So, last week was the “International Food Party” at my German school. Everyone was asked to bring a traditional dish from their homelands, and as the token American, I chose apple pie. What could be easier or more American than that?
Of course, the Germans would never deign to sell pre-made pastry dough (which is all I have ever used), and so I had to attempt my first-ever homemade piecrust. Only, I couldn’t find any vegetable shortening in the supermarket. According to my German-English dictionary the equivalent German word is “Schmalz,” but the only kind of Schmalz they stock is Schweinschmalz – essentially, pork drippings. Maybe that’s what the German use for their piecrusts, I thought. In the end it was all I had to work with, so it would have to do.
Unfortunately, when my pie came out of the oven, it smelled distinctly of bacon. I couldn’t stomach a single bite, but the students in my class seemed to like it well enough. Some even came back for seconds. The only person I didn’t fool was my German teacher. She asked after the crust, and I confessed that I had used Schweinschmalz. “Well, I don’t know what you use to make Äpfelstrudel in America,” she said, “But in Germany we use Margarine.”