Thursday, 30 July 2009

Spinach and Pureed Tomatoes

Today's essen was about as appetizing as baby food. A schmear of orange mashed potato-like tomato stuff, and a giant glob of gooey, soggy spinach. The taste was not bad, but let's just say I made a meal of my salad and split an order of pommes (french fries) with Priya.

Strangeness: 4/5
Deliciousness: 1/5

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

dinkel-patty and pasta

I learn more and more about Essen 2 every day. Yesteday I learned from Kevin, a guy in my lab, that Essen 2 is vegetarian every day except for Wednesday. On Wednesday, Essen 1 becomes vegetarian. So today, Wednesday, I present to you both Essen 1 and Essen 2.

Essen 1, which costs 2 euros, and is the meal I ate today, was farfalle pasta and a dinkel-patty, with a side salad and yogurt for dessert. I know from my breakfast cereal, dinkel flakes, that dinkel is bran. The bran-patty was made of carrots and potatoes, and coated in crispy little bran kernels. It was delightful! And my favorite part of today's meal. This meal was one of my favorites I've had in the mensa.

Strangeness: 3/5
Deliciousness: 5/5

Today, Essen 2 was a comically long bratwurst, and a noodle salad. The yellow splotch on the side is mustard (which is really tasty in Germany).

Strangeness: 2/5
Deliciousness: 3/5 (assumed)

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Crepes with Caramel Sauce

There are few things more exciting in my life than picking up an Essen 2 like this one, taking it to a table, and poking and prodding to see what is inside. (Feel free to judge me for this.) As you can see, they got the dip-to-things to dip ratio correct! These "egg pancakes" were filled with yogurt with bits of pineapple and coconut. Quite a treat! I love pineapple, but not so much coconut. Once my mom made a comment that coconut tastes like sunblock, and now that's all I can think about when I taste it. :)

Strangeness: 3/5
Deliciousness: 3/5

Monday, 27 July 2009

Tortellini with Vegetables

Oh Essen 2, what are you doing to me? Today's lunch was yuck. Bland tortellini with soggy reheated vegetables on top. You can do better, German lunch ladies!

Strangeness: 2/5
Deliciousness: 1/5

Friday, 24 July 2009

Roasted Potato Cakes and Dip with Salad

Today's lunch was fried to perfection. These hashbrown-like potato patties are different from the hashbrowns and applesauce that was served earlier -- those were more like McDonalds hashbrowns, which are delicious by the way. These, too, were super yummy. You may come to notice that the mensa serves dip and food to be dipped in a roughly 1 to 1 ratio. I was not a fan to today's sauce, which I don't know how to describe. The menu used words like 'potpourri,' so they don't seem to know, either. The salad was pretty standard with a mustard-y dressing. Overall, pretty great!

Strangeness: 3/5
Deliciousness: 4/5

Have a great weekend folks! I hope you'll come back and visit me next week.

Mushroom and Pepper Soup with a Roll

I should have known that the longevity of the strangeness streak wouldn't last. Today's (yesterday's, really) essen was pretty blasé. But I was impressed by the three colors of bell peppers.

The most interesting part of this meal was playing 'dodge the mushrooms,' a game at which I clearly dominate:

Strangeness: 1/5
Deliciousness: 2/5

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Farmer's Breakfast and a Pickle

It's a shame that today's Essen 2 was not vegetarian, because if there is something my diet is missing, it is a giant pickle. This was another meal that I translated the name because I wasn't sure what I should call it. Maybe an omlet? Or the inside of a breakfast burrito?

Instead I ate Essen 1, which was a German noodley thing with vegetables, salad, and chocolate pudding. But when I saw the long line for Essen 2 that persisted well into the lunch hour, I knew I still needed a picture. After all, my three readers are counting on me! After trying to be sneaky and take stalker-shots of people's meal, I ended up asking a guy, who had ordered two plates of Essen 2, if I could take a picture of his food. He replied enthusiastically "of course," and made no remark of how weird it was that a random American girl was taking pictures of people's lunches.

The pickle brings up the strangeness of this meal, and although I didn't taste it, I am giving it full marks for deliciousness because that line was LONG! And I saw several people with two plates, so it must have been good.

Strangeness: 3/5
Deliciousness: 5/5 (assumed)

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Sweet Temptations and Vanilla Sauce

This is what Essen 2 is all about, folks. Some days I'm not sure Essen 2 is even meant to be a meal. Technical difficulties prevent me uploading pictures at the moment, but allow me to describe today's lunch.

I had to use babelfish to translate the name of today's meal because I wasn't really sure what to call it. "Süße versuchungen," or sweet temptations look a lot like the small McGriddles pancakes. They have the approximate shape and size of a hockey puck, a dense texture, and raisins baked in throughout. The vanilla sauce was thick and warm, like a custard.

Strangeness: 3/5
Deliciousness: 4/5

Dear readers, I hope you don't mind if I supplement my lunch with a green salad, because I am beginning to feel the adult onset diabetes kick in.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Potato Balls and Creamy Sauce

This is the meal which inspired this blog. There have been strange meals in the past, but these potato balls are spectacular!

The week started off with spherical boiled potatoes and a lot of some creamy, cold sauce which tasted strongly of green onions. Maybe I was supposed to stir it all together into a potato salad?

Strangeness: 4/5
Deliciousness: 3/5

Essen 2

I stumbled upon Essen 2 innocently enough. I am an American student spending the summer at Universität Bremen, in Bremen, Germany. I don't speak German. On July 2, the first day of my summer fellowship, I went for lunch at the Mensa, the cafeteria on campus. I stood in the longest line I could find, which happened to be Essen 2. There are many lunch stations at the Mensa, including a salad bar, au gratin station, vegetarische, and Essen 1 and 2, which have different entrees everyday. That first day, when I got to the front of the line, I was given a margarhita pizza and a small salad.

Essen 2, I found out, is the cheapest meal at the Mensa. Every day it is just 1€ for a meal. (The other options are between 3 and 5 € .) It is usually vegetarian. But it wasn't until later that I discovered that Essen 2 is sometimes... unusual. Because I don't speak German, I can't read the posted menu. Lunch is a surprise every time. Essen 2 entrees I have witnesses and/or eaten:
  • pizza and salad
  • vegetable soup and pretzel bread
  • mashed potatoes and scrambled eggs
  • hash browns and applesauce
  • ham salad with a roll
  • ravioli with marinara sauce
Some days, lunch is fairly typical and unremarkable. Other days, it not only warrants remark, but a blog post. When I got my entree today, I knew I had to tell the world about the wondrous culinary inventiveness that is Essen 2. For my remaining six weeks in Bremen, I will get Essen 2 for lunch each day, and henceforth expand my palette to food combinations I never imagined possible.