Tag Archives: German food

Wordless Wednesday: Set for Coffee

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15 March 2017 · 08:14

Stuttgart: a Brief Photo Collage

I just spent another couple of weeks in Germany on a short family visit. Just to catch you up, here’s a few pictures of Stuttgart in February (mouse over the photos for captions, or click on one for a slide show):

 

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Wordless Wednesday: After Breakfast

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3 February 2016 · 08:31

Holiday Slide Show, Part 3

Slide holder is changed. Here goes the rest. (Yes, lil’ Joey, Aunty A. is almost done; then you can go out and play. I brought you a chocolate from Germany; you can at least have the good manners to sit through my slide show, can’t you? Oh, fine, here, have some more gummibears.)

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We went on a train. That’s how fast it went. Yup. You think the Autobahn is fast? ICE trains leave those cars in the dust.

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This is the lovely little town of Wetzlar, in Hesse (central Germany). The town centre is almost unchanged from 240 years ago, when the young Goethe visited here – a visit which inspired him to write his runaway bestseller “The Sorrows of Young Werther”.

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You barely need any imagination to see Goethe walking through these streets. Do away with the cars, add a few powdered wigs and pannier dresses, and you’re in the late 18th century.

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Fachwerk – half-timbering. Isn’t this beautiful?

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And THIS is the Lottehaus, the very house where Goethe met Charlotte Buff, the original of the Lotte in the book with whom Werther falls in love. (DESPERATELY. Clutch hair, press wrist to forehead. I mean, emo isn’t even in it.) The Werther story is almost entirely autobiographical – however, those aspects end, obviously, before Werther blows his brains out (Goethe survived to a good old age). That part was modelled on the suicide of a guy named Jerusalem, which happened in the red-beamed house on the far right of the above picture.

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I was fascinated by the slate tiles on the roofs – so different from the red clay tiles which dominate in Southern Germany. Sometimes the whole side of the house is tiled in these, arranged in fancy patterns. Incidentally, this is the roof of the Lottehaus.

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Germans have their ducks in a row.

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Pretty flower being pretty.

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The Cathedral in Wetzlar. There’s a story here too, but I’ll tell you that some other time.

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This is how Germans celebrate birthdays. Kaffee und Kuchen (coffee and cake) is a meal in its own right, and you can see here why. Mind you, that’s not a daily or even weekly occurrence, just for special occasions. But then you pull out all the stops. Oh, and all those cakes are homemade.

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In a field on the edge of town: Flowers, 50 cents. In other words, you drop half a Euro into the little box on the post, and help yourself to a sunflower bouquet (a knife to cut it is provided as well). Gotta love it.

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Warnings in the commuter train on the way back to the airport: Don’t Eat Bananas. Don’t Listen to Music Off-Key. And above all, Do NOT Play the Accordion! I thought y’all needed to see that; who knows, it might prevent disaster.

Chick-chook, and there’s that last slide. Turn on the lights in the room, yawn and pretend you hadn’t dozed off half-way through. These were just the highlights, anyway – I spared you the other 790 pictures I could have inflicted on you as well; aren’t you grateful?

And that, folks, was Life, the Universe, and What I Did On My Holidays. Thanks for listening!

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Holiday Slide Show, Part 2

Okay, the second slide holder is in. Lights off, here we go (chick-chook):

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Palaces aren’t the only buildings that were dripping with gilding and marble in the Baroque. This is the Abbey Church of Fürstenfeld, outside of Munich, which was one of the strongholds of the Counter Reformation. They pulled out all the stops to convince the people that the Catholic church was worth sticking with. Speaking of pulling out all the stops, we got to hear an organ concert here – it was fantastic.

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Yes, that’s a dead guy. A 1900-year-old dead guy, to be precise – St. Hyacinth, who starved to death at the age of 12 around the year 100 AD because he refused to eat meat that had been sacrificed to idols. You can tell that his weight loss program was effective. But at least he got impressive duds out of the deal, even if it was a millennium or two after the fact.

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Munich has several world famous art museums. I took the time out to visit the Neue Pinakothek, which holds a selection of 19th-century art – well, from the late 18th century to the early 20th. I was thrilled to find that there were several pieces by Angelica Kauffmann – for example, this, her most famous self-portrait. She’s got to be awesome with a name like that, no?

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Moritz von Schwind, “The Fairy Tale of Cinderella”. Probably my most favourite piece in the whole collection… (sorry, Vincent van Gogh).

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Cinderella tries on the shoe.

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One of the labels in the frame.

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Fernand Khnopff, “I Close the Door Upon Myself”. There’s something about this chick’s eyes that I find kind of creepy, in a rather awesome way.

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Klimt, “Margaret Stoneborough-Wittgenstein”. My favourite of all the famous pieces there.

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A German supper: at least three different kinds of bread, cheeses, meats, tomatoes, stuffed peppers… I miss it. Can I go back?

Another slide holder change…

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Holiday Slide Show, Part 1

I’ve been trying to think of witty things to say about this trip which Steve and I just got back from. Erudite things, informative ones – but I can’t really come up with anything. So I think I’ll just show you a few pictures, and you can decide yourself what you think of it all.

Imagine yourself in my living room, the blinds drawn, a slide projector set up, and the painting of the West Coast taken off its hook so I can project my pictures against its spot on the white wall. (That, dear children, is why they call it a ‘slide show’ when you put pictures in consecutive order to show to people. It’s how folks back in the dark ages, ca. 1975, shared their holiday experiences with friends, family, and other unsuspecting victims. Depending on the liveliness of the presenter, one was rather apt to want to fall asleep – the darkened room didn’t help. However…)

So here goes, the first slide (chick-chook goes the slide projector):

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Air Canada Jazz planes looking decorative at the Calgary airport, where we switched from a little cloud hopper like this (I think ours had a yellow leaf on in) to one of the big jets.

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Munich, Marienplatz. The towers in the background are those of the Frauenkirche (Our Lady’s Church), the icon of Munich. This is the Fussgängerzone (pedestrian zone), which is roughly speaking a giant outdoor mall. I love Fussgängerzonen. Stroll around on the city streets, with no cars to get in your way – it’s the best shopping and hanging-out-in-the-city experience ever.

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Munich City Hall. What everyone is staring at is the Glockenspiel, the musical bells, where a bunch of little puppet guys pop out of the tower and do a dance. It’s sort of half-way up the tower.

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Weisswurst and a Brezel at the Viktualienmarkt (victuals market) in Munich. They’re an institution. Oh, and Weisswurstsenf – a special sweet mustard which is mandatory to eat with Weisswurst.

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View over the Marienplatz through the ancient window panes of the toy museum.

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Nymphenburg, the baroque summer palace of the kings of Bavaria.

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I did say baroque, didn’t I?

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A selfie the old-fashioned way. The green bed in the background is where Ludwig II of Bavaria was born (the royal nut bar who built Neuschwanstein, that Disneyland castle that Americans are all so terribly fond of).

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Nymphenburg was, and still is, the site of a world-famous porcelain manufactury. These are from the 18th century, by Bustelli (I think). They’re no more than 20cm (8″) high; the detail is astounding.

Excuse me while I change the slide holder. Anybody want another drink of Spezi (cola-orange pop mix) or Apfelschorle (apple juice spritzer) while I do that? No?

To be continued…

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Gingerbread!

Lebkuchen (1)Except, I lie. Not one speck of ginger, fresh or dried, has come near these goodies. They are, in fact, genuine, honest-to-goodness German Lebkuchen. Yes, I know, I know, over here we call them gingerbread. So be it – as long as you keep in mind that ginger plays no part in it.

It’s a new recipe I tried from a cookbook I’ve had for a long time, and I’m very pleased with it. It tastes exactly like Lebkuchen should.  Except for the texture – boughten Lebkuchen, the ones from Nuremberg (which is famous for them), are soft and kind of chewy, more of a cake texture; these things that I baked today went rock-hard once they cooled off, kind of like biscotti. I guess they’re dunkers. Put on a pot of Glühwein (mulled wine), or if you don’t want the booze, some spiced soft cider, and you’re in business. Aaah.

Lebkuchen (3)It’s the quintessential Christmas goodie, loaded with ingredients that for Germans are exotic imports, because they can’t be grown in north-central Europe. Almonds, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg – things that come from the south.

And now they’re going into the cookie tin, the big one with the rounded lid, which years ago came in a Christmas parcel, filled with the real chocolate-glazed Nürnberger Lebkuchen. Of course, it’s the tin for keeping those gingerbread cookies in – just look at the picture on the lid!Lebkuchen (2) It shows exactly that kind of cookie, almonds and all. Baked by friendly little dwarfs, no less, who get the nuts from a squirrel family, take them home to their dwarfs’ cottage, bake them into gingerbread, and then take some back to the squirrels to share.

And just so you can share, too (maybe not with squirrels, but I’m sure you’ve got some friends who might be into it) here’s the recipe:

ALMOND LEBKUCHEN
***
4 eggs
250g sugar
400g flour
1 tsp baking powder
400g ground whole almonds
100g mixed candied peel
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp each cloves, nutmeg and allspice
***
1 egg yolk
80 blanched almonds
***
Beat the eggs with the sugar until foamy. Sift together flour and baking powder, mix with almonds and spices. Stir into the eggs and sugar, knead together into a firm dough. Wrap dough in tin foil or parchment paper; put in the fridge (or on your sub-zero-temperature deck) for two hours to rest.
Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Roll dough on floured surface to 1cm thickness. Cut into 40 even-sized squares; put on a cookie sheet. Beat the egg yolk with a little bit of water. Brush squares with egg wash, decorate with one almond half in each corner (I used sliced almonds instead). Bake on the centre rack of the oven for 20 minutes or until light brown. Cool on racks. Store in Lebkuchen tin with pictures of friendly dwarfs on the outside. Defend from marauding family members so a few cookies are left until Christmas.

And as a bonus, here’s how I make Glühwein and/or mulled cider:
MULLED WINE/CIDER
1 bottle of red wine, or 1 litre of apple juice
1 cinnamon stick
about half a dozen whole cloves
if using wine, about 1/4 c sugar (or more, to taste)
***
Put all ingredients together in a slow cooker or a pot on low heat. Simmer anywhere from 1hr to all afternoon. Serve in mugs. Perfect while shopping at the Christmas market with snow drifting down on you, or perhaps while going carolling. Or just for sitting by the fireside and dunking gingerbread into.

There you are. Life, the Universe, Gingerbread and Mulled Wine. Wassail!

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