It is well known that Helmut Kohl’s favorite dish was Saumagen. He had this specialty from his native Palatinate prepared on many official occasions. He reportedly presented it to Mikhail Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin, George Bush senior, François Mitterand, Jacques Chirac, Margaret Thatcher, Queen Elizabeth and Spain’s King Juan Carlos, among others.
Now you should know that Saumagen is a pork stomach stuffed with meat, potatoes and condiment. A kind of stuffed bagpipes, or giant sausage, not exactly refined, not exactly everyone’s friend and not exactly the first thing that comes to your foreign visit. But for the longest-serving Chancellor, this organ roast was a tactical asset. He deliberately served his guests not lobster and caviar, but Deftige Kost, where the German Deftig more or less means the opposite of the Dutch Deftige. So powerful, heavy. In other words: honest and traditional burger food.
It is not known whether most of Kohl’s guests liked the Palatinate treat, but Juan Carlos seems to have remarked to his host afterwards that he had won a Saumagen fan and Yeltsin had the recipe noted down for his cook in the Kremlin. the court could imitate. But of course that could have been just courtesy.
Food is politics, even in politics. A small study of the favorite foods of famous leaders yields a list of dishes that all seem to say something about the character and ambitions of the politician in question.
While Barack Obama, when he was president of the United States, liked to emphasize that he loved spinach and broccoli, and he also occasionally gorged on chili and nachos, Donald Trump prided himself on living on a diet of fast food. When he was not fasting, Mahatma Gandhi ate mostly brown rice with dal (lentil puree). Mao Zedong also ate the same food as his people: tofu with vegetables. Winston Churchill: roast beef. Tony Blair: fish & chips. Gerhard Schröder: curryworst.
And Angela Merkel? It would be almost unthinkable that when asked about her favorite food she would say that she is fond of toasts with foie gras, wouldn’t it? No, Merkel’s self-proclaimed Leibgericht are also perfectly fine from a diplomatic point of view. Potato soup, green cabbage with sausage, Meatballs (meat dumplings in caper cream sauce). Everything simple, typical German Home cooking, although she agreed at a press conference for and by children that she prefers to eat spaghetti bolognese.
The fact that Merkel is also not averse to a popular fat mouth is proven by the story that the Chancellor who grew up in the GDR bought a döner (Turkish kebab) from her first Westgeld. And in 2016, she caused some commotion when, in the middle of a Brexit negotiation, she left an EU summit in Brussels to get a bag of chips from a nearby student flat. With andalouse sauce.
You certainly won’t hear me claiming that I suspect Helmut Kohl of exaggerating his love for Saumagen, that I suspect Mahatma Ghandi secretly feasted on goat curry when no one was watching, or that Tony Blair actually prefers sushi to fish & chips . But I would like to emphasize here that I really believe Angela Merkel when it comes to her culinary life. In the run-up to her resignation, she has expressed that she is looking forward to having more time to bake plum pie for her husband. That is certainly not a political answer. Here speaks a woman who no longer has to prove anything to the world.
Plum cake with sprinkles
Plum pie is often baked on a baking tray in Germany. The bottom usually consists of sweet yeast dough, although there are also recipes with cake-like bottoms in circulation. Rows of ripe plums are then placed on top, which may or may not be sprinkled with Sprinkles (dough crumbs). This is a popular pastry with our eastern neighbours, especially in August, when the small, deep purple lesions are in season. But such a Plum cake from plate is very tasty with any ripe plum, so just make it with whatever plum variety you can find.
For 12 – 18 pieces
For the bottom:
275 g plain flour + extra for dusting
7 g instantgist
50 g sugar
50 g butter, flaked
1 egg 75 ml hand-warm milk
zest of 1 lemon
½ tsp salt
For the plum filling:
1 tbsp semolina 800 g ripe plums, unpeeled, quartered
75 g sugar
For the shortcrust pastry:
100 g (ordinary) flower
80 white caster sugar
pinch of salt
80 g butter, flaked
stand mixer or electric mixer with dough hooks
clean tea towel
put the flower, yeast, sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl. Crack the egg on top and add the warm milk. Insert the dough hooks of the mixer and knead for 4 minutes.
Add the lemon zest and the salt and knead for a further 2 minutes until a nice smooth, silky-gloss dough forms. The dough should be so elastic that it springs back when you press a finger into it. Knead further if necessary. (You can of course also make the dough by hand; then count on kneading for about 10 minutes.)
Place the dough ball in a bowl lightly greased with neutral oil and cover with a clean tea towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place for 1 – 2 hours, until it has doubled in volume.
Preheat the oven for at 200 degrees. Dust the work surface and the rolling pin with flour and roll out the dough into a 24 x 30 cm (or comparable size) rectangle. Place the piece on a baking tray lightly greased with neutral oil. Sprinkle the dough evenly with semolina. (This protects the pie crust from the moisture from the plums.) Make nice rows of the plum quarters on the dough.
Mix 75 g of sugar with half a teaspoon of cinnamon and sprinkle evenly over the plums.
Do for the shortcrust pastry the flour, caster sugar, a pinch of salt and the butter flakes in a bowl. Knead quickly with a clean hand to a mixture of coarse and slightly finer dough crumbs.
Sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the plums. Slide the baking sheet into the center of the oven and immediately turn the temperature back to 180 degrees.
Bake the cake cooked in 40 – 50 minutes. Let it cool down (at least partially) before slicing. Serve with whipped cream, sweetened or not, if desired.