Michele Roberts finds fulfilment in Munich's food markets

True fulfilment is found not in heaven, but in Munich's food markets

Catholics eat God at Mass. In Munich, that centre of Bavarian Catholicism, you can eat angels. First you stamp them out in dough and then you devour them. The craft shop in the market was displaying biscuit moulds. The angel-shaped ones were irresistible. I brought several home and have been experimenting ever since with angels that taste of cinnamon and ginger.

I had given some lectures at the university. We talked about writing poetry and novels out of a wish to cherish the joyful, suffering, ecstatic human body, so maligned by the ancient split that elevates spiritual hungers above physical ones. I don't need Holy Communion to afford me heavenly delight. I want earthy, grounded artists cooking up new linguistic and tactile recipes, exploring what kindness to the body might actually mean. Not something you buy, but something you give and share. After these passionate discussions, guess what, we ate. The professor who had invited me provided wine, frittatas and ham canapes for everybody. A student brought in chocolates he had made himself. Just like the Symposium, really.

On my last morning, I saluted the local saints and madonnas in a quick church crawl. Then it was off to the enormous market behind the Marienplatz. Entering, one contemplated mountains of sausages, salami and smoked ham. The kindly butchers offered tastes of delicacies on the tips of knives. Strings of red chillies swagged the vegetable displays. The breads, twists and knots and bracelets, glistened with different seeds. The black rye bricks built ramparts around the egg-glazed wheat loaves. I tasted the local version of Camembert, mixed with red onions and paprika. I watched coffee beans pouring from the spouts of china barrels painted with flower designs.

At 10am, just before leaving for the airport, I bought wooden spoons. Small ones, for scooping boiled eggs out of saucepans, and big pierced ones, for lifting spaghetti. Any excuse would do. When in doubt, buy another wooden spoon.

My best purchase was a tin of white (veal) sausages, the local delicacy. They are so fresh, so lacking in preservatives, that you have to eat them in the morning, in case they go off. The Professor explained: the white sausages must not hear the church bells ringing noon. You poach them briefly and gently. Obviously, as I would arrive back in England well after noon, I could not carry fresh sausages with me. But the tin, and the accompanying pot of sweet mustard, did me proud when two friends came to lunch the following day.

The Professor had instructed me: the best way to eat the white sausage is to suck it, but genteel people use a knife and fork and slit it open lengthwise. Sucking worked perfectly well.

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