The Food Network show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” has popularized the notion that food treasures can exist in the humblest of structures. Fraulie’s is such a place.
Situated in a snug space, Fraulie’s German Delicatessen & Import Shop carries authentic, hard-to-find European favorites. Walking into the store from bustling Third Street in Lemoyne, customers are engulfed in flavors from the Old World, surrounded by German bread, cheeses, meats and sweets.
Margo Wutz, a native of Germany, has operated the store for 44 years, after she discovered that the previous owner planned to close it.
“I couldn’t see that we should close the only German source for our food,” she said.
She named it Fraulie’s after a term of endearment given to her by her daughter, Mimi.
In the beginning, Margo traveled in her VW Beetle to Philadelphia every week to pick up supplies. Sourcing goods isn’t so cumbersome now, she said.
The cold case is filled with German meats unfamiliar to most folks, like Alpine sausage, which contains sunflower seeds, carrots, peppers and poppy seeds. Another favorite, cervelat, tastes much like prosciutto but smokier. Also available are wiener sausages, bratwurst, salami and smoked ham.
Alongside the many types of meat sits a lovely, fragrant variety of cheeses, including Limburger, hand cheese and cambozola, which Mimi described as, “a cheese to die for—a cross between blue and brie.”
Bread lines the top of the deli case, heavy, dense loaves of Klosterbrot rye, sunflower seed rye and Black Forest rye. Margo said the first thing she noticed when she arrived in the United States was the bread.
“It was like cotton, had no substance,” she said.
More loaves, vacuum-sealed into solid cakes or “brick bread” as Mimi calls them, sit in a basket—muesli, pumpkin seed and linseed bread.
Customers can purchase these delicious choices to enjoy at home or they can order a sandwich to munch in the shop. A nice accompaniment is a hot cup from Kauffman’s Coffee, Tea & Spice Shop, just a threshold away.
What customers don’t have to purchase is the hospitality. Mimi described Fraulie’s as “the place where things slow down.”
The store has many regulars. One such customer arrived, and Mimi asked if he wanted “the usual” Landjäger or “hunter sausages.” He left with a bag and a hearty “auf wiedersehen” from the others in the store. Heidi Castle, friend and frequenter of Fraulie’s, said that Germans never say good-bye, but always “until we meet again.”
“This is where we come and get the things we are used to, love and want to continue the tradition of our food,” she said.
A 20-something Polish woman, Klaudia DeFrank, entered the store and gave the elder Wutz a warm hug. She said that, after coming from Poland four years ago, she was happy to find Fraulie’s.
“It feels so European in here,” she said.
Folks in the store are happy to share their knowledge of the food and its use.
Castle helped with one unique item called Back Oblaten, literally “bake thin wafer.” These small, round wafers, which resemble communion wafers, are used for baking. Cookie dough is scooped directly on the wafer and baked. It becomes a part of the cookie, with no sticking and no waste.
Mimi described some of the other, more distinctive items, such as “rollmops,” not the one used to clean the floor but marinated herring rolled around a pickle; sugar beet syrup, similar to molasses and eaten on bread; and head cheese, a gelatinous loaf containing pig head meat. It’s sliced and placed on sandwiches.
The jarred and canned items are popular at Christmas. Mustards in tubes make great stocking stuffers, interesting teas abound and jellies include rosehip, plum and gooseberry. Of course, there also are the famous German chocolates, marzipan and Haribo Gold-Bears.
Those who venture into this tiny shop either purposefully or serendipitously can savor a sandwich, try some uncommon delicacies, and experience the German culture.
“It’s just a fun place!” Margo said, summing it up.
Fraulie’s German Delicatessen & Import Shop is located at 224 S. Third St., Lemoyne. For more information, call 717-763-7616 or visit their Facebook page.