While we have plenty of Subways and Quiznos here, there are many, really excellent sandwich shops in Lancaster County PA.
THIS is one of the best delicatessens in Lancaster County, and like Auntie Anne's Pretzels, it started off as one shop and now there are 20 in Central PA, alone. Auntie Anne went from one pretzel stand to 500 before selling her franchise. Now, there are nearly 1000 stores all over the world. But I bore you all, I see. The point is this: German meats, breads, condiments, and variants of German food are all quintessentially American and almost universally loved. If it weren't for German immigrants, no one would know about the fantastic fare that is German. So, here it is.
The Sandwich Nazi story: "No Sandwich for YOU!"
Recently, a man from Germany opened an 'authentic' German restaurant. I was eager to go there and eat any and everything on the menu. The cafe that had been there before was called LUNCH, and that is all they served. But what a lunch! The most spectacular sandwiches and home made soups. The joint was always crowded and the desserts were home made and exquisite. I so wanted to work there. But one day, it up and closed. Death in the family had ended the business, and for about a year it stood empty.
Then, one day, a sign goes up for his restaurant, an "Authentic" German restaurant and bakery. YAY! All the sudden, visions of Wiener Schnitzel and sausages and sauerkraut and cheeses and home made German breads and...well..nom, nom, nom were going through my head. So a couple of days ago, I decided to get my husband something for lunch there, and expecting a lot of people, I went in, and there was nobody. Not a hostess, a waitress, and as far as I could see, no chefs or line cooks. I looked at the white board for something to order, and a list of baked goods was all that was displayed. Yet, no baked goods could be seen, but for a lonely cherry-laden pastry on a plate in a glass shelf. There was nothing. No smell. Nothing.
I called back to see if anyone was there, and a rather flustered young man appeared and asked what I would like. I asked to see a menu and he handed me a single sheet of paper with the items listed on front and back. Under the Lunch category the only item was 3 potato pancakes with applesauce. Yep. 3 potato pancakes with applesauce. For 5 bucks.
I asked him if he had anything else,and he had some lentil soup or cabbage stew. On the reverse side of his menu was the dinner listing. Sauerbraten or Wienerschnitzel, and if you want the Sauerbraten, you have to order it for at least 4 people....10 days in advance. When I asked him if he sold sandwiches, he becamen irritated and said.
"NO. No sandwiches. Germans don't eat sandwiches." Really?" I asked, surprised, "You mean, you don't eat sausages in buns? NEIN, das is nicht a sandwich!"
"Or a Reuben on rye?"
"NEIN. Germans don't eat sandwiches, he said...and he was almost angry by this time.
I settled on the cabbage stew with bits of meat in it for a whopping 8 bucks. It was served in an 8 oz. container. I asked if the stew came with some bread, and he put in a home made roll that smelled good....but the proof is in the eating.
The cabbage was mush, the meat, inconsequential, even if you could tell what it was. There were no baked goods in the display cabinets...he was just starting his baking at 11 am, apparently. The Wienerschnitzel needed 2 days advance notice, and the sauerbraten needed 10!
Needless to say, his restaurant is empty, he is bitter, and the food was horrid. The roll was so hard that I worried about breaking my teeth on it. I'm thinking, maybe, just maybe, there is such a thing as East German cuisine, and this restaurateur is a member of the crack Stasi culinary squad. I had to seriously squash the desire to ask him: