One of the best meals of my life took place in Germany, I shit you not. I was sitting at an outdoor restaurant alone in Heidelberg overlooking some river. Ah, the Neckar River (Wikipedia, you’re so helpful.) How did I get there? Why, I’m so glad you asked.
I’d been traveling alone for a week or so on my Eurail Pass after studying for the year in Madrid during college. An ill-fated meal in Belgium had my stomach churning the whole train ride to Amsterdam. Stop reading here, Dad.
When I finally arrived (longest train ride of my life), in my feverish delirium, I ended up at the sketchiest of hostels three paces from Amsterdam’s red-light district. My only requirement: a bathroom. The accommodations did manage to fulfill that request, but I should have specified “private” bathroom. Also, “clean” bathroom.
There were six beds to a room in this coed flophouse. So, after fashioning a crude chastity belt out of the contents of my backpack, I proceeded with my vomit/sleep/ vomit/sleep cycles until I found I pretty much had the room to myself. Except for one guy in the corner who never moved from his bed the whole time I was there. I think he died.
Anyway: Vomit: 12. Rapists: 0.
As soon as I was mobile, I flipped Amsterdam the bird, and caught the first train out of there. I woke up in Heidelberg.
So, I was at this restaurant that I don’t recall the name of, not having eaten in days, and feeling just a wee bit FAMISHED. I was sitting outside at one of their family-style picnic tables with a gigantic bear of a man, who was doing a bang-up job of ignoring me. The waitress dropped an enormous crock before him, overflowing with various chopped meats and sausages on top of a huge pile of sauerkraut. Actually, I didn’t see the sauerkraut until later. All I saw was the meat. So when the waitress came around to take my order, I said in my best German-accented English, I’ll have what he’s having.
When it arrived, nothing has ever smelled so good. I tried each meat, loving each one, but it was the sauerkraut that got me. Straw-colored, thinly shredded, and flecked with caraway seeds, it tasted NOTHING like any sauerkraut I’d ever had before. Or since. It was amazing. It became my own personal goal to eat at least as much of my meal as that gigantic man. (It seems I have a competitive streak.)
Long story short, he bested me. But, I’m quite sure that I enjoyed it more. The next day, I packed it in and went home. Yes, all the way home. It wasn’t going to get any better than that.