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Strammer Max is a type of ham and egg sandwich that is popular as a snack food in German cuisine. These sandwiches are generally available in pubs, restaurants and street stalls, and are often consumed with beer. According to the Dictionary of the Upper Saxon Dialects, the term Strammer Max evolved in the 1920s as a Berlin street slang for an erect penis; in the German language, Strammer means erect or rigid, and the common German name Max was often used as a synonymous word for a penis. The ham sandwiches were thought to enhance the male libido and this is why they came to be referred to as Strammer Max; the sandwiches are also known as stiff Max or tight Max sandwiches.
There are various regional variations of the Strammer Max sandwiches, but the basic Strammer Max ingredients include rye bread, butter, ham, Swiss cheese, coarse salt, cayenne pepper, and eggs. To make the sandwiches, a little butter is melted in a pan and then a slice of rye bread is placed in the pan and lightly fried on both sides over medium heat. The toasted bread is then removed and thin slices of ham are fried in the pan next for a couple of minutes.
The fried ham slices are placed over the toasted rye bread and set aside. The eggs are then fried in the pan and placed on the ham and bread. A slice of Swiss cheese is added to the stack and the sandwich is then placed in the pan for a few more minutes. The pan may be covered with a lid to allow the cheese to melt well.
After the cheese has melted, the heat is turned off, the sandwich is transferred to a plate, and salt and cayenne pepper are sprinkled over the melted cheese. The hot Strammer Max sandwich is now ready to be eaten. In addition to the Strammer Max ingredients already mentioned, there can be various other additions, although these were not part of the original recipe.
Cheese and tomato are sometimes used in these sandwiches. Another variation is the Strammer Otto, which uses roast beef instead of ham. In Bavaria, instead of ham slices, the Strammer Max sandwiches contain potatoes and Leberkase slices; Leberkase is a baked meat dish made from a well-ground combination of onions, pork, bacon and corned beef.
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