Sunday, June 24, 2007
Fasting in Schlarrafenland
In any case, I never quite understood why I did it at the time, or what it meant, though it did give me some insight into the experience of people with serious food restrictions. Six weeks! Its also a power trip, strangely, a matter of control.
Anway, the recent insight I had, is that such a strange diet would perfetly odius in this place, the land of meat and beer. Schlarraffenland. Yes, meat does grow on the walls, and beer drips from the gutters. Exquisite ambrosial brews.
I now know why they did anything thay could to get out of it the Lenten fast, and eventually broke away from the universal church, I think over meat more than theology. And it is amazing stuff. Yesterday I made a cut of meat, called kasseler nacken. As far as I can tell a kassel is a cash register, and nack is neck. So it means Cashiers Necks. Sort of a cured ham-like thick shoulder chop of pork, but still raw. Maybe lighly smoked. The most unctuous and incredible piece of flesh I have ever put in my mouth. Browned in a pan. With noodles. I swoon.
Now I understand the Reformation. Who could go for six weeks without eating such things?
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
There are also gorgeous butchers everywhere, seriously stinky cheese, picklehäring from the North Sea, dark bread, and heady weissbier. And that was breakfast. I just came back from dinner, a kind of mixed grill of veal, beef, bacon, clove-laden weisswürst and speck-laden kartoffelnschmutz. I shall now burst asunder and did the Duke Of Brunswick (10 minutes away) who did surfet on strawberries, according to Thomas Moffet, in the 16th c.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Anyway, if you have interest, for the next month I will be posting bogs from Wolfenbuttel, (something you hope not to step in accidentally). No, a research trip. And seeing that I have only set foot on German soil once at age 17 for a few hours in Berchtesgaten, where we spotted an aged Eva Braun. I think it will be fun.
I am trying to channel the spirit of Frau von Mucke from whom I learned German one year in grad school, very quickly and efficiently (because she was stunningly beautiful and I hung on her every syllable), passed my reading proficiency exam and never looked at the language again. But I am sure words like Uberschallgeschwindigkeit will come in useful (supersonic speed) as well as Wortschatservieterung (word review?).
I have to admit the portmanteau words in German are thrilling, but they pale beside Russian, which I studied my freshman year in college. I have no idea how to write this in our alphabet, but imagine these sounds rolling off the tongue: Dostoprimachatchelnosti (sightseeing) or prepatavachelnitsa (female teacher). I can still speak a little Russian, perversely enough (U meenya yest yojik v'Yaltu: I have a hedgehog - in Yalta). Our teacher, Mrs. Miller, was a sweet but extremely tough woman. She made us stand up and sing "motion takes accusative" if you got it wrong. One bashful student refused and she waved her gorilla hands about and said, I quote, "you stand up and sing... or I kill you."
The strangest was learning Italian from a waiflike Polish woman one summer at Rutgers. No wonder no one understands what I'm saying there. But I honestly think it's reading 16th century Italian all the time and then expecting people will get it when it comes out of my mouth. "Pray wilst thou pass the butter my good man?" Italians always seem to understand what I say, but then they always grin from ear to ear and start giggling.
We shall see what monstrosoties issue from my mouth in Germany. Stay tuned.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Thursday, June 7, 2007
This is the north side of my kitchen, with racks that hold spice bottles I've thrown over the years. (There's a pottery studio directly below this space, with a beautiful kiln named St. Theresa and two wheels.) Most of these bottles are filled with something or another, though I also have an ingenious vertical spice drawer that slides out beneath the cuting board - holding even more bottles. I'm a spice freak, admitedly.
I was thinking about my kitchen lately, because it really is a wonderful space - it's where I spend practically all my time at home. And of course where company inevitably gathers. The structure itself was built in 1929 for the Alustasia family who owned a Basque restaurant here in Stockton. So it has really remarkable cooking vibes. Definitely a food house.
The wood and tiles were pictured here were added in the 80s by an investment banker, who I think went bust and sold it to a pilot, from whom I bought it about a decade ago. I've added a wine fridge, new oven and fridge and other things, but essentially it's been the same for the past 20 years.
What I like the most is that there is incredible counter space, it just wraps around the whole kitchen, so several people can be cutting at once without getting in each others' way. The tiles are a pain to clean, or at least the grout between them, but the very idea of changing it bugs me. Anway, I thought I'd share my favorite space. Now you're invited to stop by for a tipple and a bite to eat.
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
But even odder, is that I also save every cork, unmarked, of every bottle of wine I have ever opened. (Or at least for the past 25 years - I even moved with bagsful to California 15 years ago.) There are about 5 or 6 shopping bags of those stowed away. I never realized I had such a cork fetish before. Maybe it's some intution that someday they'll be obsolete and I'll be sitting on a gold mine. And it certainly is about the smell and texture of them, including cork trees - there are some in the park across from my house and next to my office. I toss the plastic ones. I've always had the ideas that I'd do something grandiose with them, like make a cork wall, or fashion some furniture out of cork somehow. Or maybe a little banquetting house in the garden.
If any of you have ideas for what to do with a monstrous mess of corks, please let me know.