VORSPRUNG DURCH TECHNIEK…

7 Jun

 

 

Nestled in the foot hills of the Bavarian Alps, lay the small village of Vichtenstein. An onion-church shadowed, collection of dwellings, and businesses untouched by the modern world. Every year in the spring cows would be brass-belled up to Alpine meadows, and in the summer, young girls dressed in Dirndls and wearing blond pig-tales, would dance at the Bier-fest for their lederhosen-wearing sweethearts. Life was good. Life was slow. Living in harmonious symbiosis, the people of Vichtenstein didn’t care much for outsiders, preferring the familiar to the unusual. They bothered nobody and expected the same.

Herr.  Davidhoff owned the local Metzgerei, the butcher’s shop, that served the village. His father had been a butcher, as had his father’s father. What Davidhoff didn’t know about Wurst wasn’t worth knowing. Inside the small white-tiled shop on the Marktplatz , commerce was swift.

 Every Saturday morning, after the trestle tables had been arranged, and the red-and-white striped awnings hung, the locals would assemble for their once-a-week shopping extravaganza. Being frugal folk, and knowing the value of a pfennig, they wouldn’t accept shoddy goods. Consequently the local stall-holders had become attuned with local taste, and offered exquisite produce. Beautiful garten-grown vegetables, fine alpine cheese, locally pressed wine, all wrapped in the essence of fresh baked Kaiser-brotchen.

 The butcher-shop was small, but adequate for the villagers needs. Four people at a time could stand inside to peruse the exquisite offerings Davidhoff had prepared. Undeterred and patient, the people would queue outside on the cobbled street, waiting their turn to purchase whatever the Herr. Butcher had for sale.

 Fine salamis, schinken , schnitzel und Schweinfleisch. Bomb-sized Sausages hung from the ceiling and smoked meats waited impatiently on shelves, ready to be devoured by the demanding volk of Vichtenstein. Business was good. Where else were they going to go?

 Size in this classic tale of meat merchandizing clearly didn’t matter. It was quality that counted not quantity.

Of an evening the butcher and his family would sit out on their porch and enjoy the serenity their occupation brought them.They were rich by no means however, meat offered them a good living. What they had, wasn’t much, but it sufficed their humble needs. Herr Davidhoff would smoke his long china pipe and watch the stars, whilst thanking Gott in Himmel that he’d continued in the family tradition. Vichtenstein was a paradise and they were living large.

*

The following Saturday he stood behind the counter, rasping carving knife against stele. “Guten morgen Frau Schmidt. How are you today?”

“Sehr gut. All is well. Thank you Herr Davidhoff.”

“The usual?” he asked, reaching for the sausages.

“No, not today.  Perhaps a couple of pork-chops, and maybe a small salami.

Unusual, he thought. Frau Schmidt had thirteen hungry children and was one of his best customers, always filling her basket with choice cuts.

“Danke ,” she said and left.

Frau Myers was next, another old customer. Her family had shopped with him for years. “Guten morgen. The usual?”

“Not today. Just a little bloedwurst and maybe a jar of sauerkraut.”

Money exchanged hands. DeutscheMarks clinked into the till. Herr Davidhoff called for the next customer. He wiped his hands on his stained apron and looked up. The shop was empty. But this was Samstag, the busiest day of the week? He walked from behind the counter, through the door and out to the street. There was nobody queuing outside his butcher shop, in fact there were very few people n the market place. He scratched his head and walked over to Herr Hiller, the cuckoo-clock maker whose stall tick-tocked incessantly, the occasional appearance of a carved cuckoo making for sprung-surprise

Was gibts? Whats going on, where is everybody? Hiller scratched his head, offering no explanation. Perhaps there was a holiday or festival in one of the other local Dorfs? It didn’t matter much. He’d take the rest of the day for himself, shut up shop and perhaps walk down to the river and do a little fishing. Might as well make hay while der sonne scheint.

Herr. Davidhoff closed the shop door, turned the key in the lock, and headed down to the river. Basket in hand, with some of Frau Liebstadts pumpernickel-bread, a hunk of his best salami, and a bottle of wine, he planned on spending a pleasant couple of hours. It was only when he got to the river bank that he understood where his customers had gone.

On the far bank, on the edge of the neighboring village, a giant monstrosity filled the horizon. A massive steel-shelled building,  imposed its gargantuan size on the local countryside. A Mecca of consumer consumption that would no doubt be the downfall of the diminutive stall-holders of Vichtenstein. How had he not seen it coming? The reusachtig cornucopia of produce was virtually pounding on their front doors. Realizing their impending fate and losing his appetite for fine wine and fresh baked bread he ran home, or rather walked rather quickly, to decide what was to be done. Their whole future was in jeopardy. How on earth could they ever manage to fight one of the Giant supermarket chains? It was the same all over Bavaria. Corporate kaufhalles where strangling the little man and taking no prisoners. Devastating neighborhoods for share-holder dividence –  killing years of tradition.

What to do, what to do? He climbed a wooden gate, and stopped to wait for a flock of sheep being herded up the road.

 “Guten morgen Herr Schwartz.”

“ Morning Herr. Davidhoff.”

Mundane and quotidian, except village life would never be the same again. 

*

Frau Davidhoff could tell something was wrong with her husband, he was never this quiet. The butcher was a garrulous man who enjoyed the company of others. He was never stuck for a story and could always tell a joke. But not tonight.

Was gibts shatz – why the long face?”

The butcher shook his head and told her about the titan-of-trade that had set up shop across the river. A behemoth of marketing-square-footage where no doubt the good people of Vichtenstein were spending there hard earned geld. He could only imagine the offers:

Buy one get one free!

Twelve for the price of two!

His imagination was running wild. Didn’t they know he offered old fashioned traditional value? That with him, their families were safe and secure from fillers, additives, and steroids? The Philistines-of- flesh didn’t care about them. Lieber Gott! It didn’t  even know the names of all of Frau Schmidt’s children!

Was all lost? Was there no hope?

His wife listened intently and then sat down beside him. “You have to speak with Oma. She always knows what to do in a crisis.”

Her husband nodded his head. When in doubt or times were troubled, and the scheisse was really hitting the fan, Oma always had the answer. He smiled at his wife, kissed her forehead and stood up. He would go to Oma and seek her advice. The woman who’d lived through two world wars, and one world cup had seen, and done it all. There was never a better shoulder to cry on than Oma’s.

*

Oma sat by the fireside as she always did. A glass of schnaps in one hand and a good book in the other.  Murder-mystery is what she preferred. It stirred the grey-matter, got her thinking. With her eyes closed she listened to her son as he told and retold the tale of the villages plight. Of course he’d an ulterior motive, but his concern for the village was well noted.

Oma stared into flames, whipped back her head, and downed the schnapps.

“Quality!” she screamed.

“Was  sagen Sie?” Quality. What do you mean?”

“Quality over quantity every time. Those schweinhunden may have more meat, but we have the best. Great things come in small packages. The only way we can take down the leviathan is to provide what the giant doesn’t.”

They’d always provided quality, thought Davidhoff, in fact, it was what made him stolz to be a butcher.

“We have to make our famous liverwurst,” Oma said. ”This will end the tyranny so that one again we’ll be able to live in peace and harmony with our neighbors. The shop will survive. The supermarket must die.”

Oma stood up, went to the schrank, and fussed with some papers. “Here it is. Your Opa’s famous recipe.”

*

All that night Herr Davidhoff toiled in his kitchen. A little of this, a pinch of that, and of course the secret ingredient – liver. If this didn’t work then he didn’t know what he would do. Oma had never let him down in the past. He had to have a little faith.

*

The following Saturday found him and his wife standing in front of the KaufHalle. Dressed in traditional garb, holding silver platters in front of them, they waited for the battle-royal to begin. Slowly but surely cars started to pull into the parkplatz . Former customers disembarked from automobiles.

 Taking himself by the Knossen and boldly striding forth, Davidhoff offered sliced sausage to the surprised crowd. Shamed customers grabbed eagerly at the little German flags that poked from the miniature morsels, and popped them in their mouths. He stood back and waited for the magic to happen. Slowly but surely he saw their faces light up, the smiles return to their mouths.

Victory. Sieg Heil!

People pushed and shoved to reach the food offered. “Oh Herr Davidhoff . We’d forgotten the true taste of real sausage.

*

The following Samstag the Metzgerei was filled. Just like old times. The sausage flew across the counter. Not just the butchers shop, but the whole market teemed with life, chinking to the sound of silver-marks, exchanged for quality produce.

They’d done it. With Oma’s help, and the secret recipe, they’d saved the Dorf. Herr Davidhoff, with a little faith and a tiny morsel of delight, had defeated the giant supermarket.

ALLES GUT, ENDE GUT, as they say in Vichtenstein.

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One Response to “VORSPRUNG DURCH TECHNIEK…”

  1. writerwilke June 17, 2011 at 4:46 pm #

    Great story. Love the embellishments in Deutsche… Das ist sehr gut… Would that this is reality…

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