Provisions: German Gourmet

With almost two dozen varieties of brats and plenty of Deutschland kitsch, this market stays relevant after more than 50 years in business.

Photos by Aaron Spicer

That’s not an accordion. It’s Thursday lunchtime and Silvia Eberly plays the steirische harmonika, with the same pleats, but with buttons instead of a keyboard, for the half-dozen people eating sandwiches of cheeses and meats. Mike Haene works the aisles, greeting decades-old customers and instructing staff to move the tin of spaetzle over a half-inch, making sure it’s aligned correctly in the cold case.

German Gourmet has been around for over 55 years, with Haene and his brother Cliff as its owners since 1997, selling goods from Germany, Austria, Scandinavia and Switzerland (that’s where the Haene family hails).

Almost every item is brought in to this packed space in Falls Church, save for a handful of housemade treats (Swiss nut bar, poppy sable, Prussians) and sides (sauerkraut, carrot salad, cold-cut based fleisch). The meat case, with goods sourced from stateside, European-style butchers, is the prize, stocked with 20 different kinds of brats and the true cold cuts of the region, celebrating the heads, hooves, tongues and blood with saure salze, thuringer blutwurst and zungenwurst. There’s also luxurious Black Forrest prosciutto, smoky and salty in its thin, wispy ribbons. Next door is cheese, with the German tilsiter and butterkase, plus multiple styles of Swiss. Of course there are a dozen brands of mustard, some in jars, some in tubes and some in glasses shaped like beer steins, plus curry ketchup, jams, jellies, preserves and honey. Knorr mixes help create instant dishes of paprika-gulasch, wiener schnitzel and schmorbraten.

There’s no dearth in indulgences, with multiple rows of chocolates and candies and a whole section dedicated to mostly German wines and beers. The kitsch is strong too, with flags, T-shirts, steins and other Deutschland paraphernalia , plus a small selection of imported lotions, soaps and perfumes. Though there are plenty of specialty, modern, twee food markets, there are not many dedicated to this particular population of European immigrants and their nostalgic offspring. “I’m about the last one left,” says Haene. // 5838 Columbia Pike, Falls Church

(March 2018)