peer pressure only once per week, it's really not a big deal. Just don't fall for it at every meal.

When it comes to being tempted by regional cuisine, one has to be particularly willing to be a good sport. So, I was out in Dusseldorf with my German colleagues, and we went to a very old, and famous Dusseldorf restaurant just off the Rhine River. It was a beautiful old place, and we had a very nice table outside.

They did not have an English version of the menu, so I had to feebly ask for help finding something reasonably on-program. My friends were having none of that, and they encouraged me to try something called Dusseldorfer Senfrostbraten. Huh? Basically, it's beef with a thick mustard sauce. Pretty much everyone got the same dish, so at least they were in the foxhole with me.

The dish arrived in all of its splendor. As you can see from the photo, the beef was thick. The sauce was thick. And the potatoes were glistening with the oil in which they were sauteed. They claimed that the sauce on the beef was mustard (great POINTS value) and breadcrumbs (maybe not totally great) (personally, I had a hard time believing there was not a cream somewhere in the mix, but why quibble). What's a nice young man on program to do? The answer: eat it, enjoy it (I did), but not feel compelled to lick the plate clean. In fact, I had about 2/3 of it, and placed my napkin on the plate, and was happy, content and unstuffed. I also worked out the next morning.

It all works.

As a postscript, we were attacked by a mass of small green flies at dinner that got progressively worse. At one point, the entire city was thick with flies to the point where you could barely see. The next day, they were all gone. Is it possible my colleagues and hosting city were being punished for subverting my adherence to being on program?

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