We frequented other Gasthäuser in the vicinity of Hans' house, where we would have an evening meal and a good discussion with the Wirt and Wirtin (owners). As we made at least 13 trips to the area over the years, we had gotten to know them quite well. One of them had attended the same school as Hans had. Herr Holfeld had remained in East Germany, became an engineer in East Berlin and then returned to his Heimat (home) 30 years later to open up a Gasthaus in Ringenwalde. We had many discussions with him over the years.
Another Gasthaus, Alt Grimnitz, was just on the edge of Hans' hometown of Joachimstal, about three kilometers from his house. The owner, Herr Bockisch, loved folk music and told us that during the Communist era the beloved West German folk singer, Heino, was banned. Shortly after the Wall fell but reunification had not as yet happened, the owner played the music in his Gasthaus. A Communist guest happened to be in the Gasthaus and ordered him to turn it off. When Hans heard that, he made him a cassette of Heino's music after we had returned home and brought it to him on our next visit. The Wirt played it in the Gasthaus many times after that. By then, the Communists had no further power.
The Wirt and his wife, Herr und Frau Bockisch, in Alt Grimnitz.
The meal we had most often at several different places in the first year or two after the Wall fell was called "Hamburger Schnitzel," although it wasn't made from hamburg. It was a pork Schnitzel with an egg on top. (I would graciously offer Hans my egg!) That dish is usually called Schnitzel Bismarck elsewhere.
The choice from the menu was always small as only a few dishes were offered in those early days; always an egg dish and perhaps steak as well. Wonderful Bratkartoffeln were offered everywhere as eastern Germany has always been renowned for their potatoes. Sadly, in 1990, we found fields and fields of potatoes going to waste as there was no one to harvest them. Few, if any, private farmers worked the land; instead, it was all government-owned and run (land taken from the rightful owners) with the people not working for themselves but for the state. With no longer a Communist state, no longer were the potato fields worked or harvested. We stopped beside one such area and Hans dug up about ten kilo to take home, some of the best potatoes we have ever eaten.
On each successive visit over the years, other dishes were offered, including specialties from the region, one of which was Soljanka, a tomato-based soup introduced during the Russian era. I shall give that recipe and another--one of my favourite meals--in my next blog.
One of the things that really struck us was a billboard we saw on the side of the road in 1990, not long after reunification. It is shown below. It tells it all!
Note: Keep in mind that every Gasthaus has a day of rest (a Ruhetag), both here and in other parts of Germany, unless it is a large hotel/restaurant. I apologize for any pictures that aren't that clear. They are now over 20 years old and some of them weren't that clear to begin with. All were retaken with my digital camera. I used them to help tell the story. Any picture can also be enlarged by clicking on it. Just click on the arrow at the top left of the screen to return to the blog. I would be interested to know if you have enjoyed these posts. Although it is now over twenty years since the wall fell and reunification took place, it is a part of history.