There’s a smoked ham in the Black Forest which smells and tastes divine. I’m not sure I can do it justice in my description here: it’s not just smoky and it’s not just hammy, it’s a whole new level of cured meat fabulousness. And the taste is a lingering wonder of smouldering meaty goodness. Your ham and cheese sandwich will never be the same again.
Has M&MRC taken up writing a food blog? you ask. No, but we need to be clear about something. Food is a wonderful motivator. Let me explain.
My husband and I had rented an apartment at the top of the hill in a small village outside Triberg. We had views down to the village and the hills and forest beyond. When we arrived I had joked about having to walk up the hill with your shopping (there were a lot of old, retired folks living up by us). I had also joked about the road up to our apartment being an excellent toboggan run in winter. Joke not, Laura.
After a weekend of typical holiday excess – champagne, cherry wine, black sausage, breakfasts that last an hour and many local beers – we woke on the Monday morning to a sunny scene below. We needed provisions. And it was also time for a run. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There is something very noble about running on holiday. So, nobly, we donned our running gear and headed out.
When I say out, I mean down. Because there was no other way to go. The road led down, the village was down, the German deli was down, the park was down. We had no choice. As we ran, breakfast smells wafted into the streets from small pensions. It was the smell of that special ham, a smell to die for.
“We need to get some of that stuff,” I said to Martín as we rolled down the hill. We went past the little supermarket and into a park.
I felt like one of those geek runners in the shop: trainers, running leggings, headband. The old locals looked at us funny. But I didn’t care. I needed a packet of that smoky ham, a round of that wonderful dark brown bread with sesame and pumpkin seeds, some of that wonderfully heavy hard cheese.
Martín loaded up the backpack and took care of that. We stepped out into the street. And then I remembered. The way back wasn’t back. It was up.
It started mildly enough. It actually felt OK going up, the opposite muscles getting a workout they had missed out on on the way down. And then the road winded further, curving upwards, steeper and scarier. I knew the last part was the worst, so I focused on Martín just ahead, the smoky ham made in heaven in his pack. Talk about donkey and carrot.
I thought I wouldn’t make it past the turning up to our little plateau above the village, but I kept going. The houses and pensions en route were still pumping out their own, edible breakfast smells, tempting me to stop and just lick the air. I didn’t. Up, up, up we went.
I stopped at the final turn. The gradient was volcano-like and my legs were now worn and jelly. Pumping my arms I attacked it walking, every step taking me closer to breakfast. The car park flattened out and the last hundred metres I ran again, sprinting to catch up with Martín.
I mean the ham. Which I did.