I am living my life in growing rings
which stretch over things.
I might not complete the ultimate one,
but try I will.
This is not by me but from the Book of Monastic Life by Rainer Maria Rilke. I don’t live like a nun at all, but I very much like Rilke’s picture of the rings; one life after the other, each based on all the previous ones. A lot of changes, but no ousting of the past. In one of those many earlier lives I apprenticed as a professional chef, in another one I immersed myself in wine for a whole year at the Heidelberg hotel school (since then the unwieldy “sommelière” sticks to my name as if I was a golden goose). At some point I slipped into writing… and discovered cheese as one of the fields closest to my heart (or did it discover me?). That’s why, in my present life, I am Heinzelcheese.
Well, not exclusively. I work as a freelance journalist and author, and I have been very happy to contribute to publications such as Effilee, Slow Food, Vinum, Fine, Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung as well as Gastronomica, Saveur and Culture, the word on cheese. Just as important are my books, which I tend to call my kids (you go pregnant for nine months and think that’s the hardest part of it – whereas the real fun only starts postnatal…). My proudest achievement so far has been Beyond Bratwurst: A History of Food in Germany, published by Reaktion Books in London, in English.
In February it made it into renowned British food writer Bee Wilson’s column “The Kitchen Thinker” in the Sunday Telegraph, then Nikki Werner wrote about it at length in South Africa’s Mail & Guardian. Nikki had met me here in Berlin in the summer, and it may have been the bottle of Julian Haart‘s fantastic Riesling we enjoyed together that inspired her to ask all the right questions. In her long piece she points out the amazing similiarities between Germany and South Africa, way beyond Boerewors and Bratwurst, with an empathy that really touches my heart and soul.
Bee Wilson shows her usual brilliant analytical mind and quotes Neil MacGregor who curated the very successful exhibition on Germany at the British Museum in London (where my Bratwurst was also on sale): “A Wurst map of Germany would be a mosaic of ungraspable complexity.” Well said, Sir, my thinking entirely! However Bee goes on: “One of the many surprises to me, in Heinzelmann’s book was how much Germans love vegetables – and not just sauerkraut. When Germans were surveyed on their favourite foods in 2007, answers included spinach, stuffed cabbage and asparagus.” We are wurst, but we are also more than that, so many things and persons at once.
And I know, it’s a little… well, let’s say, common, to blow your own trumpet. But hey – I am so proud of my little Bratwurst kid and how well it’s doing out there in the world. It was shortlisted for the prestigious Fortnum & Mason Food and Drinks Award as well as the Guild of Food Writers Award!!!
It was such an honor to feature amongst legendary luminaries such as Dan Barber, Diana Henry, Isabelle Legeron, Fuchsia Dunlop, Yotam Ottolenghi, Tom Parker Bowles, Massimo Bottura and Heston Blumenthal – to name only a few… so: yippieh and bubbles are in order, I guess, even if in the end, someone else took home the hamper, trophy or whatever they give you. You can see the full lists here and here. And more reviews are here and here. And “we” made it into HARVARD!
Enough – if you like to know more: here.