emergency supplies

The Panic Buyer's Michelin Guide

Young woman messing around in supermarket
Dining in.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    After the German government suggested that citizens stockpile enough food for 10 days, in order to ensure survival in a disaster, many locals made fun of the civil defense plan. But Berlin-based chef, Tobias Jansen, took the survivalist’s menu more seriously.

  • Facts


    • Excerpts from a new 76-page Civil Defense Concept were leaked this week and the text included advice on which supplies to have at home in order to survive for ten days in a disaster.
    • The concept was to replace outdated guidelines from 1995 and encompassed emergency electricity for government authorities, evacuations and communications.
    • The list of useful foods to have included wholemeal bread, sauerkraut, corn, mushrooms, jars of cherries, apricots and pears. Alongside water, people were also advised to buy 250 grams of instant coffee, lemon juice and milk.
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Advice that citizens should stockpile food as part of an emergency plan led to controversy, panic – and a hunt for new recipes.

Mid-week, excerpts of a “Civil Defense Concept” were leaked, a 76-page document laying out how the country should be prepared for emergencies.

The text included advice for people to have supplies at home for 10 days, along with a flashlight, in the case of catastrophe whether a cyber-attack, terrorism or war. The move updated emergency guidelines dating back to 1995 and encompassed emergency electricity for government authorities, evacuation planning and a communication network.

The government listed food that citizens themselves might store at home, as alongside stores of rice, condensed milk and pulses, people would need their own goods. The list isn’t brand new but it got cooks thinking what people might do with their rations of cherries, sauerkraut and coffee powder over a fourteen day period to keep things lively.

The list includes two pounds of wholemeal bread, 700 grams of sauerkraut, 400 grams of corn and mushrooms, and jars of cherries, apricots and pears. Alongside water, people are advised to buy 250 grams of instant coffee, some lemon juice and 3 liters of milk. To round off the list, there’s butter, eggs, tinned sardines and liver sausage. And a can opener.

Carpaccio of corned beef with sauerkraut jelly, a pesto of sultanas, prunes and hazelnuts or asparagus with canned fish: The possibilities for fine survivalist dining were endless.

The list sent many rushing to discount supermarkets. It triggered memories of post war years when people huddled in kitchens they heated using the stove, handily cooking pasta on the top. Others asked themselves how to keep eggs fresh in advance – would they have to keep eating them and replacing them with fresh ones? Thank goodness jars of pickled red cabbage stay good for two years or more.

While some citizens thought they would nip up to their neighbors’ place to cook up their rations if they were unsure what to make of them. Others sought advice from Tobias Jansen, a Berlin-based cook who runs a restaurant, Jolesch, for Austrian specialties. While Mr. Jansen is known for the selection of wines and brandies he offers, he had several ideas for what to make of the supplies.

“Carpaccio of corned beef, sauerkraut jelly and a pesto of sultanas, prunes and hazelnuts,” he proposed. Another day, perhaps, people could eat liver fried in oats accompanied by red cabbage salad and roasted hazelnuts, and a bean and pear salad with toasted salami.

The government’s plan was widely made fun of and many on Twitter said it would trigger panic buying. But Mr. de Maizière dismissed the mockery and said the proposals promoted good planning; anyway Mr. Jansen had more suggestions.

Maybe a goulash of potatoes and sausages would be a solid main meal. Another day dinner could be noodle gratin with peas. His menu seemed endless: asparagus with canned fish, or noodles with onion sauce, or a poached egg with red beet and mashed potatoes.

He didn’t skimp on dessert, either. Mr. Jansen proposed “kaiserschmarrn,” a little like French toast, accompanied by coffee cherries. For variety’s sake, perhaps milk noodles with bananas, he added, saying that it could be a problem if everybody showed up at his place with cans in case of a catastrophe, hoping for ideas.

Even for those who are not professional cooks, there are plenty of possibilities, according to the expert. Breakfast and supper could be covered by alternating zwieback or wholemeal bread with margarine and salami, or crisp bread with hard cheese and butter, and instant coffee with long-life milk. In the first few days, maybe an apple or an orange too – these are also on the list.

The question of whether the power is on would determine whether to cook pasta or eat something cold. Some wondered why the list didn’t include a can of tomatoes. But corn oil, a couple of salami cubes and a handful of mushrooms might make for a solid midday meal, rounded off with cherries for dessert. He suggested saving the juice from the jar for a fruit drink at breakfast the following day.

Power-less suppers might be canned fish on bread, using the sauce, in place of butter happily. Or canned ravioli, eaten cold, in the worst case scenario – some people like it that way even without a catastrophe.

Some of Mr. Jansen’s ideas included ingredients on the optional section on the government’s list, such as a jar of jam or a bar of chocolate.

And in a country where asparagus is revered, he suggested saving the jar of white spears for Sundays.

Regrettably, he noted, there’s no flour on the list, otherwise another possibility would be pancakes, sprinkled either with sultanas or canned mandarines.

This article originally appeared in Tagesspiegel. To contact the author: redaktion@tagesspiegel.de

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