Friday, June 23, 2017

NATO - Part III, Essen und Trinken

 The Humble Brötchen (Source)
I cannot think of my NATO assignment without remembering the gustatory delights of wonderful Deutschland. Which vary from region to region, so I can only speak for Nordrhein-Westfalen, which is where we lived. But the beer, the wine, the pork, the sandwiches...

Eh, sandwiches?

Well, in the Rheinland a belegtes Brötchen is when you take one of those delicious rolls and put stuff on it, a belegtes Brötchen translates to "occupied little bread." In reality Brötchen is the word used by Rhinelanders to describe a bread roll, other regions of Germany have different terms for it. (And that's something I just learned.)

Now in the comments the other day one of my old comrades-in-arms mentioned the Brötchen Bar in our wing. For a nominal fee, you got your Brötchen, you spilt it, buttered it up, then applied cold cuts and cheese. And that was breakfast for me during the week for seven plus years. The bread rolls were delicious, the cheese was superb, and the cold cuts sublime. I am almost drooling as I write this. Check that, I am drooling.

So that was breakfast. Around 1000, the Germans introduced me to something else which at the time they said most of the other Amis didn't care for - espresso. We had out very own wing espresso machine, not a cheap one either. So belegtes Brötchen for breakfast, then espresso at 1000. Most excellent.

Now for lunch I'd wander up to what was called the NATEX, which was the NATO Exchange, which in reality was the Canadian Exchange, what the military folks in the Great White Up would call the CANEX. (Which we humble Yanks call, variously, the Post/Base Exchange, PX/BX or the Navy Exchange, depending on what service you're in. Note that the PX/BX are the same outfit whereas the Navy Exchange is a different organization. I know, it can be confusing.) Before I forget, the NATEX had two shops on base, one for clothing, jewelry and the like, the other for food.

Anyhoo, for lunch I hit the NATEX (the food one of course) to get my ready-cooked, garlic-roasted bratwurst. Two to a package which I would take back to my office and eat with a healthy portion of Löwen-Senf, literally "lion mustard," this stuff -


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And yes, make mine Extra scharf - extra sharp. Rather spicy! The first time I tried that on my bratwurst, one of my German colleagues thought I had used rather too much, warning me that it was "very hot." I assured him I would be fine. Later on that year he tried kimchi and then understood why I relished that German mustard. (Yes, that's me trying to be punny.)

Another favorite of mine was schnitzel. Now, like many northeastern Americans, all I knew of schnitzel was what I got from Hogan's Heroes. Which, you might gather, wasn't a lot. Now Wienerschnitzel was about all I knew. That type of schnitzel is a breaded veal cutlet which came from Vienna (Wien) originally. I don't care for that at all. Your more traditional German schnitzel is technically called Schweineschnitzel, which is a breaded pork cutlet. Now in both types the meat is pounded to tenderize it. The beauty of schnitzel is not in the meat itself but what you put on top of it.

My favorites were schnitzel mit champignon (schnitzel with mushrooms), Zigeunerschnitzel (Gypsy schnitzel which has a tomato based sauce with spices, primarily paprika), and Jägerschnitzel (Hunter schnitzel, another one topped with mushrooms but in a brown gravy). All three are most delicious and are best eaten with one (or more) of these -

(Source)
Bitburger is a most delightful pilsner beer brewed in Bitburg, Germany. Which wasn't all that far from where we lived. (Okay, it was two hours and you had to drive through the Netherlands and Belgium to get there via the fastest route. But it takes you through the Ardennes, lovely country that.)

Of course, I also liked this one -

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And this one -
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It's Dutch, but the Nederlanders make an excellent brew. Seems we always had this one after our softball games (if you struck out, you owed the team a case at the next game). I got a kick out of the porcelain bottle caps, yes, I said porcelain. And for fun, plug "Grolsch" into Google Translate, which you'll have to tell it that it's Dutch, and hit the speaker button. The Dutch really make a show out of the letter "G." You'll see. Or rather hear.

So let me see, Brötchen, schnitzel, beer, bratwurst...

What else, what else? Ah yes, the frites! Which is the French word for "fries," as in French fries. The Germans called them that as well. One thing The Missus Herself learned was never order "French fries" in Belgium. Dude was quite irate, claiming he only sold "Belgian fries." Oddly enough, that was at a food stand at the battlefield of Waterloo. Which I visited once or twice. (And not every damn year as The Missus Herself claims, there were a couple of years she didn't go. Out of seven...)

To truly enjoy frites gotta have 'em with a sauce of some sort. Mayo is liked by some, but there are others. Most Belgian food vendors had a variety of sauces. All of 'em pretty tasty. Not that I tried all of them. Most? Maybe?

As I was poking around for other memories of Germany, I "stumbled" across a post I wrote back in January of 2016, titled, appropriately enough, Speaking of Wine. Which was another tale of NATO in the waning years of the 20th Century. Sadly enough, one of the "crying Scots ladies" in that post, a very dear friend and wonderful person has passed on since I wrote that post. Here's to you Marion, I'll never forget you, you were a fine lass.

One last thing, something which a bear pointed out, um, okay "a bear," which is his nom de web I guess you'd say...

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NATO, of course, stands for North Atlantic Treaty Organization, whereas OTAN, it's mirror image, is the French version, Organisation du Traité de l'Atlantique Nord, and yes, French has a few extra words in it, but ODTDLN just looks wrong. Doesn't it?

Um, where do you see NATO/OTAN Sarge? (The first post in the series, but here's another photo.)


Though it's late, as I write this, not, perhaps, as you read it, I am sore tempted to go find me some brats and beer. I am feeling a mite peckish all of a sudden. While I do that, watch this refueling video, that's one of our NATO birds.



I'll bet that a few flight suits (on both aircraft) needed laundering after that little episode. (Wouldn't be surprised if that pilot lost his air refueling qual as well!)

(Note, although the video title refers to that jet as an E-8 AWACS, um no, it's an E-3A. I spent over seven years around those big jets, almost as many as I spent around the Phantom, so I guess I'd know.)





With a tip of the hat to my old comrade-in-arms Bob. Bill, another old AF sarge, also chimed in with his memories of the Brötchen Bar. Two of the good old boys from GK.

42 comments:

  1. Another fine post, Sarge!
    I've only been to Germany twice, but both times I remember loving the breakfast you described. I've never seen it successfully duplicated elsewhere.
    As for your selection of beers, when we owned our wine tasting room, we also had a wide selection of beers (for the gentlemen who accompanied the ladies tasting our wines), all three were available as well as about a hundred other offerings. The best of which, IMHO, was Rare Vos from Brewery Ommergang in Cooperstown NY. That was my beer of choice as we closed down the store in the evenings.

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    1. We have tried to duplicate the German breakfast, with no success. Have to be in Germany.

      That beer looks good, the Belgians mke some excellent beers.

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  2. Stationed in Hesse, the big brand locally was Henninger-Brau. In Hanau and Frankfurt there were many wurst stands. For a little over a mark, you got a wurst, small roll and a dab of hot mustard on a small paper plate. Always served with a Henninger flipper top. No tables - you ate it standing up. Loved those curry wursts.

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  3. Frits and American sauce or mushroom ketchup, umm, good.

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    1. Mushroom ketchup? Sounds delicious!

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  4. Plus, Otan sounds like the name of an angry frost giant.

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    1. When I was stationed in the UK (69-71) in F-4s the French had long pulled out of NATO--wouldn't even give us overfly rights when we used to rotate to Incirlik to sit nuke alert--had to go the long way round over Spain from our base north of London. "OTAN" indeed..

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    2. Four "nations" fly the E-3: USA, UK, France, and NATO. Boeing does the software for the onboard computer, well, they did in my day, and would have operators from each force go through their facility in Washington state back in the day.

      When the USA would visit, big party at the end. When the UK would visit, big party at the end. When NATO would visit, big party at the end. When the French visited -

      "Bye now. Have a safe flight home."

      Yup, no party. The two official languages of NATO are French and English. That's the only part of NATO the French liked.

      More like "OTAN" my ass. (But that's just me...)

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  5. OldAFSarge,

    You bring back memories for me. My favorite beer was Heiniger Kaiser Pilsner Privat brewed right there in beautiful Frankfurt-am-Main. As a bachelor officer I had to live off base. On the ground floor of my apartment building there was a small restaurant that was the front end for a bowling alley (German) in the basement. They had a great schnitzel. I was there quite often when I just didn't feel like cooking. And the beer there was just right.

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    1. I loved the small local pubs and restaurants in our area. Excellent food and the beer was, as you say, always just right.

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  6. My favorite beer was the one I was drinking.
    I've yet to make it that far across the pond somy only gustatory experience with the foods of German persuasion havebeen here in the states.
    Unfortunately two of my three favorite restaurants have shut down and the third is in Boston.

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    1. I have always been partial to Freibier.

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  7. That was quite a burble by the E3-A. Looked to me like the boom operator either saw, or felt it coming and reacted. But that was close enough to hit max torque on the pucker string.

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  8. I have some great memories of Germany. Port calls and TAD only though, and I wish I'd been able to experience living there for a while. I remember a hole-in-the-wall place in Wilhelmshaven where my attempts at operating the phrasebook were met with delight and unlocked the doors to some of the most delicious meals I've ever enjoyed.

    So Grolsch is pronounced slosh?

    I'm no expert but it looks like the boom tip got bent on that tanker. Score that a mission kill for the frost giant. I wonder if the rotodome contributed to that pitch up.

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    1. Your computer has trouble with Dutch maybe? The G in Grolsch is pronounced rather like an H while clearing one's throat. No, seriously. The rest of it is pronounced "rolsch" as one might expect.

      I now picture you roaming the prairie trying to get that Dutch G sound out. A fantastically funny sight in my mind!

      I think the pilot of the AWACS got spooked. No doubt the rotodome imparts some odd flight characteristics to the E-3!

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    2. It's not my computer, it's my ear-brain interface. Sounds like a girl who's been drinking a lot of Grolsch is trying to say slosh. My kinda girl!

      Off to the prairie to practice!

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    3. Video or it didn't happen...

      :D

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    4. Textbook case of PIO-Pilot Induced Oscillation. As he's coming into the contact position there was a small nose down movement. Whomever was at the controls made too large of a correction, so the plane pitched up further than necessary as the boomer sticks him. The pilot then made too large of a downward correction so the plane pitched down further than necessary. Another too large correction and pitched up at which time flight suits were soiled and the crew in the back got to experience zero g's effect on their coffee as the instructor pilot maneuvers to avoid a midair.

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    5. Yeah, when "porpoising" put controls in neutral--you'll never catch up otherwise--only make things worse..

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  9. The only time I had the "privilege" of a "view" like that was when I was in AFROTC summer camp at Lockbourne AFB, A SAC KC-135/C-130 base in Dayton, OH in the summer of 1965. Some of us were given a "ride" in a 135 to refuel a 52 (can't remember the model #) over Presque Isle Maine. Talk about a beautiful sight lying there next to the boomer with an emerald isle in a sea of cobalt blue below! Can't imagine what color my flt suit--well yes I can--would have ended up being if our BUFF had hit the same burble!
    :)

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  10. Even their "ordinary" sandwich bread was delicious - think and flavorful. And the cheeses!

    I got my nickname of Bratwurst at my last station - a NATO radar bunker at Borfink - even the Germans didn't know where this was - if it were in the middle of a triangle you would have Bernkastel on the Mosel, Trier, and Baumholder.

    I preferred the German snack bar - Bratwurst mit senf (mustard).

    Of course in any town or city you had the schell imbiss trailers - quick snack stands - with Bratwurst - red (my preferance) or white -
    (naturlich), pomme frites (frinch fries), beer...It is all I ever needed.

    Oh, the schnitzel -

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    1. And henceforth and forever more, in these spaces, shall ye be known as "Bratwurst." As fine a callsign as any, in my book anyway.

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  11. My mouth actually watered at the thought of the mustard kimchee comparison. Wonderful stuff - both. Beer, well who doesn't like beer? My son the cop is now becoming addicted to some locally owned brewery that age dates its product. We drink it when its only a few days old. OH dear ours is ten days old today. We'd better get partying. AND 16 ounces! No where but the Monterey Bay.

    As for PIOs well everyone has probably done it. Just better if you don't do it like that guy did. When we first got the Phantoms in '65, we had a problem with PIOs on nuke runs. THe one where you go like crazy way down low and then pull up and toss the blivot over a mountain or something. The airplane needed a pitch dampener in the worse way. They finally retrofitted them, I believe the with was on the left, under the throttle quadrant. How's that for trivia?

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  12. Thanks for the post; both it and the comments are, as usual, very entertaining and informative.

    Paul L. Quandt

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  13. And they get REALLY ticked when you call the Schnitzel chicken fried steak... Trust me... Sigh

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  14. Kimchee you guys? Y'all really like that stuff? Yee Gods!!! When I was a FAC out of DaNang following my F-4 tour one of my roomies at the "FAC House" downtown @ 31 Phan Boi Chou was a Captain transferred up from II Corps where he had been a ground FAC out in the field with the ROK White Horse Inf Div. "You haven't lived until you've smelled kimchee which has been curdling all day in 120 degree heat" he would say.

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    1. My wife is Korean Virgil. Of course I like kimchi, though it is something of an acquired taste. (Four years in Korea helped.)

      My brother-in-law was in the Tiger Division, did a tour in Vietnam.

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  15. I can remember getting a shave most mornings whilst "protecting" the huns and their blivots as they lay low in OsanAB. The whole barber shop was filled with the aroma of kimchee and the conversations - up close with the barber - something to write your congressman about.

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    1. Kimchi is like Limburger cheese. Not known for their aroma.

      (FWIW, I enjoy a bit of Limburger now and again. I just stay downwind of others!)

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  16. With NATO eastward expansion, Polish ciuyisine is new addition.
    We have great variety of bread, from dark rye wheat one thru various mixed grains to whit ewheat bułeczki , equivalent of broetchen...
    And then there are pierogi, dumplings by other name with multitude of fillings.
    And multitude of soups. And sausages a plenty.
    And vodka to toast for freedom :)

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    1. We had a large Polish community where I grew up, Polish cuisine is excellent!

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  17. Never had one myself, but basket slaps weren't uncommon. One of the better photographers in the S-3 Viking community, whose pics I've shared here before, had a slap that shattered the canopy. He flew a T-Top to an OK underline.

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    1. A basket slap? I know what that is, seen a couple in refueling footage. Doesn't sound, nor look, like fun!

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