I know, especially with all that is going on in the world today,
that the following topic is right up there with
“are cows ambidextrous?”
“Who won the world series in 1960”
but, at the moment, I have gotten a lot of questions,
from people where I grew up,
or people planning visits to Germany for business,
about different concrete aspects of life here.
And the most asked questions
are about food:
“is there thick tomato sauce?”
(an important question to those from St. Louis)
the local German-Italian restaurants are usually only authentic
if they are in a neighborhood with a large contingent of Italian natives.
Check out those areas.
Or the other St Louis question:
“Is there cracker crust pizza?”
There are many many kinds of pizza here,
including Wagner’s American style,
which has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with America.
rule number one here is:
if it says ” American,”
or “American style”
the things ordered about once per year,
for the fourth of July,
since this was a big American military area,
and the locals got to like fourth of July and American hot dogs, relish, corn, and ice cream.
So now back to GERMAN food:
What do I eat when I get to Gutenberg land.
In Near-St-Louis, we ate knackwurst-
made by a local Bavarian butcher,
but here, each form of sausage is made by an individual butcher,
and no two places have the same traditions,
so you will never find knackwurst.
Or Oscar Meyer.
My suggestion is:
do as the locals do,
if you can’t stand the thought of pigs ears in aspic,
or blood sausage,
or summer sausage,
There are a lot of good local vegetarian places.
Here in Gutenberg land, the university serves vegetarian and vegan,
and most Indian places and a lot of Chinese also.
So what else do you need to know?
where to live?
Housing here is about the same price range as in California,
or New York.
Cheaper in the countryside.
And if you have a car,
you might get to stay in a castle.
Several of the local youth hostels are even in castles.
Bed and breakfast vary in price and amount of nuisance involved.
But always interesting.
You may get home-cooked jam,
if you can take it with a laugh,
tell the story for years about how you had breakfast with a parrot
who sang the impossible dream, in bits and pieces, for most of an hour.
(Happened to us in Cologne)
Then there are the spa towns,
often a bit pricey, but not always,
and often great deals in the off-season.
It’s a huge part of the standard culture here,
not much like the US wellness places.
As to things like:
how do I get books, toothpaste, a doctor if I get sick.
Almost anyone putting you up for a night can tell you.
Or the internet, of course.
(In case of an emergency, look for the local “Apotheke”- the pharmacy.
They are very educated, and usually quite open-minded,
and you can probably even ask them where to get a bus,
as long as there isn’t a huge line of customers waiting.
(Friday afternoon, and Monday morning)
All you really have to know is:
the Rhineland is as civilized as most US cities,
and a large percentage of the German populace
has English lessons at school.
In fact, most of the younger Rhinelander speak truly excellent English,
and are often looking for someone to converse with.
Like recently, when two Turkish kids,
who had been here for a while, from the sound of their German,
(after we spoke German to them)
who asked us, in English, if we were lost-
yes, actually, we were,
due to the street being torn up,
and us having to come into town through a small side-street I had never seen before.
But that can happen anywhere.
So where do the purple potato dumplings come in?
Well, like I said, almost anything you need can be found on the internet.
There are exceptions, though.
Like the fact that,
should you look up a recipe for potato dumplings-
(grate raw peeled potatos, squeeze the water out, add potato starch, make into balls,
and cook them in boiling salt water till they float.)
what the internet, or cookbook recipe,
will definitely NOT tell you,
should you use standard American Idaho potatos,
the amount of zinc in the spuds
will make them turn purple in the boiling process.
Like I said,
do like the locals,
and if it goes wrong,
take it with a grain of salt.
Oh, and always have an excuse ready, just in case.
I made them purple because today is a holiday.
(Happy St. Hildelitba day!)
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