Airports are strange constructs: transitory, liminal spaces comprised of an endless assortment of escalators, tunnels and moving sidewalks inhabited by bewildered, sleep-deprived people. The glamour and intrigue of the 1950s Jet Age is a very distant memory and air travel in the 21st century is more akin to cattle herding than anything approaching luxury or opulence. We recently found ourselves with a few hours to kill during a layover at the Frankfurt airport where we encountered a rare treat: airport food that is both a local delicacy and extremely tasty. Despite widespread efforts to humanize airports by transforming them into shopping malls, the culinary offerings are typically limited to generic fast food that costs five times more than you would normally pay, and mediocre pub food. Which is why we were thrilled, and more than a little surprised, to discover Hermann’s Mobil food carts at the Frankfurt airport. These mobile outposts offer a delectable assortment of German sausages, soft pretzels and beer and are conveniently located throughout Frankfurt’s multiple terminals for easy access as you scramble to locate your gate.
An intoxicating, yeasty smell emanated from Hermann’s Mobil as we passed by, making it nearly impossible to ignore. Although we were clearly in the minority, we felt 10:30 am was a tad too early for sausages and beer so we opted for a pretzel, our favourite item of German cuisine, instead. The warm pretzel was expertly prepared with a caramel coloured, crispy exterior that gave way to a soft and chewy middle. The dough was yeasty and tangy with the perfect amount of coarse salt covering the lacquered crust. A sweet mustard accompanied the pretzel and the combination of the salty, tart dough and the saccharine dipping sauce hit the perfect balance and was extremely satisfying. While the pretzels and sausages are clearly the draw, we couldn’t help but be charmed by the crowds that gathered around these food carts, pints in hand, to consume their snacks. Amidst all the chaos and confusion, Hermann’s Mobil offers a moment of refuge, a place to pause and escape the stressful environment and share a beer and a pretzel with your fellow travellers.