This website has been quiet over the summer–my family took a vacation in rural Holland, Prague, and mostly Leipzig, Germany. (We swapped houses for a month with a Leipzig family.) One day, while driving through Leipzig’s industrial district, I noticed a food stand called Gulaschcanone Leipzig. The menu, which was painted on the outside wall so you could read it while stopped at the traffic light, featured “chili con carne.” I pulled our rented Renault over and checked it out.
In a parking lot, there were some picnic tables outside of a large tent that held the food stall. Parked halfway in and halfway out of the tent was an unusual-looking Army surplus trailer with a wood-fired stove that heated three huge covered kettles. The olive drab-painted trailer had large wheels so it could be pulled behind a military truck just like a mobile artillery piece. German soldiers nicknamed this kind of mobile kitchen a Gulaschcanone, or “goulash canon,” hence the name of the food stall.
Gulaschcanone Leipzig was owned by a young entrepreneur named Ken Weber, it had been in operation since 2006. This week’s menu included Erbseneintopf mit Kassler (pea soup with ham), Soljanka (Eastern European sour and spicy soup)–next week Chili Con Carne was the special. I asked if there was any chili I could taste, but Weber apologized that he didn’t have any. “Come back next week,” he said. But alas, I was on my way home by then.
His chili recipe was pretty simple, he told me. Ground beef cooked with garlic, then tomatoes and tomato paste, red kidney beans and white kidney beans, and for the heat a healthy dose of the bottled Indonesian pepper paste called sambal olek. Surprisingly, the one thing Ken Weber never cooked in his goulash canon was goulash. Everybody and their grandma cooks goulash in Germany–chili con carne sounds much more exotic.
On the flight back to Houston, my wife asked me what new insights I was taking home. I told her I wanted to get one of those goulash canons. I want to tow a BBQ trailer and a Goulash Canon one behind the other from the back of the new dually pick-up truck I have been meaning to buy.