When I am not aspiring to be a fake Englishman, I aspire to be a fake Austrian. I am helped in this fantasy by Aldi’s expansion in the United States. Aldi primarily markets itself in the U.S. as a cheaper alternative to major grocery chains. However, because it is a German company, it imports a lot of European goods. This makes a Europhile like me giddy.
So let’s say that one day, I get a craving for a Käsekrainer. I’ve included a photo of one I ate earlier. It is a sausage stuffed with Emmentaler cheese that is widely found at Würstelstands around Vienna. Apparently, it is often referred to by locals as “Eitrige,” which roughly translates as “pus-filled.” This is because the cheese oozes out when the sausage is cut.
Anyway, if my craving hits during the Octoberfest or Christmas seasons, then the odds are good that Aldi will have stocked up on all sorts of German sausages, including a cheese-filled bratwurst. But what if it is the first weekend in June and I’ve already eaten the supply of cheese-filled bratwursts I had stashed in my freezer from Christmastime?
Then the first items on my Aldi shopping list are Emmentaler cheese and Kaiser rolls. If I’m lucky, it will also have Nathan’s hot dogs available. If not, I can head over to Costco and buy some Kirkland hot dogs, which have a similarly savory and spicy flavor. Rather than try to stuff the hot dogs with cheese, I grill them and chop them up. Then I serve them with chunks of Emmentaler, a lightly toasted Kaiser roll, and dollops of Dijon mustard and ketchup.
Okay, so it misses out in the oozing cheese area and lacks a lot of authenticity. But I am looking more for a simulation of reality here.
What to drink with this? Well, beer, obviously. If I were in Vienna, I would probably get an Ottakringer Helles. Helles is a Bavarian style lager popular in Austria. It is a bit sweeter, wheatier and maltier than a Pilsner.
It’s not easy to find Austrian beer in the U.S. As far as I can tell Stiegl is the only Austrian brewery that exports to the States, although that might just be because their grapefruit radler has turned out to be successful.
Instead, I will grab something from a local Maryland brewery. RavenBeer’s Pendulum Pilsner reminds me a lot of Helles-style lagers. It’s sweet and malty and light enough to hold up to all the fatty food I’m shoving down my gullet.
Also, it seems fitting to drink a beer named after “The Pit and the Pendulum” while eating a fake Käsekrainer. What cuts open a festering pus finger better than a pendulum?