Thursday, July 13, 2006

Memories of Bremen

Everyone at work today is making fun of me, because I have pink-eye-like symptoms. Telling me to stay away from them, not to touch anything, etc. :(
I feel like a little kid. What am I going to have next? Chicken pox?
Today is my friend Mary's birthday, and I am trying to find an e-card for her, but this machine doesn't have Flash. I hope I remember to do it later.
A year ago today, I was visiting her at her apartment in Bremen, Germany.
At this time, the picnic was probably just starting. I don't think we went sightseeing at all that day. I believe we woke up and began preparing for the picnic.
I am trying to remember if we went grocery shopping the day before, or that morning, or both.
I was amused to see that Mary is like me--frugal. Next door to the Aldi Markt was a big, bright, clean and well-organized grocery chain, probably Familia. But we only went there for their sale items or if Aldi didn't have something. On the inside, Aldi Markt resembled the place I buy produce. It looked like a warehouse that someone stuck food in. Gray stone walls, pipes and wires visible...all unheard of brands of food, and all very cheap.
I was amused, later, to find out that not only are there Aldi Markts in the U.S., but they are in New Jersey. There might even be one in New Brunswick, though I haven't seen it.
The next day, I spent a significant amount of time preparing a fruit salad that I didn't even eat, since I wasn't really into fruit salad. It was the pizza made with Blätterteig*, the various sandwiches, the French fries with sour cream, Greek salad, and two different classic German cakes, multi-layered and baked in Springforms, that captured my interest.
I made most of the sandwiches, and the only thing unusual about them, to me, was the use, at Mary's recommendation, of Remoulade, a sweet mayonnaise-like substance, and butter, with the meat. Oh, and the sandwiches for vegetarians like Cindy--vegetables (tomato and cucumber slices with lettuce) and Frischkäse mit Kräuter. (Cream cheese with herbs...usually chives.)
But when the guests arrived and spotted the sandwiches, they laughed uproariously. "I see we have an Amerikanerin in the house!"
What washed over me was the feeling I had so often during the three weeks overseas. Confusion and slight hurt--I wasn't sure if I should be hurt or not, if I was being made fun of, and if so, why? Everyone laughed, and explained that Americans are known for their big sandwiches. I laughed, too. I had no idea that we make our sandwiches particularly large. The tall guys were happy, because then they would definitely have enough to eat.
When I came back from Germany, I never managed to locate Remoulade, though I'm sure we have it here, but I often copied the vegetarian sandwiches. I baked my own Brötchen, once in the summer and once in the fall, and froze most of them so that for a month or so, I could microwave them and have, for breakfast or a small lunch, my own piece of Germany. I cut chives from the garden, mixed them with Philadelphia Neufchatel, and sliced farmer's market tomatoes, cucumbers from my own garden, and Shop Rite spinach.
I wish I had more free time. I was supposed to, this summer, but I haven't. If it didn't make such a mess, I would take an afternoon and make another 32 Brötchen.
The Germans were big on outdoor parties--picnics and Grill-Partys. I wish my friends and I had more of them.

*The only good pizza I had the entire time I was in Germany and Switzerland. The pizza in Zürich was the absolute worst. The pizza in Hamburg was actually quite good, if you didn't think of it as pizza.