Sunday, April 20, 2008

Memories of Breakfast in Cincinnati

I made a breakfast this morning that brought me back to last summer when I visited my mom in Cincinnati for the first time since she moved there. I was so close to the Mason Dixon Line, and I was hoping to have a down-home, rib-sticking breakfast of biscuits and gravy. I had put out some feelers about places to go and we were pointed toward the Echo Restaurant.

The Echo Restaurant is very retro inside and reminded me of a diner my family used to visit when we lived in New Jersey. It's long closed, but it was called Updike's. I have fond memories of the place.

But in my search for biscuits and gravy on the menu, I came across this thing called goetta. I asked the waitress what it was, and she told me it was a type of sausage.

Here's the story behind goetta. According to Wikipedia, it was a German peasant food. It originated in an area of Germany that saw a large number of people migrate to the Cincinnati area. It's made with ground meat (and pork), and I guess the oats were added to stretch out the meat and have a less-expensive meal. Goetta is very similar to a dish served in by the Pennsylvania Dutch called Scrapple, which it seems more people may have heard of. But goetta has its fans.

Linking the people to their heritage, the producer of store-bought goetta, Glier's, holds a Goettafest annually. What fun!

So as Mom and I sat there at our table, I decided that I needed to try the local foods to complete my Cincinnati experience, and I ordered it. The waitress asked me how I wanted it cooked. I asked her to bring it to me the way that most people order it. Turns out that people like it crispy on the outside and served with syrup.

Just to make sure I had a good breakfast, I ordered a side of the biscuits and gravy. But in the end, they didn't hold a candle to the goetta, so I barely touched them. Here's a pic of my breakfast that morning:

I had to have this goetta again. Since it is only made in the Cincinnati area, I had two choices. Order it online (which means that it would have to be packed in ice and shipped), or make it.

The people in the restaurant were so friendly (I wish people were that friendly here). One woman overheard me talking to my mom and politely brought herself into the conversation to tell me that making goetta was fairly easy. She told me the basic ingredients and said that the package of the pinhead oats that are used to make it has a great recipe.

We were in a rush to the airport on the day I left and I ran into the grocery store. But I didn't see the pinhead oats and my mother promised to ship some to me when she came across it.

But when I arrived home, I had to make the goetta right away, so I didn't wait for my mom to send the pinhead oats. I used steel cut oats instead. This next post is of my recipe and photos.

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