Monday, August 22, 2016

Being an Expat is a humbling experience...

Today I was laughed at by the deli counter clerk. That's right, the "trained chef" who supposedly is proficient in German totally messed it all up by the numbers. And the associate at the grocery store certainly didn't let me slide!

Toasted Ham Sandwich
with Onion Mayo Spread and Arugula Salad
I'm trying to tell myself this sort of thing comes with the territory of being an expat, particularly when you first move to your new host country. A learning experience, but none the less humbling! A healthy dose of humility is good for everyone though...fortunately this lifestyle isn't short on those types of experiences. Living in a foreign country isn't for sissies!

I found myself in this situation because tonight we're having a couple folks from work over and I thought I'd do a French inspired light meal....turkey sandwiches with an onion/mayo/cheese spread, cream of roasted tomato soup and arugula/lentil/radish salad.  One of my mom's go-to hors d'oeuvres recipe is her Onion Canapés, which I have made many times for my own guests and even prepared on-air for Good Morning Connecticut back in 2009. It's always a huge very simple, quick, but amazingly yummy. Kyle came up with the idea a while ago that I should make the deliciousness into a sandwich (brilliant!) but I hadn't gotten around to it until I tasted something very similar at Le Madeleine right before we left Virginia. So tonight's the night I'm trying it out as a sandwich, but naturally roasted turkey is just not something that's readily available in the deli counters around Germany. They've got any type of pork you want, but no turkey. Pork it is!

I found a beautiful looking piece of roasted meat in the case at my local supermarket, Rewe, and thought to myself, well, it looks like roasted pork loin to I quickly looked up pork loin in my English-->German iPhone app and quite confidently asked for the "gebratene Schweinelende, bitte" and all I got back was a look of confusion. Harumph. There goes the 30 weeks I spent learning German....we were reduced to pointing...and once she figured out what I wanted, she let out a hearty laugh and said something along the lines of "Wow, that sure would be a huge pork loin!"  Sigh. So much for my confidence...bring on the humility! I guess maybe she's never seen huge American pork loins...or at least that's what I'll tell myself. Turns out it was simply "Backschinken" or ham, but obviously herb-roasted ham. Next time I'll ask for the "Krauter gebratene Backschinken". I'll let you know how it goes....

If you want to give this meal a shot on your own, get some roasted turkey (not cold-cuts, the real stuff), thick cut ham, or use some leftover pork loin (try out this recipe one night, and use the leftovers for the sandwiches) and go to town!

Toasted Turkey/Ham Sandwiches with Onion Mayo Spread
Serves 4

1 onion, small dice
1 C mayonnaise
3/4 C finely grated mimolette cheese (or just use Parmigiano reggiano, parmesano, aged asiago or Grano padano cheese)
1-2 baguettes, cut cross-wise into 4-5 inch lengths or 1 boule crusty bread, sliced (at least 8 slices)
1 green apple, thinly sliced (optional)
4-8 slices of roasted turkey, ham, or pork loin (sliced to your liking, but not too thin)

Mix onion, mayonnaise and cheese together well. Spread a generous amount on each slice of bread (but not all the way to the edges to allow for spreading) and toast in the oven at 400 degrees F until starting to brown and bubble, about 10 minutes. Heat slices of meat in oven for the last five minutes or so, just to warm up. Assemble sandwiches with two slices of bread with spread, sliced apples (if using) and your meat. Cut diagonally and serve immediately with soup and/or salad (or both!).

My favorite Roasted Cream of Tomato Soup recipe is from Cook's Illustrated. Just click on the link to find it if you're a subscriber, or Google it.

To make my arugula salad, I just toss arugula and perhaps some romaine or red leaf lettuce together, and top with tomatoes, cooked French lentils, quartered radishes a nice Dijon vinaigrette. Yum!

Bon appetít!

Here's a more German way to use up those thick slices of ham...Brötchen mit Backschinken und Sauerkraut...