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Flyout Menus, or How to Enjoy Your Curry Away From Home

Toma TasovacJune 14, 2006

Unconfirmed rumors circulating in Berlin these days suggest that Germany and the United Kingdom may be on the verge of a diplomatic scandal over the surprising question of who's got the better tikka masala.

Why couldn't the lads just make do with a bit of German sausage?Image: dpa

Germany and the United Kingdom would have a hard time fighting each other for the title of the world's least popular cuisine.

There are very few gourmet connoisseurs out there praising the virtues of German Schupfnudeln -- pasta made from potatoes and flour, usually served, much to the chagrin of every Italian mama's boy, with the horridly Teutonic sauerkraut (pickled shredded cabbage). There are also very few glossy food magazines that would grace their cover page with a picture of the German Blutwurst (blood sausage) -- a dish so vile-looking that there are actually very few foreigners who ever dared taste it.

It would be equally difficult to find -- among the cognoscenti, at least -- anyone raving about the full English breakfast, a peculiar insular invention to help the cholesterol-deficient get their morning off to a good start. The Brits are not all that reserved, after all -- at least not when it comes to breakfast. Who else combines bacon and eggs with black pudding (think Blutwurst), baked beans and devilled kidneys (lamb's kidneys cooked in Worcestershire sauce) or kedgeree (a dish consisting of flaked fish, boiled rice, eggs and butter)?

A brave new world

Tim Mälzer
Tim Mälzer is Germany's response to Jamie OliverImage: dpa

Surely, both Germany and Britain have long moved away from their traditional celebration of fat, on the one hand, and bland vegetables, on the other. In the UK, cooking jock Jamie Oliver has made a huge impact on the national sense of culinary pride with his metrosexual approach to fresh herbs and the inhibition-releasing garlic.

Jamie Oliver's German counterpart, Tim Mälzer, tries to provide a similarly liberating experience in the German-speaking world. His shows, however, are seriously crippled by his failed attempts to converse with his stern taskmaster girlfriend/assistant, who -- other than looking important because she's wearing a microphone headset -- doesn't do much except occasionally set the table.

So, what happens when British lads come to Germany to watch the World Cup and they want to get a good meal to celebrate an England game? Do they peruse local markets looking for fresh ingredients? Do they schlep around their copies of the "Naked Chef"?

Hardly. They get takeout, instead. But not from a nearby Indian or Thai restaurants, which are also very popular in Germany. They do it the heavy-duty way: They get their food delivered from England.

700-Mile Cup Takeout

WM Fußball England Fans
English fans are having a jolly good time in GermanyImage: AP

Members of an up-and-coming British band "Opposite World" have been hanging out in Munich these days, soaking in the Bavarian sun and partaking in the international adrenaline extravaganza, also known as the World Cup. According to the BBC, the band was taken to Germany as a prize for getting their latest single into the dance charts.

Getting ready for Thursday's England vs. Trinidad and Tobago match, the lads decided to treat themselves with a real -- although not exactly traditionally British -- meal. They called up Bombay Nights, their favorite restaurant in Bath, and placed a takeout order consisting of ramo dakhna chicken, mirchi fish, lamb karahi and Bombay king prawns, together with a selection of rice, naan breads and starters. When asked for delivery address, they said: "Munich, Germany."

The Bombay Nights manager, however, wasn't born yesterday. The order was, at first, ignored as a prank call -- something pubescent kids buzzed on beer and lack of purpose do in-between watching their favorite Simpsons episodes -- perhaps the one in which Bart Simpson calls Moe's tavern and asks the gullible owner to shout out for guests with exotic-sounding names such as Amanda Huggankiss, Mike Rotch, Heywood U. Cuddleme or Hugh Jass.

"We received a phone call on Saturday for a take-away to Germany and thought it was somebody having a laugh," said Bombay Nights manager Abdul Nasir.

But a second call followed along with a deposit. Soon thereafter, Bombay Nights was in business.

A bargain? Or a ripoff?

To accommodate the wishes of the not-yet-famous musicians, the restaurant manager will hop on the plane, fly out with the ordered meal in a cooler bag and reheat the dinner in the band's hotel in Munich, just in time for the England match.

The price, including delivery, will be a mere trifle: 1,600 pounds, which corresponds to 2,340 euros ($2,950).

So much for the prudence and maturity of the British lads who obviously didn't watch enough Jamie Oliver. Surely, they are getting publicity with a stunt like this, but they are also coughing up a lot of money for a reheated dinner. They could've gotten a much better deal by purchasing an Indian TV dinner from a German supermarket.

Feuriges Essen
The Anglo-German food dispute is heating upImage: AP

Not to mention that they may potentially cause a rift in the British-German relations. What if a Bavarian watchdog for the preservation of the national cuisine decides to stage a protest during the World Cup? Germany, after all, invited the world to feel at home. But is this how the world should repay this extraordinary kindness -- with a public display of contempt for bratwurst and sauerkraut?

The Bombay Nights manager added fuel to fire by unsubstantiated claims about the superiority of Indian restaurants in the UK.

"Obviously there are Indian restaurants in Germany, but there's nothing as good as us," Nasir said.

What if some Indian restaurant owner in Germany starts asking their English guests not to eat in their restaurants, since they can -- so easily and so cheaply -- get their orders delivered from their homeland?

Diplomacy should prevail

BDT Königin Elizabeth II wird 80
Queen Elizabeth II is celebrating her 80th birthday this yearImage: AP

In a further attempt to raise the bar for the British culinary arts, the BBC hosted an eight-part series this spring that tracked the progress of a culinary competition in which the country's top 14 chefs fought each other trying to create the perfect British lunch menu for the Queen and Prince Phillip.

Curiously enough, the winners will present their creations at London's Manison House on Thursday -- the same day that a reheatable curry dinner will make its way to from Bath to Munich.

If tensions between the two countries increase over who's got the better tikka masala, the Queen may have to consider addressing this hot-n-spicy issue in the speech she will give at the Manison House lunch.

It's a mad, mad world out there.