Brats Boiled in Beer, with German mustard

Inspired by my friend Amei. Thanks!

Grandmother Lazybones looked out the window of her cottage and sighed. Not for the first time, either.

It had been a long day, and she was hungry. There was, however, nothing in the cupboard to eat. Which meant it was time to go out and get something. Being lazy, she liked to know what she was going to get before she left the house, since it made shopping easier. Thus, she withdrew her recipe book from the shelf and flipped idly through the pages, waiting for inspiration to strike.

And strike it did, like the axe of a woodsman cutting off a head. “Brats boiled in beer, with grilled onions and dark German mustard on a roll,” she muttered aloud as she gazed at the recipe there on the open page. She sucked on her teeth as she considered it for a moment before nodding firmly to herself. It was decided.

“Let us see, let us see,” she stood from the stool she was sitting on and began to wander the kitchen, pacing as she planned out her shopping trip. “There are onions in the garden, so that’s ok. I need the roll, the mustard, and of course the brats. I think I have some beer left over from last October. Let us see, let us see.” She went to the cold cellar and looked inside. Sure enough, an entire keg of good, dark German beer left from last Octoberfest. Wait, was it Octoberfest? Were they doing that yet? Well in any event, she had beer and she had onions. Time to go shopping.

She put on her best shawl and strode to the small living-room. Settling herself on her favorite chair, she commanded, “Turn your front to the village and walk and walk and walk.” The cottage lurched, as if in an earthquake, but Grandmother Lazybones was expecting that and she held on to the arms of her favorite chair tightly. The cottage swayed slightly side to side as it walked through the forest, and Grandmother Lazybones, lulled by the motion, took herself a little nap.

When she awoke, it was late afternoon and a village was seen through the window. She slowly rose to her feet, trying to ignore the popping of her joints. “I’m getting old,” she thought. Not for the first time, either.

Slipping out the door, she turned to her cottage and said, “Turn your back to me, and your face to the forest.” As she turned to begin the short trip into the village, the door vanished behind her. With the ease of long practice, she stepped aside just as three riders thundered past: one on a white horse, one on a red, and one on a horse as black as pitch. “Hooligans,” she muttered irritably.

Arriving at the village, she paused and sniffed deeply. The smell of bread, baked that morning but still fresh enough, drifted to her from a bakery in the center of town, and so there she trudged, a-grumbling all the way. The bell over the door jingled merrily as she pushed her way inside. The baker’s wife was a plump, cheerful woman with red, round cheeks and a pleasant smile. “Welcome, Grandmother,” she said politely in German, and Grandmother Lazybones smiled that she was in the right place. “What can I get you this fine afternoon?”

“Two rolls, if you please,” Grandmother Lazybones asked in her old voice like the creaking of a door in an abandoned house. “Nice, plump rolls for some nice plump brats I intend to boil in beer and eat with onions and mustard.”

“Ooh, I have just the thing,” the baker’s wife smiled as she stood on a small stool to reach the high shelf. “And we have mustard too, if you need some.”

“I do,” Grandmother Lazybones smiled, her sharp, rotting teeth visible for a moment before she hid them away again. “I will have a pot of that also. I don’t suppose you have any brats?”

The baker’s wife set the rolls on the counter and began wrapping them in paper. “Oh no,” she said with a shake of her head, “We’re a bakers, not a butchers. You can try up the road, Herr Sweinbaur has been known to make bratwurst from time to time.” She set the pot of mustard next to the paper-wrapped bundle and said, “That will be 2 coins, if you please.”

“That’s not what I…” the old crone trailed off with a shake of her head. “Never mind, it doesn’t matter. Here are your coins,” she handed the baker’s wife two bits of rock from the road outside. The baker’s wife smiled and thanked her, and wished her well. The bell over the door jingled merrily as Grandmother Lazybones left the shop.

“Now, about those brats,” she sucked on her teeth for a moment. “Well, no help for it. I’m too tired and too old to be wandering all over town, I’ll just have to make my meat come to me.” She began to trundle back to her cottage, dropping bits of dirt as she walked and each bit of dirt became a glazed cookie when it hit the ground.

Arriving at her cottage again, she told it firmly, “Turn your back to the forest and your face to me!”  Grudgingly the door appeared and she smacked the the jamb as she stepped through. The cottage shook slightly in response. Grandmother Lazybones stood for a moment, her hand on the wall, and she muttered to herself. “Walls of gingerbread, shingles of icing. Windows of sugared glass and frost of peppermint creme. House of wonder, childhood’s dream.” Then she went inside the gingerbread walls and set her bundle on the table. She looked out the sugared glass windows with their dusting of peppermint creme ice, and waited for her meat to come to her.

“Oh, goodness me,” Grandmother Lazybones shook her head in annoyance at her forgetful ways. “I almost forgot to put the beer on to warm.” Down into the cold cellar she went to bring back the keg of beer. She poured a couple of gallons into the big cauldron over the fire, and banked the blaze to keep the beer warm but not yet boiling. Soon, the house smelled pleasantly of hops and barley.

Voices from outside distracted her from her musings, and Grandmother Lazybones glanced out the rock sugar window. Two children, blond of hair and blue of eye and red of cheek, came skipping up the road towards her cottage. They would stop every few yards, alternating as they bent over to pick up this bit of cookie or that sweetmeat, and pop them between their fleshy lips. Fingers were sucked noisily as they skipped onto the next treat.

Suddenly one, the girl, saw the cottage and gasped. “Hans, look!” she cried, pointing at the fairy-tale confection house. They turned to look at each other and desire shone in their eyes. They darted forward as one and began to rip pieces of the house off with their greedy, grubby little hands. Grandmother Lazybones smiled inside and waited.

Soon, the voices of the two children grew sluggish. The children, stuffed to the gills on sweets, leaned against the wall under the window to take a nap.

Later still, as Grandmother Lazybones stirred the cauldron filled with beer and two plump brats, she sucked on her teeth and thought about the wonderful meal to come. Soon, she would suck the succulent flesh from bones and wash it down with good, dark beer.

Not for the first time, either.



Filed under Short, Words words words - Writing and books

5 responses to “Brats Boiled in Beer, with German mustard

  1. Mike, oh my goodness! I was expecting a sinister twist (as you mentioned on my blog), but still -the way you wove the story, it was a delight to read -and very believable. The baker’s wife not flinching at the request for brats -the magic throughout (love the walking house). A vivid visionary delight -it’s certainly very different from my tale. I love it!

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