An ad for the butchery Saumagen Paradies, in Trump’s ancestral German town of Kallstadt.
I do enjoy politics, if for nothing else than the ridiculous promises and rhetoric offered by candidates vying for nomination. Mr. Trump ridiculously promises that as president he would build a wall on the Mexican border and make Mexico pay for its construction. His promise continues as he proclaims he will prevent all Muslims from entering the country. He also would like to deport all illegal immigrants from this country. But what he forgets is that all of us descend from immigrants and the majority of us, including himself, descend from illegal immigrants. These were people running to our country, many illegally and without permission, for freedom and new opportunity, and who contributed to our growth and prosperity as a nation. The immigrant story is the most important story of our nation.
Trump’s grandfather, Friedrich Trump, was born in Germany in 1869 in the sleepy Palatinate village of Kallstadt. Many of its 1200 inhabitants have familial connections to Trump by blood or marriage. One villager, the very cute and blonde Simone Wendell, filmed a documentary about Trump, called The Kings of Karlstadt, travelling to New York to interview him, finding out how little he knew of his own ancestry. This is probably because Trump’s father denied his German ancestry and claimed they were from Sweden. This was because many of their customers after the second World War were Holocaust survivors.
Friedrich Trump, Donald’s illegal immigrant grandfather.
The other King of Kallstadt, by the way is, American condiment maven H. J. Heinz, whose ancestors donated money to preserve the pipe organ in the town’s spired old church. Unlike the Trumps, they have long lauded their connection to the village.
There is a well-known phrase in Kallstadt: ‘Before you put your mouth into gear, be sure to turn your brain on.’ Certainly the Don is not going to heed the advice of his ancestors. And, although the townsfolk in Kallstadt are not likely to heap praise on Mr. Trump, the mayor, in his 2106 New Year’s speech said, “No refusal of entry, either for refugees, or for Trump.”
In 1885, Friedrich Trump, the Don’s grandfather, leaving a note for his mother on the kitchen table, boarded a boat to escape taxes and military service, and settled in New York City, working as a barber for several years. In 1891, he moved to Seattle, Washington, and operated the “Poodle Dog” restaurant. Moving to the mining town of Monte Cristo, Washington, in 1894, the elder Trump operated another hotel. Hearing of the Klondike Gold Rush, he operated yet another hotel, catering to arriving gold hunters. Then moving in 1898 to Bennett, British Columbia, Canada, he opened the Artic hotel, which was also operated a brothel. No successful mining town would be without a brothel. In 1901, fearing a crackdown on prostitution and the end of the Gold Rush, Trump sold his investments and returned to Germany.
In Germany, Trump courted his next door neighbor, Elizabeth Crist, but was deported from Germany for skipping out on military service. Oops, now he’s an illegal! So he and Elizabeth came back to America and started a family in Queens, New York. Trump worked as a barber and restaurant owner, before dying in the 1918 flu epidemic. It was Trump’s grandmother Elizabeth and her two sons that started the real estate empire in New York into which Trump was born, and with which he went bankrupt several times. Trump’s illegal immigrant ancestor Friedrich, created the pillar on which he amassed his fortune. It’s quite a rags-to-riches story.
The Trump ancestral village, Kallstadt, is famous for two regional foods – its ice wine, which was served at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth I, and a favorite Palatinate peasant dish called saumagen. Donald Trump’s Grandfather’s family operated a vineyard there which fed into the local ice wine industry The village venerates the second dish, associated in Germany with peasant provinciality, with a yearly Saumagen Festival.
Former German chancellor Helmut Kohl, who came from the Palatinate, brought saumagen to international recognition. It was a favorite dish of his, which he served at state dinners to foreign dignitaries like Margaret Thatcher, Michail Gorbachev, Ronald Reagan, and even Bill Clinton. Kohl was often ridiculed for serving this unsophisticated hillbilly dish by Germans outside the Palatinate, but it gave him a sense of pride in his region.
Saumagen is an interesting dish that translated means ‘sow’s stomach’ and it is a close Germanic cousin to our goetta. Created in the 18th century by Palatinate farmers who used the leftovers of slaughter to make a new dish, it was a frugal food. Today the ingredients are not leftovers at all. German butchers today creating saumagen use very high-quality ingredients. It’s similar to goetta in that it’s a byproduct of pig slaughter, but it’s not a sausage, although it’s a stuffed casing, namely the pig’s stomach. And it’s not a gruetzwurst or grain sausage as goetta is, because it uses the starch of potatoes rather than pinhead oatmeal. The stuffing of potatoes, carrots, ground pork, onions and spices of marjoram, nutmeg, white pepper, and sometimes a variety of other spices like cloves, coriander or thyme, are stuffed into the pig stomach and then cooked in hot water below boiling point. The stomach is more meaty and muscley than a sausage casing, so in that sense saumagen might be considered more of a force-meat. But, like goetta, it is fully cooked in its casing, then pan-fried to finish. Forcemeats are not pan-fried, but rather sliced like a lunchmeat. Saumagen is similar to the Scottish haggis, but with a stuffing more similar to goetta, so it’s definitely on the same culinary family tree as our local favorite.
Soumagen before and after being pan-fried like goetta.
I certainly don’t want to make Trump any more likeable by revealing the connection to a more humble ancestry and a connection to our local goetta. And who knows if Friedrich Trump served saumagen in any of his hotels or restaurants. But it’s certainly a lesson that we don’t have to go back very far in our own ancestries to find the likeness of those we’re currently shunning from the American dream.