Nothing says fall for me like chestnuts do. On my way to school as a first grader I filled my pockets with them on crisp October mornings, a habit I continued as an adult. Those were the inedible chestnuts from the horse chestnut tree, Aesculus hippocastanum.
The best moment for me was always taking the chestnuts out of their thick, fleshy burrs and let the cool fruit with a surface like polished mahogany slowly warm in my cusped hand. After a few days the chestnuts lost their luster but how many times until then did I run my fingers over them and marvel at their color before the chestnuts eventually shriveled and hardened and I had to discard them with a heavy heart.
This is a preview of German Cuisine: For the Love of Chestnuts.
Finding your people quickly is key to settling into a new place. Particularly if you are an English-speaking someone who moves to a country with a new language, maybe even on a new continent. The language barrier can make finding your tribe hard. Maybe you can’t figure out what words to google to find the people you think you’d like to hang out with, or maybe you can’t speak “normally” (fluently, or as you would in your native language).
This is a preview of Reading Science Fiction in Germany: Finding Your Tribe.
I’m just going to tell you how it was. This week, we rented a car with three friends from Berlin and went on a little holiday adventure to the Harz. Stories about this stunning part of Germany will follow soon, but on our journey we needed a pit-stop. Basically, I needed a wee. Ahem.
A sign said Magdeburg City was just ahead, so we left the Autobahn and headed into what can only be described as a super ugly town. All the buildings were cement-grey blocks, no trees aligned the streets and there was building work all over the place.
This is a preview of Travel in Germany: How Long to Spend in Magdeburg?.
I was born in Frankfurt and spent the first 18 years of my life there. But, I never quite identified with the city as my hometown. My parents were both transplants from somewhere else. Except for the ubiquitous Frankfurter sausages, I rarely ate typical Frankfurt foods growing up. Some of them I even dreaded, in particular Handkäse, the pungent sour milk cheese usually marinated with oil, vinegar, onions and caraway.
Frankfurt’s signature drink, Apfelwein (apple wine), was a different story. My parents always had a case in the basement. It would have never occurred to me to refer to it in Frankfurt vernacular as Äppelwoi or Stöffche. In that respect, I always remained an outsider. I learned foreign languages without much difficulty but was never able to pronounce a single sentence in authentic Frankfurt or Hessian dialect.
This is a preview of German Cuisine: Hungry for Handkäs.