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For Thanksgiving 2013, I made an all-German menu from my cookbook: Roasted Duck Stuffed with Rum-soaked Raisins and Apples, Potato Dumplings, and Spiced Red Cabbage.
I usually do not like cabbage yet a while ago I decided it was time to take my cabbage dislike head-on. With very few exceptions like okra and celery root, I have always loved vegetables. The more I am centering my cooking around vegetables from my own garden and locally grown, seasonal produce, the less it seemed excusable to avoid an entire vegetable family. Putting a cabbage dish on the Thanksgiving table was part of my self-designed aversion training.
This is a preview of German Cuisine: Warming Up to Cabbage.
I’m not a perfect guardian and I was a bad au pair. My temper ran short and my cooking skills didn’t exist and all I wanted to do was go out in Berlin, dance, ride my bike, and talk to boys. But I was an au pair. So I had to work.
I went out in the mornings and late at night and made it, somehow, in time every day to pick Jason up from the Kita, but sometimes we were tired and rode the trains. Sometimes we were rushed and ate french fries. We watched movies. Sometimes I was so frustrated and tired of the six year old who couldn’t take care of himself and followed me around all day and needed to be read bedtime stories, so sometimes at night I just closed his curtains and closed his door and then closed my door, too.
This is a preview of An Au Pair’s Story: The Ups and the Downs.
There’s an old German Coca-Cola sign hanging in my parents’ kitchen. It’s little more than a knickknack from a dusty antique store, but as I prepare for my flight to Berlin tomorrow I can’t help but draw some greater meaning.
The advertisement is nothing if not an American symbol. Yet with the German words “trink” and “eiskalt” we see a fusion of two cultures. The Coca-Cola logo, in its all-too-familiar trademarked cursive, suddenly seems foreign. And isn’t that exactly what my upcoming year in Berlin is all about?
This is a preview of One Year in Berlin: So Long, America.
My knowledge of German history is piecemeal. This is not due to lack of interest. In my high-school days the State of Hessia had done away with history as an independent subject of study and blended it with geography, political science, and social studies. A court later ruled that the State Government had to revoke its curriculum – too late for me when I graduated in 1984.
This is a preview of German Cuisine: The King’s Dessert.
In the last decade, two edible wild, or semi-wild, plants have seen a huge comeback in Germany: ramsons (Allium ursinum, “Bärlauch” in German) and elderberries, especially their flowers. Maybe I should not call it a comeback because I doubt that ramsons, the European cousin of ramps, was ever so omnipresent as it is today. Walk into a German supermarket in the spring and you will find ramsons in every possible form, mixed into cheeses, breads, or sausage. And almost every restaurant has something with ramsons on the menu.
This is a preview of German Cuisine: Eat Your Elderflowers.
It was the photo of a wedding cake in the shape of a Louis Vuitton suitcase that had my cousin’s girlfriend in Germany in stitches a few years ago. I had emailed her the link to show her how outrageous some American wedding cakes are. Back then I decided that when she and my cousin got married I would make them a wedding cake. They did get married last winter, and when they announced they would visit us in August, it was finally time to get to work.
This is a preview of German Cuisine: Making a Wedding Cake.
“May I have some?”, my husband asked after he finished photographing the German carnival pastries I had made as tasting samples for a German food and history talk to the German club of a local high school. I allowed my photographer to eat the two rejects and took away the rest.
Driving home with the empty trays in the trunk, I felt bad about it. My husband photographs just about everything for Spoonfuls of Germany. It sometimes takes 2 or 3 hours until he is satisfied with the set, the light and the “pose”, and before he signs off on the food portraits that you see.
This is a preview of German Cuisine: Doughnuts Out of Africa.