Tote Oma is German for Dead Gramma. The dish is homely… essentially a dark, reddish-brown porridge next to a pile of potatoes. The basis for dead gramma is thüringer rotwurst- a German blood sausage affectionately known as the queen of blood sausages, in some circles, where that’s a title to be handed out.
Thuringer rotwurst is blood, a mixture of pork meats, both muscle and organ, marjoram, and warming spices. It belongs to the tradition of “schlatteplatte” (slaughter plate), or foods that where prepared and consumed directly after a slaughter, due to perishability. Schlatteplatte was a dish of sauerkraut and meats, not dissimilar to the french chacroutegarnie.
Tote Oma is not schlatteplatte. Tote Oma is this amazing, comforting, not at all sour thing that you begrudgingly put in your mouth for the first time, skepticism keeping the first bite politely small, before you are won over. Then…it’s gone.
Let us discuss the consumption of blood. Many cultures have a strong taboo against the consumption of blood, and especially in America, where we over-value muscle meat and mostly discard offal, it has become especially rare…save in obscure ethnic or fine dining experiences. But offal is not to be underestimated nutritionally, and blood especially has been historically highly prized by everyone from the Vietnamese, to the Masaai, to the Irish.
According to Fitbit’s nutritional profiles, 100 grams of blutwurst contains 376 calories, and 36% of your suggested daily iron intake. It also boasts high percentages of zinc, B vitamins like niacin, some copper, and a respectable amount of fat and protein.
It isn’t an every day kind of food. It’s the kind of food you eat when your body needs extra help, or when you’re about to do something incredibly taxing…like set out on a mountain climb, or perform heavy manual labor. It’s the kind of food that was rare even for our ancestors to consume, because it was restricted by availability based on seasonal slaughters. It falls into a gastronomy of cycles where some foods are special because they are powerful and rare.
Of course now, you can get it whenever.
1 small, 10- 15 oz Thüringer Rotwurst
2 large onions
4 large cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons of fresh thyme, chopped
butter or pork fat for sauté, 1 tablespoon or less
The skin on thüringer rotwurst is a beef casing, and inedible. Using a small knife, open the casing and remove the sausage inside. Roughly chop.
Finely chop your onions and peel and mince your garlic.
Over medium meat, melt your sauté fat, and add the onions and garlic. Cover them and let them become slightly translucent.
Remove the cover, and continue to sauté until the onions are slightly browning. They look as if they may carmelize at any moment. Their flavor is sweet and concentrated.
Add the rotwurst and mix it in with the onions. It will loose it’s shape as the heat gets to the fat, and become a generally unappealing sludge. You’re on the right track. Bear with me here.
Add your thyme and continue cooking until everything is concentrated and well melded.
Serve with potatoes (boiled, baked, fried…) and a side of fresh pickles.