Last spring we went to Frankfurt for a conference. Because no one likes to fly 9 hours to spend 2 days standing on your feet just to turn around and head back, we decided to take some time afterward to travel around the Western German and Eastern French countrysides with a brief detour in Luxembourg. It is absolutely beautiful there and it is certainly not a destination I would have selected if not for the conference.
To do our touring we rented what we hoped would be a station wagon. Jim is 6’5” which makes VW Golfs, the rental car of choice in the EU, difficult for us. Well... the joke was on us; instead of the standard Peugot or VW they gave us a Spanish minivan, because if nothing else says ‘American overseas’ besides white tube socks and golf shirts, it’s a minivan. It’s like wearing a giant “kick me, I’m American” sign. Don’t get me wrong, it was a finely designed minivan (which I opened up on the autobahn as much as you can with a minivan) but with just 2 people in it you do look like an asshole, or rather, two assholes, while everyone else is quietly idling away in their eco-friendly Mercedeses.
A lot has been said about German food and most of it is not kind. It’s the same tired joke as those about British dental hygiene. I truly enjoyed most everything I had there. It does not hurt that their culinary culture tends to be pig-centric. The Germans love the pig morning, noon and night. Especially in the morning. All the hotels we stayed in had expansive buffets featuring an impressive array of cured pig products, with some eggs, cheeses and white asparagus to lighten the menu. Needless to say, I came back noticeably heavier than I went over and it took months to reverse my week long porcine bender.
For our road trip, our lunch of choice was the ubiquitous salami sandwich. They could be found in coffee shops, gas stations and cafes. The salami sandwich they serve is austere (surprise!): it is salami and bread, sometimes salami, bread and butter and, rarer, salami, cheese and bread. That’s it. These seemed to me to make a sensible and durable road snack: zero refrigeration needs, filling, inexpensive, tasty. I found eating dry salami sandwiches in a Spanish minivan while watching the postcard worthy German countryside roll by incredibly charming.
I find myself longing for those salami sandwiches, but I can’t offer a recipe for just salami and bread. And I doubt a dry salami sandwich would taste as good in Atlanta even if I headed for our garage and eaten in our own German station wagon. Last week I had a large head of kale seriously considering wilting, so before it could fall over I whipped it in to a pesto. The pesto can go with anything really, pasta, crackers or just served as a dip but it goes great with salami and cheese in sandwich form.
Kale Pesto - Makes 1 cup
1 large bunch kale
4-5 cloves garlic
2 ounces parmesan
1.5 tbs. oregano chopped
6 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
Blanch the garlic and the kale in a pot of boiling water for 3 minutes. Run under cool water and drain. Roughly chop kale. Place kale, garlic, cheese, oregano, 4 tbs. of oil, s&p in food processor and process, add the additional oil as needed.
Salami Sandwich with Kale Pesto - Serves 1
1 small ciabatta roll (or 1/4 baguette)
5 slices hard salami
2 slices provolone
3 tbs. kale pesto
Note: You can make these for a road trip and serve them at room temperature but it’s even better if you can toast the bread in the oven face down for a few minutes, then add the meat and cheese to one side and return to the broiler and bake until the cheese is bubbly.