Cider with Penny

October 16, 2007

Weingut, ciderbesser

Edited highlights of Aachen for more… read the full version on my other blog.

And so, would I recommend Germany to other cider-loving vegetarians? Rather than simply “getting by” in a carnivorous country, I discovered that Germany has rather a lot to offer, particularly in May when the fields are splashed with strawberries, when the bakeries offer a delicious variety of cakes and breads including my favourite — to eat not to order — sonnenblumenkernbrot, and when the asparagus, or spargel as Germans call it, begins to be harvested. German asparagus is quite unlike ours. It’s white, slightly stringy but soft and with a texture almost more like a fruit than a vegetable. It is often served with just butter or potatoes, and many glasses of wine. The Rhineland produces some of the most exquisite wine I’ve ever tasted, from the raucous Weinstube taverns of Mainz to the gentle Weingut dotted in the fields around Trier.

And Germany harbours a dark, ciderous secret known as Apfelwein or Viez. It’s not on the menu, it arrives in big ceramic tankers, and it’s pronounced feets — possibly because it’s a mean feat to finish a glass, or perhaps just because it smells a bit like well-worn socks. I first discovered it in an al fresco restaurant on the banks of the Rhine in Trier, while eating some freshly caught fish.

Half-way through the tankard, it occurred to me that a) Viez is
stronger than ordinary cider and b) I was sufficiently tipsy to fancy a
trip to a nearby rock festival. Three Viez, five euros and ten minutes
later I arrived at Rock Total, which can only be described as the
Glastonbury festival’s long-lost poverty stricken cousin. Amid the
sticky tables, beer-soaked grass and everso cheery Germans — “Ja,
I want to be a Rock Star! Neine, Ich bin eine Rock Star!” — I was left
pondering gently if Charlemagne ever spilt Viez on his throne.


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