I like this fellow Patrick Stäbler. He’s a journalist. He likes food. He’s adventurous. In these points we have a lot in common. However, his curiosity has taken him somewhere I haven’t been yet. Namely through Germany. Patrick, who is quite the gourmet, has realized that he eats Sushi more often than he does Schweinhaxe. So he goes on a journey to eat obscure regional dishes from each of Germany’s 16 states.
So to make the trip a whole lot more difficult and interesting, he decides to hitchhike to his destinations and crash at people’s apartments along the way. He wrote a blog, and found himself a publisher. The book, Speisende Soll Man Nicht Aufhalten, has a double meaning in German. You could translate it like I have in the title, or as “Do NOT Stop for a Hungry Man.” Then his trip became part of the Leipzig “Iss Was!?” exhibit, which is how I decided to stop by the gift shop to get the book.
In between bites of funny-sounding unheard-of specialties like Dibbelabbes or Schnüsch, he eats other, more popular regional specialties like Döner and Currywurst. And he meets a motley crew of people along the way, like the chic Russian nurse who commutes from Germany to Luxembourg, to the neo-Nazi who took him to Berlin.
The book is funny and well-written, I feel that he tries too hard at some places, but that is okay, since his earnestness is winning. Like most blog turned books, the book has a chronological narrative, and can seem boring at times, especially when he describes the days when he could not get anyone to pick him up.
It was strange to read Patrick rhapsodize about German dishes. Maybe it’s just Thuringia, but I do not experience a vielfalt of flavor when I eat German food. It has basically three different flavors: sweet, salty, and fatty. Maybe sour if you eat Sauerkraut or Sauerbraten. Let’s just say that while I like a good Braten, the taste palette is sehr begrenzt.
In general, I would recommend this book for people who want to prepare obscure German dishes (the recipes are in the book), for immigrants who want to learn more about Germany (provided that your German is at a B1-B2 Level), or for anybody who likes German food in general. I hope that it’ll be successful enough to warrant an English translation. And if you are ever in Berlin, the best Döner I’ve ever had was right across the road from the Zoobahnhof. Alas, I think it doesn’t exist anymore.