Cheap Eats, If You Need Them

Dearest Rachel –

So I’m back to the hotel yet again this morning, and it’s barely ten. This time, at least, I’ve gone through the antigen test (there was nobody in line! It pays to wait!) – turns out, they only needed to swab one nostril rather than the two we had to do back at home. Still, it was definitely one of those ones where you think they’re going to read your thoughts, they get so far into your brain. Anyway, I should get my results by email in fairly short order – I hope.

Meanwhile, I’m getting my breakfast from the Co-op, after seeing all those things under the lamps.

In fact, I probably could’ve taken more – and in fact, I considered it, particularly the sausage roll and the calzone. However, that would probably have been overkill. On the other hand, as our beloved MythBusters would say, there’s no kill like it.

Well, time to dig in, before it gets that much colder.

The curried chicken strudel is warm, inviting – and astonishingly mild. The gravy is yellow, and more in the Indian style than the Japanese, so I was afraid it was going to be problematically spicy, but no. Clearly, it’s been toned down for the German (right, Swiss) palate. There’s enough chicken to be satisfying, but not enough to cover the meal and of itself.

Thank heavens, then, that I also have this croque monsieur. I think Alton Brown referred to this a few years ago, translating the name to ‘Mr. Crunchy,’ which makes it sound so much more silly. Everything just sounds more sophisticated in French, doesn’t it?

Oddly enough, despite its name, it’s not as crunchy as you would think. The bottom piece of bread isn’t toasted at all – I honestly don’t know if that’s typical or not, but I’ll ding it just because of the name. It seems a little thin on the ham inside, too, but it’s certainly enough to taste, so I’ll grant it that. It’s the cheese on the top that gives it its name, and I will admit that it is crunchy, at least on the corners. It’s also reasonably tasty, especially for the price. I could’ve had a sausage roll and the calzone, too, and still have spent less then on any of the American breakfasts that room service brought up.

On the other hand, I have a basis of comparison for those; how the sausage roll would’ve fared against a good all-American hotdog, I don’t know. And the calzone, while it might’ve been an improvement on a hot pocket, probably wouldn’t stand up to the likes of Papa Saverio’s. Besides, I think my hunger is satisfied for now.

And a good thing too, as a gentleman from housekeeping pokes his head in the door. I’d like the room made up, but I’m going to need to clear out for them to do it. I let him know I’ll be out in a half an hour, and I’ll wrap things up with you for now.

For a moment, I worry that I’ve lost my mask, until I realize I pulled it off the bed when I grabbed my jacket. Whew.

I had been debating for the longest time as to what to do for a final meal here. I have considered the donner kebab, as that seems the late-night last-minute meal of choice for the chavs come chucking-out time. At the same time, I hadn’t had a pretzel while I was here; although that seems more like a rather large snack as opposed to a meal.

Yet another Migros between Claraplatz and Rheingasse, this one a five-story affair, claimed to have a restaurant on the top two floors, and I couldn’t resist. But after ascending three or four flat escalators (I don’t know what they’re called, but that’s all I can describe them as; they were flat rather than being a rising staircase, and they inclined upwards. I was the only rider who tried to walk on them), there was nothing at the end but sporting goods. All I could do was to give up.

This was the ride up, honey. If you can tell me what this is called, I’d sure like to know.

When I cut around the block, however, I found the other entrance, complete with elevators. So, this was how they got up there. I put my mask back on, wandered inside, and rang for the elevator.

The elevator was a glassed-in affair, so you could see outside if you were bold and faced away from the door. I rode with several others who seemed to have no objections to sharing the ride (despite regulations), but who got off at various earlier floors. Finally, I reached the top and got out.

The place wasn’t exactly empty, but there weren’t a lot of patrons there, either. Part of that had to do with the odd hour of the day, but also the fact that the foodservice area was completely deserted. Things appeared to be served buffet-style, and the descriptions gave me no indication what I might be getting into, assuming I could find someone to serve me whatever was there.

It was time for me to cut my losses, and go back to plan A instead.

Not that that was an easy plan to accomplish, either. I had seen several such places back in the Clarastrasse area; so I concluded it was best that I make my way back toward the hotel. But first, I took a turn away from Claraplatz, and down a circuitous series of side streets, until I came across such a place.

In fact, they offered an arrangement they called a Donner Box.

Basically, they shave the meat off the spit and set it on a grill for a moment to fry up. Then, they set half into the box, followed by a generous load of French fries, and top with the rest of the meat.

And no, I don’t know what meat it is. It’s lighter in both color and flavor than your traditional lamb, but I hate to use the old cliché and say it tastes like chicken. And yet, here we are. The fries, in particular, are hot and clearly fresh, and keep the rest of the assembly warm, even as I’m occupying myself typing this. I went as lightly on the toppings as I could: just a little bit of the yogurt sauce, onions and their special spicy sauce. Even as little a dose as he drizzled on there, this stuff has a kick.

Overall, it’s very good for fast food – and quite satisfying for the money (cheaper than my breakfast from the Co-op), but I don’t see why (other than perhaps no other alternatives being open) someone would choose to eat this after a serious bender; the spices, in combination with the hangover you’d get in the morning, would absolutely mess you up.

Then again, if you’re going to do something like that, you deserve everything you get.

And so, after that, I found myself toddling back to the hotel, to settle my bill and get started on an early sleep. Tomorrow is going to be a long and grueling day.

As always, honey, wish me luck; I’m going to need it.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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