Thursday, May 7, 2020

Deutsche Kuche Garlic Sage Spatzle (Aldi)

This one engaged in a culture war with my tastebuds...and lost.
I enjoy some of Aldi’s Deutsche Kuche products, which, for the uninitiated and uninformed, is the brand name applied to their German-made food products. However, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I’m also pretty terrified of a lot of them. Like marzipan, for example, which doesn’t look appetizing no matter how hungry I am when I go there. Or their chocolate dominoes, which I neglected to read about before digging in and discovering a soft chewy center with a flavor that should never ever pair up with chocolate. Ever.

Their garlic sage spetzle actually hit me in a weird mood: I had just started a new medication, which was affecting my appetite. And if you know anything about me, nothing affects my appetite. So here I was, walking up and down the aisles of Aldi, doing the weekly grocery shopping alone for the first time in a very long time (my wife was at home, sick), with a stomach that just wasn’t having any of anything. I basically escaped by buying things that we always buy, knowing that they would probably sound good later on in the week. And then I stumbled on the garlic and sage spatzle in the freezer. Our eyes met, and for some reason, it was one of the only things that actually sounded good, so into the cart it went.

After tossing it in the microwave for a while, I realized why this stuff hasn’t really caught on in the US…the noodles (the "spatzle" of the title) look like overgrown maggots. Sorry, but that’s really the most appropriate description I can come up with. They’re white, oversized, and even have little texture lines throughout…not the most appetizing thing I’ve ever seen, but that certainly didn’t stop me from digging in!

It’s pretty fascinating to me how the foods from different cultures taste so differently to those used to a different area, even when using the same ingredients. It’s akin to the way that a guitar can sound “middle Eastern”, or “western”, despite using the same set of notes and the same number of strings. I have to confess that, while it definitely tasted better than eating a bowlful of maggots, it’s not a flavor that really appealed to me all that much. And again, it’s something that has to do, at least partially, with culture.

Despite the inclusion of garlic, which is usually a dominant flavor in most things that its name appears in, it’s relegated to backup duty here. Really, despite eating half the container, I can’t even picture anything American that this dish really resembles, and it’s where my lack of a culinary background really becomes apparent. I’m assuming that the main flavor is sage, but wouldn’t know enough about it to either confirm or deny that. Supposedly, it’s topped off with some mozzarella cheese (finally, something I’m familiar with!), which is evident from the way the cheese “strings out” when stirring it together after cooking, but not much of the cheesiness translates into the flavor, either. Or, at least, not in the familiar way it does in most American cuisines.

The one flavor that I did clearly pick up was salt, and there seems to be quite a bit of that in here, along with an oily substance that douses everything. At first, I thought this was olive oil, but according to the packaging, it seems to be a butter sauce, which also makes sense, although again, it's not as scrumptious as one would expect judging from the name.

As I stated before, I can’t really compare the flavor to anything, which kind of leaves you on vague terms, but it’s not something that really appealed to me. I guess it kind of, sort of reminded me of a soy sauce, with some added sage and garlic? That looks stupid on paper, though, so don’t hold me to that description. I didn’t hate it at all, and there’s a decent amount of pasta in the container for $2.99, so if this is your kind of thing, or my lack of a useful flavor profile still has you teetering on the edge about whether or not to try it, it won’t really cost you a whole lot to do so. I might get it again down the road, just to be fair and give it another chance, but if the opportunity never arises, I wouldn’t be all that heartbroken over it.

Overall: 4.5/10. I think what we have here, is merely an example of cultural unfamiliarity. While I’ve enjoyed many of Aldi’s Deutche Kuche-branded products (which are German imports), some of them are just too weird for me to really get into (like their Peanut Puffs, or their bland cheese strudels). This is one of the latter items. Despite the inclusion of garlic (a strong flavor) and mozzarella cheese (one of my faves), the primary flavor is neither of them; in fact, I can’t even compare this flavor to anything, besides maybe a teriyaki sauce, only without the sweetness? Sorry for my vague terms, but this is a completely unique dish, at least to my palate, and one that seems to be a little more authentically German than a lot of the things released by the Deusche Kuche brand. I might try it again, but it will be a little ways down the road. To end it on a high-point, there’s quite a bit of food in here for $2.99 per package.

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