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Hamburg Street Food 101

Hamburg, Germany

I recently returned from visiting friends in Hamburg, Germany. It was my first trip to the city on the Elbe. Tall metal cranes unloading container ships score the horizon. Musty cathedrals stand side by side with shiny modern buildings and narrow row houses lean into each other as if to hear a secret. Canal boats channel tourists through a maze of the city’s waterways. There are sidewalk cafes and leafy parks and bicycles everywhere. The landscape was not like the pastoral Black Forest tableau I’d envisioned. But travel is all about new experiences, especially the food, and I arrived in Hamburg very hungry.

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The Charms of Chili Paste

Chile Paste

My refrigerator houses an array of condiments from places near and far, suitable for many cuisines. I tend to buy bottles of random things when snooping about a food market in a neighborhood (or country) I’ve not visited in some time. Mostly these bottles collect dust, the inner goop too obscure for me to make the effort to combine it with its proper mates (though an occasional weekend cooking project will have me rooting through the cupboards).

In principle, I don’t consider chili paste one of these obscure condiments. After all, many cuisines have multiple condiments made of chiles that are critical to their dishes. But until lately, the pastes I’ve picked up along the way remained the wallflower at the prom — I see them there, they look pretty, but I’m afraid to approach them.

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