Jews & Vampires: Homemade Sauerkraut & Vienna’s Garlicky Hungarian Sauerkraut-Sausage Soup inspired by Polanski’s Imaginary Transylvanian Shtetl (Recipe) #Dracula #CulinarySchund

Sauerkraut and sausage soup beef frank

 

with the recipes for homemade sauerkraut and for
Vienna’s Hungarian sauerkraut & sausage soup

“[…] Wolf saw signs in the language of his birth and rowdy bars lit with electric lights that yet reminded him of Vienna and Berlin. The smell of bratwurst and sauerkraut wafted in the air from covered stalls and men, already drunk at this hour, walked with arms linked together singing of the glories of the Fatherland.”
— 
Lavie Tidhar, A Man Lies Dreaming1

“Oy, have you got the wrong vampire!”
— 
Shagal, a vampirized Jew, in reaction to a cross brandished against him in the movie The Fearless Vampire Killers.2

Anti-Semitic fabricated text from 1903 Russia purporting to describe a Jewish plan for global domination called "<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Protocols_of_the_Elders_of_Zion" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Protocols of the Elders of Zion</a>". This is the cover of a French edition showing a blood-sucking Jewish vampire (around 1920).
Anti-Semitic fabricated text from 1903 Russia purporting to describe a Jewish plan for global domination called “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion“. This is the cover of a French edition showing a blood-sucking Jewish vampire (around 1920).

WHAT does a blog about Jewish Viennese food have to do with vampires and an imaginary Transylvanian shtetl? First of all, there are obvious parallels in vampire imagery and anti-Semitic stereotypes: blood- and money-sucking, disease-spreading, ugly.3 And it is, unfortunately, common knowledge that Vienna is a notoriously anti-Semitic place — not just its infamous pre-World War II mob or earlier as the birthplace of modern-day virulent political anti-Semitism with Schönerer, Lueger and later as Hitler’s town of apprenticeship. No, even today, polls regularly show a shocking 25% or even 50% of voters aren’t offended by a candidate’s or party’s anti-Semitism. In 2018, high functions in the state are occupied by numerous members of secretive clubs that do not accept Jews in their ranks and have songbooks full of Nazi glorification, some calling their members to take on the murders of the seventh million of Jews. Enough said. All this is clichéd and would be funny if it weren’t so sadly true.

Furthermore, Vienna is geographically situated in Central Europe, at the heart of the promising “Centrope”4, but sometimes, depending on the field of study, situated in Eastern Europe, thus in the vicinity of the original Dracula-land. After the dawn of the Habsburg’s Austro-Hungarian Empire, after the vampires’ Transylvania was no longer part of the Empire, a large number of its inhabitants, many of which were Jews, Hassidic Jews even, flocked from the country’s various former territories to its imperial capital, Vienna. They brought with them Vienna’s own repressed rural and archaic past, and according to the xenophobes, their backward folklore, smelly food, indigenous ugliness, offensive eating habits, and countless frightful diseases, all of which are unified in the figure of Dracula.

Vienna’s established Jewish community itself wasn’t immune to such sentiments and didn’t view their poor eastern brethren, those poverty-stricken and often traumatized refugees, with the best of eyes. Peter Gay notes that even Sigmund Freud wasn’t exempt of such senitments.5 Not only did those immigrants remind them of a past they tried to forget through emancipation and acculturation, but they also feared the gentiles would associate these kaftan-wearing natives of Dracula-land with themselves.

Lastly, as immortalized in popular imagination by the 1949 movie The Third Man,6 at the border of the Iron Curtain, Vienna was a spying spear into what was the post-World War II Communist Bloc. In the 1967 Roman Polanski movie The Fearless Vampire Killers, the vampire ostensibly symbolizes the Stalinist regime. Today the Jewish shtetl is dead and often barely more than plain Exoticism for Jews, but especially for gentiles.

"Arab News", a Saudi daily newspaper depicts Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as the star of "Sharoncula", biting into a Palestinian child on a movie screen. (arabnews.com, December 2001).
“Arab News”, a Saudi daily newspaper depicts Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as the star of “Sharoncula”, biting into a Palestinian child on a movie screen. (arabnews.com, December 2001).

However, the figure of the Jewish Vampire is thriving in the media and especially on social media, where particularly Israeli politicians are often depicted in the classic role of the Jewish vampire. In a notable occurrence in 2001, the Israeli prime minister of the time Ariel Sharon was caricatured as “Sharoncula”, a vampire feasting on a little Palestinian girl.

What has sauerkraut and sausage got to do with all this? Could you think of anything more representative of Central and Eastern European food than sauerkraut and sausage? Hardly so. If the stereotypical Viennese isn’t feasting on cakes and tortes, he surely devours sauerkraut and sausage, oh yes, and a schnitzel of course. If we are to believe award-winning US sauerkraut specialist and all-things-fermentation maven Sandor Katz,7 sauerkraut surely is incredibly healthy and counterbalances all of the sausage’s bads. They do make a great pair indeed, sausage and sauerkraut. And most sausages are the product of fermentation too. With a Freudian eye on this pairing, a French (which in Yiddish is synonymous with “dirty”) saying comes to mind — “Babies are born in the cabbages” — at least for the boys; for the girls, it’s roses.

More to the point, Sandor Katz goes even further and suggests something that, on the surface at least, is shocking: the fermentation of the dead! Thus, we may add, why not the undead, the vampires? Normally, as is common moviegoer’s knowledge, one fights vampires by piercing through their heart, but fermenting means a simple, quick and clean composting, which is climate-neutral and resource-efficient, effectively closing an energetic circle. Burials that use nothing more than a shroud, like those in Israel, come to mind here.

Extra crispy, thick "kabanos" sausage from the kosher butcher around the corner (the one and only regular butcher shop in Vienna) with delicious homemade sauerkraut, Dijon mustard, and rye bread on the side. The sausage must be very slowly fried to render its fat and get a wonderful crispy crust.
Extra crispy, thick “kabanos” sausage from the kosher butcher around the corner (the one and only regular butcher shop in Vienna) with delicious homemade sauerkraut, Dijon mustard, and rye bread on the side. The sausage must be very slowly fried to render its fat and get a wonderful crispy crust.

The thing about fermentation, as Sandor Katz explains, is that it is a process that is in perfect harmony with nature, as it works with the help of all the bacteria and other microorganisms commonly present in our environment. It sounds like a beautiful antidote to the phobic language of the cleansing of bacteria, diseases, plagues, rats, et cetera, which often metaphorically and murderously refers to human beings. Thus, can fermented foods — as the product of old, rich civilizations and symbolizing symbiosis with even the most minute beings of our environment — push back the anti-Semitic mob identifying Jews with Dracula? As garlic was protection against mythic vampires, can the art of fermentation, as a state of mind, shield us from the blood libel? Note that the only food shown in Polanski’s Fearless Vampire Killers is garlic, sauerkraut, and sausage. Armed with a large paprika-loaded sausage, let us explore the possibilities of garlicky sauerkraut.

Fried Hungarian "kolbász" sausage sandwich with homemade sauerkraut on Viennese rye bread. To make the most out of thicker, greasier sausages, like this kosher Hungarian paprika kolbász, slowly fry them up cut lengthwise. Serve with sweet mustard on the side.
Fried Hungarian “kolbász” sausage sandwich with homemade sauerkraut on Viennese rye bread. To make the most out of thicker, greasier sausages, like this kosher Hungarian paprika kolbász, slowly fry them up cut lengthwise. Serve with sweet mustard on the side.

Turn your attention to a plate of homemade sauerkraut, topped with a sausage of your choice from your local Jewish butcher, or the vegan section if you prefer. If you are in a hurry, just get a simple New York hot dog with an extra layer of sauerkraut from a deli.8 Sauerkraut with sausage is a dish from the archaic backwaters of a collectively suppressed, shameful past, perceived as probably dirty and certainly unhealthy, a relic from the old country. (To many, making sauerkraut at home seems like a dangerous undertaking that could possibly kill you.) Polanski confines his movie to an Eastern European village with a Jewish subculture, invaded by a Soviet Dracula who was finishing off the little Jewish life and culture that the Nazis hadn’t exterminated. But today Sandor Katz, with his Hungarian given name on the cover of a series of bestsellers on the topic of sauerkraut, comes to the rescue of these Transylvanian relics and delicacies as a self-proclaimed “fermentation revivalist”, dissipating urban legends about the dangers of sauerkraut-making.

Beef frank hot dogs with sweet Kremser mustard and my homemade sauerkraut. (The green pickled gherkins are colloquially called "crocodiles" in Vienna.)
Beef frank hot dogs with sweet Kremser mustard and my homemade sauerkraut. (The green pickled gherkins are colloquially called “crocodiles” in Vienna.)

When Bram Stoker was publishing Dracula in 18979 — a story of the return of the repressed, the irruption of archaic sexual forces into a modern civilized world that the vampire seeks to drain of its blood — Sigmund Freud had just started conceptualizing the basis for psychoanalysis. 1897 was a turning point in Jewish history: It marked the start of the first Zionist Congress, the foundation of the Jewish labor movement Yiddisher Arbeiter Bund, and the world’s largest and oldest Yiddish newspaper, Forverts (The Jewish Daily Forward in its English-language edition).10

But in the same year, Dracula drew on conceptual and visual trends of anti-Semitism. This was even more apparent in its 1922 world-famous movie version, Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror, by F. W. Murnau,11 with its depiction of Dracula as a horrible blood-sucking plague, a world-controlling pandemoniac lord of the rats. Although not anti-Semitic in itself, the film adds a layer of common anti-Semitic Weimar-era representations to Bram Stoker’s already problematic novel. In doing so, the film helped pave the way for purgative sacrificial nationalism and thus didn’t fail to deeply impress the Nazi propaganda chief of the anti-Semitic newspaper Der Stürmer (The Stormtrooper), Julius Streicher,12 and thus proved nefast for Germany’s and Europe’s Jewry. Werner Herzog’s beautiful 1979 remake Nosferatu the Vampire got rid of the crooked nose and other stereotypically Jewish features of Dracula in favor of a much more sympathetic, existential and guilt-ridden interpretation of Dracula.13

Murnau’s Dracula draws on the evil imagery with stereotypically Jewish traits that prevailed at the end of the 19th century. (Cropped from a still in F. W. Murnau's 1922 "<a href="https://www.amazon.com/Nosferatu-Classics-2-Disc-Remastered-Blu-ray/dp/B00EO2I6RO/ref=ice_ac_b_dpb_twi_blu_1?s=movies-tv&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1520946844&amp;sr=1-3&amp;keywords=nosferatu" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror</a>".)
Murnau’s Dracula draws on the evil imagery with stereotypically Jewish traits that prevailed at the end of the 19th century. (Cropped from a still in F. W. Murnau’s 1922 “Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror“.)
Here Dracula's shadow is an archetype of an anti-Semitic caricature of a Jew fitted with all his classic attributes. (Cropped from a still in F. W. Murnau's 1922 "<a href="https://www.amazon.com/Nosferatu-Classics-2-Disc-Remastered-Blu-ray/dp/B00EO2I6RO/ref=ice_ac_b_dpb_twi_blu_1?s=movies-tv&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1520946844&amp;sr=1-3&amp;keywords=nosferatu" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror</a>".)
Here Dracula’s shadow is an archetype of an anti-Semitic caricature of a Jew fitted with all his classic attributes. (Cropped from a still in F. W. Murnau’s 1922 “Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror“.)
Top: The stereotypical Jewish features of Dracula played by Max Schreck in F. W. Murnau's 1922 "<a href="https://www.amazon.com/Nosferatu-Classics-2-Disc-Remastered-Blu-ray/dp/B00EO2I6RO/ref=ice_ac_b_dpb_twi_blu_1?s=movies-tv&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1520946844&amp;sr=1-3&amp;keywords=nosferatu" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror</a>". Bottom: A humanized Dracula (Klaus Kinski) fascinated by Lucy Harker (Isabelle Adjani) in Werner Herzog's 1979 remake called "<a href="https://www.amazon.com/Nosferatu-Vampyre-Phantom-NON-USA-Blu-Ray/dp/B0095XZ7VA/ref=tmm_blu_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&amp;qid=1520946920&amp;sr=1-5" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Nosferatu: Phantom of the Night</a>".
Top: The stereotypical Jewish features of Dracula played by Max Schreck in F. W. Murnau’s 1922 “Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror“. Bottom: A humanized Dracula (Klaus Kinski) fascinated by Lucy Harker (Isabelle Adjani) in Werner Herzog’s 1979 remake called “Nosferatu: Phantom of the Night“.

It took a survivor of the murder of the European Jews to come up with a funny and at times hilarious version of this horror classic. In The Fearless Vampire Killers,14 Polanski goes to the source of Dracula’s plague, feudal Transylvania. Inn-keeper Yoine Shagal is, before turning into a vampire himself, a traditional Jewish character out of a Marc Chagall painting. In the movie’s imaginary Eastern European country somewhere between Poland’s shtetls and Romania’s Transylvanian Hasidic villages, Shagal is stomping sauerkraut with his feet while tasting the barrel-cured cabbage and looking at the luscious bottom of the maid bent over scrubbing the floor. Unaware, his wife grates the cabbage next to him, but at night she tries to keep him from visiting the busty shiksa maid, hitting him over the head with one of their thick, long air-drying sausages.

Top: Rebecca Shagal with a big sausage looking to prevent her husband from pursuing their maid. Middle: The Shagals shredding and stomping the cabbage while Professor Abronsius asks Rebecca whether she can see the bump on his head from a hit he got the night before (from her with the sausage). Bottom: Yoine Shagal still munching and stomping on the cabbage until he gets a glimpse of the maid scrubbing the floor on all fours. (Roman Polanski's 1967 "<a href="https://www.amazon.com/Fearless-Vampire-Killers-Dance-Vampires/dp/B00YQJRZ0O/ref=sr_1_2_twi_blu_2?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1520895032&amp;sr=8-2&amp;keywords=%22The+Fearless+Vampire+Killers%22" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Fearless Vampire Killers</a>".)
Top: Rebecca Shagal with a big sausage looking to prevent her husband from pursuing their maid. Middle: The Shagals shredding and stomping the cabbage while Professor Abronsius asks Rebecca whether she can see the bump on his head from a hit he got the night before (from her with the sausage). Bottom: Yoine Shagal still munching and stomping on the cabbage until he gets a glimpse of the maid scrubbing the floor on all fours. (Roman Polanski’s 1967 “The Fearless Vampire Killers“.)

There’s garlic everywhere, in every corner of the tavern, surely to protect against vampires. Garlic, the time-proven weapon against vampires, has since Biblical times been associated with Jews, who even referred to themselves as “garlic-eaters”.15 But neither garlic nor the maid’s brandished cross are of any help against lustful Yoine Shagal turned Jewish vampire. In what became an iconic joke, he just laughs out “Oy, have you got the wrong vampire!” before he bites her. But, Shagal is a second-rate vampire: Poor and Jewish, he’s later on not even allowed to rest in the crypt with the count and his son.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goqj9oWFhMw
Top: Penetrating through the window soaked in red wine (not blood). Middle: Trying to defend herself with a crucifix. Bottom: Shagal's famous line "Oy, have you got the wrong vampire!" (Polanskis 1967 movie "<a href="https://www.amazon.com/Fearless-Vampire-Killers-Dance-Vampires/dp/B00YQJRZ0O/ref=sr_1_2_twi_blu_2?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1520895032&amp;sr=8-2&amp;keywords=%22The+Fearless+Vampire+Killers%22" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Fearless Vampire Killers</a>".)
Top: Penetrating through the window soaked in red wine (not blood). Middle: Trying to defend herself with a crucifix. Bottom: Shagal’s famous line “Oy, have you got the wrong vampire!” (Polanskis 1967 movie “The Fearless Vampire Killers“.)

The young employee pursued by Yoine Shagal is mirrored by his own young, beautiful daughter that he is unable to protect from the other characters’ and the audience’s voyeurism or indeed vampirization by the movie’s Dracula, Count Von Krolock from the Transylvanian-style castle nearby. Sharon Tate plays the beautiful, constantly bathing, too goyish-looking daughter, ready to be bitten by the vampire, the great oral sadist. (Fittingly, he’s the only one who really talks in this otherwise almost silent movie.16)

In the end, nobody wins against the vampires, neither the pious Shagal, transformed into a vampire while trying to protect his daughter from Dracula and concurrently lusting for his goyish maid, nor the fearless vampire hunters, Professor Abronsius and his clumsy assistant Alfred. On the contrary, the end of the movie suggests the vampires will unstoppably spread evil over the world. A bleak and snowy, silenced perspective. The Myth of the vampire Jew, the blood libel, continues as long as there’s a thirst for blood.

But to some, Polanski’s archetypal depiction of an Eastern European Jew, especially a Jew who becomes a vampire, is anti-Semitic. “This seems fundamentally to misunderstand Polanski’s deep engagement with Central Europe and the Jewish character”, writes Thomas Prasch in Oy, Have You Got the Wrong Vampire.17

The attacks on Polanski get even worse: “In Shagal, the audience is laughing at an image of historical imagination that is colder, blacker, and more toxic than the vampire itself. For over a thousand years, the toxic blood-sucking Jew and the vampire have shared the same imaginary body.”18 Prasch gives a fundamental reply:

But such a reading rather misses the effect of laughter on stereotype. Much as with comic effect of other forms of Polanski’s exaggeration — the over-heavy cobwebs, the over-deformed servant, the ultra-incompetent vampire hunters — the tactical deployment of Jewish stereotypes, and the inclusion of anti-Semitic responses (like Shagal’s exclusion from the crypt), undermine the archetypal forms.19

Some of the overblown stereotypes deployed in the movie are culinary: loads of garlic, sauerkraut-stomping and an enormous phallic sausage in the hands of an obese and angry matron. This allusion to a penis is not gratuitous: In the classic Nosferatu movie, Dracula is tall, erect, and ball-headed, and the beauty throws open her window awaiting his bite, offering herself as a sacrifice. Ever since Dracula, the vampire’s attacks have always been sexualized.20

Seduction, sacrifice, and rape in three vampire movies. (Top: "<a href="https://www.amazon.com/Nosferatu-Classics-2-Disc-Remastered-Blu-ray/dp/B00EO2I6RO/ref=ice_ac_b_dpb_twi_blu_1?s=movies-tv&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1520946844&amp;sr=1-3&amp;keywords=nosferatu" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Nosferatu</a>" by Murnau. Middle: "<a href="https://www.amazon.com/Nosferatu-Vampyre-Phantom-NON-USA-Blu-Ray/dp/B0095XZ7VA/ref=tmm_blu_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&amp;qid=1520946920&amp;sr=1-5" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Nosferatu</a>" by Herzog. Bottom: "<a href="https://www.amazon.com/Fearless-Vampire-Killers-Dance-Vampires/dp/B00YQJRZ0O/ref=sr_1_2_twi_blu_2?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1520895032&amp;sr=8-2&amp;keywords=%22The+Fearless+Vampire+Killers%22" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Fearless Vampire Killers</a>" by Polanski, where Dracula is not bald but gray-haired and plainly raping the beauty.)
Seduction, sacrifice, and rape in three vampire movies. (Top: “Nosferatu” by Murnau. Middle: “Nosferatu” by Herzog. Bottom: “The Fearless Vampire Killers” by Polanski, where Dracula is not bald but gray-haired and plainly raping the beauty.)
My favorite vampire movie, Carl Theodor Dreyer's 1929 dreamy "<a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/cart/view.html/ref=ord_cart_shr?app-nav-type=none&amp;dc=df" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Vampyr - The Strange Adventure of Allan Gray</a>" is completely void of anti-Semitic stereotypes and, incidentally, was a big box-office failure at the time. In this movie-still, the vampire, Marguerite Chopin, a powerful elderly woman, bites the young girl, Léone.
My favorite vampire movie, Carl Theodor Dreyer’s 1929 dreamy “Vampyr – The Strange Adventure of Allan Gray” is completely void of anti-Semitic stereotypes and, incidentally, was a big box-office failure at the time. In this movie-still, the vampire, Marguerite Chopin, a powerful elderly woman, bites the young girl, Léone.

Before it’s our turn to get to the kitchen and sit down to eat, a couple of remarks on what became of the vampires and the Jews since the late sixties and Polanski’s movie. Lavie Tidhar, an Israeli kibbutz-born writer from the next generation, whose family, the Heisikovitzes, as chance has it, stem from Dracula-land, has set out to change the course of the Jewish vampire. Here the method isn’t humor but pulp fiction, schund in Yiddish, meaning the stench that emanates from the skinning of a slaughtered animal. Yiddish authors like Isaac Bashevis Singer or best-selling author Nahum Meïr Schaikewitz, whose pseudonym was “Shomer”, kept writing these cheap dime novels to make a living. “Schund or starve”.21

At the heart of Lavie Tidhar’s celebrated revisionist novel A Man Lies Dreaming is a character named, significantly, Shomer. While incarcerated in Auschwitz, Shomer imagines revenge on Hitler and the Nazis in the form of such a schund novel.22 He invents a looser-Hitler working as an unsuccessful, ranting private eye. At one point, a famous prisoner, Italian chemist Primo Levi, number 174517, speaks with another inmate:

And Ka-Tzetnik says: ‘[…] to write of this Holocaust is to shout and scream, to tear and spit, let words fall like bloodied rain on the page; not with cold detachment but with fire and pain, in the language of “schund”, the language of shit and piss and puke, of pulp, a language of torrid covers and lurid emotions, of fantasy: this is an alien planet, Levi. This is Planet Auschwitz.’ […] and [Primo] Levi says, ‘But that is kitsch, and bordering on pornography,’ and so they go on until another inmate tells them to shut the fuck up about literature and they lapse into a heavy silence.23

Tidhar, editor of such telling titles as Jews vs Zombies and Jews vs Aliens,24 enacts this same type of schund revenge in the vampire stories in his collection HebrewPunk, a work that got him an entry into the Encyclopedia Judaica. He refused to accept what Polanski’s joke with the Jewish vampire and the crucifix is all about: how vampire stories prove that Christianity “works” by showing the cross and holy water effectively fending off vampires and that the Jews’ only place in this Christian world is as evil vampires, perpetuating the thousand-year-old history of blood libels. Worse, according to Tidhar, is that Jews can write Holocaust stories but cannot successfully write fantasy stories unless they aren’t too Jewish and change their name — with the famous exception of Isaac Asimov.25

To address the dilemma of the Jewish vampire, Tidhar set out to reinvent it, in a Nazi setting. “This sounds awfully racist”, his mother exclaimed upon hearing his idea, “Like the worst blood libels, all the things that were attributed to Jews throughout the years!” Which, Tidhar confirms, was partly the point: He wanted to reclaim fantasy from these racist stereotypes and from history itself.26

Another famous example of this realm of so-called holocaust fiction is Tarantino’s 2009 fabulously vengeful Inglourious Basterds,27 telling the story of two plots to assassinate Nazi Germany’s leadership. Or, outside of the pulp fiction universe, one of the best comedies ever made, Ernst Lubitsch’s 1942 To Be or Not To Be.28 I want to believe that this proves history is written by those who know how to write well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oN0vQFCAggM

The “Heil Hitler” scene in Ernst Lubitsch’s 1942 “To Be Or Not To Be“.

In the HebrewPunk story called “Transylvanian Mission”, a Jewish vampire confronts, with the help of the local resistance fighters, an elite group of German werewolves who seek, with Doctor Mengele at their head, to revive Vlad Telpes, a.k.a. Dracula. Finding inspiration in historical facts, Tidhar says he “had fun with” the Nazis’ tendency to “hunt for mythical objects” and be “obsessed with the occult”.29

Tidhar’s evocation of Mengele in “Transylvanian Mission” follows a pattern of post-World War II Purim spiels, plays traditionally staged on the Jewish holiday of Purim to celebrate the revenge and rescue of the Jewish people. After World War II, the play’s evil character Haman was often portrayed as Hitler. After the liberation of the concentration camps, survivors in displaced persons camps staged hangings of Hitler and burnings of Mein Kampf.30 The Nazis forbid Purim carnival as soon as they took power, afraid of its literal and symbolic power, and rightly so. Obsessed with the idea of a world dominated by Jews, Nazi propagandist Julius Streicher sarcastically called his own execution “Purimfest 1946” as he was about to ascend the scaffold after his trial at Nuremberg.31

"Hitler Haman" at the displaced persons camp Landsberg next to concentration camp Dachau's subcamp during the Purim carnival of March 1946. (Photography by G. Kadish.) There were "dolls, cartoons, masks, costumes, there was a burning of 'Mein Kampf' [...] It was like Hitler's funeral. We knew that Hitler was dead, but we could not see where he was. Here we saw that he was executed and buried. " In: <span class="author notFaded" data-width="132">Martin Paulus,<span class="contribution"><span class="a-color-secondary">‎ et al.</span></span></span>, "<a href="https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&amp;field-keywords=9783499199134" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Ein Ort wie jeder andere. Bilder aus einer deutschen Kleinstadt, Landsberg 1923-1958</a>", (Reinbek: Rowohlt; 1995) p.25.
“Hitler Haman” at the displaced persons camp Landsberg next to concentration camp Dachau’s subcamp during the Purim carnival of March 1946. (Photography by G. Kadish.) There were “dolls, cartoons, masks, costumes, there was a burning of ‘Mein Kampf’ […] It was like Hitler’s funeral. We knew that Hitler was dead, but we could not see where he was. Here we saw that he was executed and buried. ” In: Martin Paulus,‎ et al., “Ein Ort wie jeder andere. Bilder aus einer deutschen Kleinstadt, Landsberg 1923-1958“, (Reinbek: Rowohlt; 1995) p.25.
Shagal’s cheap, popular, Jewish inn food — all those superbly braided garlic heads, the work that goes into the making of sauerkraut and air-drying sausages — is a sort of culinary schund. This labor-intensive, flavorful food is symmetrically opposed to the parasitical, bloody nourishing of a vampiric Jewish caricature. Garlic, sauerkraut and sausage are the result of a rich culture, human and microbiotic; they are identity, markers of social class. A product of fermentation of both bacteria and ideas, of anger and hope, sauerkraut and sausage are symbols of the weapons of real vampire hunters.

Cut the cabbage in quarters and cut out the core. You can add a little red cabbage to add a rose tint to the final product.
Cut the cabbage in quarters and cut out the core. You can add a little red cabbage to add a rose tint to the final product.
A food processor or mandoline is very useful for shredding the cabbage.
A food processor or mandoline is very useful for shredding the cabbage.
Add salt and spices to taste. I added garlic and too many caraway seeds. Massage and break the cabbage strands to make them render their liquid, which we will use to submerge the cabbage. Let stand for at least one hour until there is quite a bit of liquid in the bottom of the bowl.
Add salt and spices to taste. I added garlic and too many caraway seeds. Massage and break the cabbage strands to make them render their liquid, which we will use to submerge the cabbage. Let stand for at least one hour until there is quite a bit of liquid in the bottom of the bowl.
Fill a jar and completely submerge the cabbage in its liquid by pressing down with force. To keep the cabbage submerged, use a Ziploc bag partially filled with water to weigh it down. (My Ziploc bag here is definitely too big. It prevents me from closing the jar with the lid.)
Fill a jar and completely submerge the cabbage in its liquid by pressing down with force. To keep the cabbage submerged, use a Ziploc bag partially filled with water to weigh it down. (My Ziploc bag here is definitely too big. It prevents me from closing the jar with the lid.)
For the beef stock, roast the beef bones, onions, garlic and root vegetables. This makes your homemade beef stock turn darker and tastier. The sauerkraut-sausage soup will be that much better with a homemade stock. If you are in a hurry, skip the roasting; it will still be superior to anything store-bought.
For the beef stock, roast the beef bones, onions, garlic and root vegetables. This makes your homemade beef stock turn darker and tastier. The sauerkraut-sausage soup will be that much better with a homemade stock. If you are in a hurry, skip the roasting; it will still be superior to anything store-bought.

 

Recipe: Vienna’s Hungarian Sauerkraut & Sausage Soup

Viennese cuisine has its own take on this Hungarian treat from far-away, imaginary Transylvania. Franz Maier-Bruck’s great Sacher cookbook presents this as Hungarian Cabbage Soup.32 Obviously, many Jewish cookbooks also contain recipes for sauerkraut soups.33 With less liquid, meat instead of sausage and some sour cream it becomes not kosher and is called a paprikash. Szekely-goulash and Szegedinerkrautfleisch, on the other hand, are made with pork, the kosher eater’s final frontier.

Sauerkraut

Many people dislike sauerkraut until they’ve tasted a homemade one, which is super simple to make. As it’s the star of the show, try to get the best you can get, maybe from a farmers’ market out of a wooden barrel.

Beef stock

Homemade beef stock is a real game-changer in this recipe. It is quite easy and cheap to make at home. Try to follow this extra step as it imparts critical flavor to the soup. If you really must buy ready-made stock, chicken stock is often the better tasting option.

Sausage

Obviously, this soup won’t change the taste of your sausage, so get a sausage you actually like! There are so many wonderful sausages out there, especially at your local Hungarian kosher butcher. Just believe in the miracle powers of sauerkraut to counterbalance all that fat and cholesterol.

Sauerkraut

1 head green cabbage 
garlic
caraway seeds
(optional)
juniper berries (optional)
salt
water

Beef stock

1 pound/500g shank, shin or short ribs of beef
3 quarts/liters cold water (or a little more to cover)

2 medium onions, halved, skin on
1 head of garlic, peeled, halved horizontally
1 medium carrot
1 small celery stalk
1 small yellow turnip (optional)
1 small leek
a handful of parsley stems
6 black peppercorns
1 teaspoon mustard seeds

3 juniper berries
1 bay leaf

Hungarian Sauerkraut-Sausage Soup

3.5 ounces/100g smoked beef bacon, finely diced
1 tablespoons schmaltz or vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced

1 head of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon hot paprika
1/2 tablespoon caraway seeds
a handful of dried porcini mushrooms, soaked (optional)

500g sauerkraut (preferably homemade, see recipe), drained, liquid reserved
1.5 quarts/liters beef stock (see the recipe for homemade stock, or use store-bought chicken stock)
12 ounces/330g Hungarian sausage, Frankfurter, Knobelwurst or Knockwurst, 0.2 inches/5mm slices
pepper, salt, brown sugar or honey to taste

  1. Making sauerkraut: 2 to 4 weeks ahead, core and shred the cabbage. Peel and slice the garlic. Combine in a large bowl. Add spices and salt generously to taste, vigorously wringing and breaking the cabbage shreds with your hands. Leave for an hour until quite a bit of liquid has drawn out of the cabbage.
    Fill a large mason jar with the cabbage. Press down on the cabbage so that it is submerged in the cabbage’s liquid. To keep the cabbage shreds under the liquid, use a plastic bag, like a Ziploc, fill it partially with water, close it, and place it on top of the shredded cabbage as a weight.
    Close the jar loosely with the lid or a cloth and a rubber band and store in a cool part of the room. Check daily to release the accumulated gas, or else the jar will explode!
    After 2 weeks you can start to taste the sauerkraut, to see whether it has reached the degree of fermentation to your liking. When it’s done, store it in the refrigerator, which will almost bring the fermentation process to a halt.
  2. Making beef stock: Preheat the oven to 480°F/250°C. Put the rinsed meat together with all the vegetables into an ovenproof pan and roast until nicely browned. Toss the pieces in the pan once or twice to brown them all over. Put the roasted meat and vegetables into a stock pot or a pressure cooker. Cover with water by an inch (2.5cm) and bring to a boil. Skim off any scum, then add all the spices. Cover and cook for 3 hours, or 1 hour in a pressure cooker. Use a fine-meshed sieve to strain the stock. Skim off excess fat from the surface of the stock. Separate the meat from the bone and the gelatinous and fatty parts. Dice and put the meat back into the stock.
  3. Start the sauerkraut soup: In a 3- to 4-quart/liter stock pot, let the diced beef bacon render its fat over low heat. Add the schmaltz (or vegetable oil) and onions. Sauté the onions until nicely browned, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and caraway seeds. Stir until fragrant, then mix in the tomato paste and the two paprikas. Cook for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add beef stock: Add about two cups of beef stock to release all the browned bits from the bottom of the pot, with the help of a spoon. Pour in the rest of the beef stock.
  5. Add sauerkraut: Cut up the sauerkraut a little to shorten the shreds, which will be easier to spoon. Add the sauerkraut to the pot. Strain the soaking liquid of the dried porcini mushrooms through a fine-meshed sieve to get rid of the dirt and add both the strained liquid and the mushrooms to the pot. Very gently simmer uncovered for a minimum of 20 minutes. Though the sauerkraut will be tasty at this point, it will be delicious after six hours of slow simmering!
  6. Add sliced sausages and bring back to a boil. Turn down the heat again and gently simmer for a couple minutes more.
  7. Season to taste with pepper, salt, brown sugar or honey, as well as the reserved sauerkraut liquid.

Serve with some parsley leaves and a Kaiser roll or Challah on the side.

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Footnotes

  1. Lavie Tidhar, A Man Lies Dreaming (London: Hodder & Stoughton; 2014) p.25.
  2. The Fearless Vampire Killers, or Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are in My Neck (originally released in the UK as Dance of the Vampires) is a 1967 horror comedy movie by Roman Polanski.
  3. For further in-depth reading on the centuries-old depiction of Jews as drinkers of blood refer to Sara Libby Robinson’s Blood Will Tell: Vampires as Political Metaphors Before World War I (Brighton, MA: Academic Studies Press; 2011) and Allan Nadler’s important comments in The Jerusalem Post, “Imaginary Vampires, Imagined Jews“, about the distorted impression that Robinson’s text might convey about Max Nordau as a German, anti-Semitic social Darwinist. <http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/Imaginary-vampires-imagined-Jews> (retrieved March 14th, 2018)
  4. Centrope Map

    Wikipedia on Centrope <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centrope> (retrieved March 14th, 2018).

  5. Freud, writes Peter Gay, “[…] described his revulsion to his friend Emil Fluss, Jewish like himself. He found their company [on a recent journey by train] ‘more intolerable than any other’.” In a corresponding note, Peter Gay observes, “In the absence of more evidence, this supercilious description remains somewhat mysterious. It may just have been the snobbery a well-educated, German-speaking Jew might share with his close friends. But since Freud’s mother also had undeniably Eastern European speech, one must wonder whether Freud either denied his mother’s origins or, more subtly and less consciously, was in rebellion against her.” Peter Gay, Freud: A Life for Our Time, (London: J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd, 1988), p.19.
  6. The Third Man is a 1949 film noir movie directed by Carol Reed and written by Graham Green. It is set in post-World War II Vienna and stars Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles.
  7. Sandor Ellix Katz is a food writer and self-taught “wild fermentation” specialist who authored the award-winning Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from Around the World. (White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing; 2012).
  8. On the importance of sauerkraut as Jewish food and for Jewish cuisine refer to the Gil Marks’ Encyclopedia of Jewish Food (Hoboken: Wiley; 2010).
  9. Dracula is a 1897 gothic horror novel by Irish author Bram Stoker (1847-1912). Available online at Project Gutenberg <http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/345> (retrieved March 14th, 2018).
  10. I added this convergence of Freud and Jewish history to Allan Nadler’s discussion of the watershed year 1897 in “Imaginary Vampires, Imagined Jews” in The Jerusalem Post. <http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/Imaginary-vampires-imagined-Jews> (retrieved March 14th, 2018).
  11. Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (original title: Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens) is a 1922 German expressionist silent horror movie by F.W. Murnau.
  12. Compare the image of Dracula, a.k.a. Count Orlok in the movie Nosferatu, with later Nazi propaganda, like the posters for Der ewige Jude (“The Eternal Jew” <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Eternal_Jew_(1940_film)>, retrieved March 14th 2018), a 1940 anti-Semitic movie by Fritz Hippler, or the 1938 anti-Semitic children’s book Der Giftpilz (“The Poisonous Mushroom”) by Ernst Hiemer published in Berlin by Julius Streicher (<http://www.archive.org/details/DerGiftpilz> retrieved March 14th, 2018).

    See also The Myth of the Vampire Jew and Blood Libels by Ushi Derman (Translation to English by Danna Paz Prins; Beit Hatfutsot, The Museum of the Jewish People; September 27, 2017) <https://www.bh.org.il/blog-items/myth-vampire-jew-blood-libels/> (retrieved March 14th, 2018).

  13. Nosferatu the Vampire (original title: Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht (translates: “Nosferatu: Phantom of the Night”) is a West-German horror remake of F. W. Murnau’s 1922 German Dracula adaptation Nosferatu. The movie stars Klaus Kinski as Count Dracula and Isabella Adjani as Lucy Harker.
  14. The movie co-starrs Polanski with his future wife Sharon Tate, who will tragically be murdered in 1969 by Charles Manson’s gang — the one with the swastika tattooed on his forehead.
  15. The Encyclopedia Judaica states that the Bible mentions that the Israelites ate garlic (Heb. שׁוּם, shum) in Egypt and longed for it while wandering in the wilderness of the desert (Num 11:5). As the Jews had the custom of eating garlic, they referred to themselves as “garlic eaters” (Ned. 3:10). Emperor Marcus Aurelius even criticized the Jews for exuding its smell (Ammianus Marcellinus, Res gestae, 22:5).
  16. Appropriately, actor Ferdy Mayne who plays Count Von Krolok, a.k.a. Dracula, also lends his voice to the movie’s narrator.
  17. Thomas Prasch, “Oy, Have You Got the Wrong Vampire” in: The Laughing Dead. The Horror-Comedy Film from “Bride of Frankenstein” to “Zombieland”, edited by Cynthia J. Miller and A. Bowdoin Van Riper (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield; 2016), p.11.
  18. Brenda Gardenour, “Biology of Blood-Lust: Medieval Medicine, Theology, and the Vampire Jew” in: Film & History 41, no.2 (2011), p.63; see also p.51; as quoted by Thomas Prasch “Oy, Have You Got the Wrong Vampire” in: The Laughing Dead. The Horror-Comedy Film from “Bride of Frankenstein” to “Zombieland”, edited by Cynthia J. Miller and A. Bowdoin Van Riper (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield; 2016), p.11. In the notes to the article Thomas Prasch adds, “Gardenour shows no evidence that she is aware that she is writing about a man with Jewish roots who lost his mother in the Holocaust.”
  19. Thomas Prasch, “Oy, Have You Got the Wrong Vampire” in: The Laughing Dead. The Horror-Comedy Film from “Bride of Frankenstein” to “Zombieland”, edited by Cynthia J. Miller and A. Bowdoin Van Riper (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield; 2016), p.11.
  20. A hallucinating example, of course, is the 1929 movie Vampyr – The Strange Adventure of Allan Gray — one of my all time favorite movies — by a lifelong and committed foe of anti-Semitism, Carl Theodor Dreyer. His movie is simply not interested in such stereotypes at all. It is thus somewhat alien to the subject and doesn’t fit here. (In this movie Dreyer made Nicolas de Gunzburg play Allan Gray. Gunzburg suits were made by Knize & Co., the Viennese tailors. In 1971 Gunzburg was named by Vanity Fair into their International Best Dressed Hall of Fame.)

    For a short Introduction to Dreyer and his stance on anti-Semitism see “Carl Th. Dreyer’s Film On Jewish Persecution” by Mike Kuhlenbeck (April 15, 2016) on the Jewish Currents, Activist Politics & Art website.

  21. “Schund or starve,” writes Ushi Derman. Schund was popular, and not just with the proverbial desperate Yiddish housewives. To the point where even פארווערטס (The Jewish Daily Forward) published up to three sequential novels at the same time. As Ushi Derman describes, “Soon enough Schund became an integral part of all dailies. Statistics from 1932 show that out of 50 daily Yiddish newspapers distributed worldwide, 30 published over 300 Schund sequence novels.” This success meant money and attracted many authors. But all Yiddish literature eventually died with the mass murder of Europe’s Jews. See “Schund Literature: The Yiddish Pulp Fiction” (November 26, 2017) by Ushi Derman on Beit Hatfutsot’s website: <https://www.bh.org.il/blog-items/schund-literature-the-yiddish-pulp-fiction/> (retrieved March 14, 2018).
  22. Lavie Tidhar, A Man Lies Dreaming (London: Hodder & Stoughton; 2014).
  23. Lavie Tidhar, A Man Lies Dreaming (London: Hodder & Stoughton; 2014), pp.156-157.
  24. Lavie Tidhar, HebrewPunk (Lexington, KY: Apex Publications; 2007); Jews vs Zombies (Ben Yehuda Press; 2017); Jews vs Aliens (Ben Yehuda Press; 2017).
  25. Cf. Lavie Tidhar, “Thrilling Hebrew Tales!: On Jewish Vampires, Golems, Tzaddiks and ‘HebrewPunk’” in The Schmooze section of The Jewish Daily Forward (November 8, 2010) <https://forward.com/schmooze/132950/thrilling-hebrew-tales-on-jewish-vampires-golems/> (retrieved March 14th, 2018).
  26. Cf. Lavie Tidhar “Thrilling Hebrew Tales!: On Jewish Vampires, Golems, Tzaddiks and ‘HebrewPunk’” in The Schmooze section of The Jewish Daily Forward (November 8, 2010) <https://forward.com/schmooze/132950/thrilling-hebrew-tales-on-jewish-vampires-golems/> (retrieved March 14th, 2018).
  27. Inglourious Basterds is a 2009 alternate history World War II movie directed by Quentin Tarantino.
  28. To Be or Not To Be is a 1942 American comedy movie directed by Ernst Lubitsch. It tells the story of a troupe of actors in Nazi-occupied Warsaw trying to fool the Nazis. Even Slavoj Žižek calls this his favorite comedy.
  29. Cf. Lavie Tidhar “Thrilling Hebrew Tales!: On Jewish Vampires, Golems, Tzaddiks and ‘HebrewPunk’” in The Schmooze section of The Jewish Daily Forward (November 8, 2010) <https://forward.com/schmooze/132950/thrilling-hebrew-tales-on-jewish-vampires-golems/> (retrieved March 14th, 2018).
  30. Cf. Martin Paulus,‎ et al., Ein Ort wie jeder andere. Bilder aus einer deutschen Kleinstadt, Landsberg 1923-1958, (Reinbek: Rowohlt; 1995) pp.25.
  31. See Wikipedia for more and similar facts <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purim#In_recent_history> (retrieved March 14th, 2018).
  32. Franz Maier-Bruck, Das Große Sacher Kochbuch. Die österreichische Küche. (“The Great Sacher Cookbook. The Austrian Cuisine”), (München: Schuler Verlagsgesellschaft; 1975), p.118.
  33. A few references in no particular order:

    • Jewish Cookery, Madelaine Masson (London: David & Charles; 1971): “Sauerkraut Soup”
    • Koschere Köstlichkeiten, Salcia Landmann (München: Mary Hahn; 1995): “Barschtsch aus Sauerkraut”
    • The New York Times Jewish Cookbook, (New York: St. Martin’s Press; 2003): “Sauerkraut Soup”
    • The Israeli Cook Book, Molly Lyons Bar-David (New York: Crown Publishers; 1964): “Hot Sweet Sauerkraut”
    • The Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook, Fania Lewando (New York: Schocken; 2015): “Sauerkraut Soup With Mushrooms (Kapusniak)”
Nino Loss
Hi, I'm Nino, an unbridled foodnik blogging from Vienna, the city of dreams and Sigmund Freud. I'm cooking up a therapy with recipes and stories from Viennese cuisine and its eclectic influences – Jewish, Italian, Hungarian, Bohemian... – with an armchair psychoanalytical twist.

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