Foiled Again!

The German Craze for Baked Potatoes
By Sharon Hudgins

“Curses! Foiled again!” was a favorite line of the stereotypical villain in 19th century melodramas when the rogue’s evil intentions were thwarted by the handsome hero’s clever deeds. But would that villain say the same thing if he were tossed a huge, foil-wrapped, piping-hot baked potato—the shiny main character on the culinary stage at some German restaurants today? Would he catch that hot potato like a football, burn his hands, and utter, “Curses! Foiled again!”?

Casting a baked potato as the main dish in a nice restaurant might sound somewhat out of character. But Germans have taken baked potatoes to heart—and to new heights. Chain restaurants in the U.S. tend to load the tubby tubers with fattening fillings of butter, sour cream, bacon, and shredded cheese, sometimes on top of a layer of barbecued beef or pulled pork or spicy chili. Order a baked potato as a main dish in a German restaurant, though, and you’re more likely to have a choice of a giant spud stuffed with a mountain of soft fresh Quark (a white cheese-like dairy product) garnished with snipped chives. Or filled with a full serving of smoked salmon or an overflowing mound of Krabben, those tiny shrimp so beloved in North Germany. Or a healthy mixed salad of lettuce, tomatoes, shaved carrots, sliced fresh mushrooms, and chopped onions, with a mustard dressing. And all of that usually for a price less than the Euro equivalent of ten dollars.

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