Die Essen (The Food)

OMG.  The food was amazing, I learned about so many different dishes!  I even bought a German cookbook (downside: it’s all in German and metric). Here are my favorites (and I have recipes!!!!):

– Currywurst

It’s pronounced “curry-verst” in German.  It’s a street food that is beyond amazing.  It is pork sausage with a tomato based sauce with spices and topped with curry powder.  Best part is the sausage is already sliced in pieces for you, so you can dig in right away with an itty bitty fork.  It’s usually served with french fries.  Nom.  Now I’m not much a sausage person, but this stuff really knocks it out of the park.  I ate it every chance I had.  It got to the point where The General was currywursted out.  “The wurst is yet to come,” I said with a smile.  As soon as I “dry out” from my meat bender and find a butcher in this beach town, I’m going to make this.

– Berliner Weisse

If it’s one thing the Germans get right, it’s beer.  I’m not much of a beer drinker, but our tour guide did recommend one beer that he said “was too sweet for him” – the Berliner Weisse.  I knew then I had to try it.  (I have a sweet tooth….in every tooth).  It’s a brand of beer I’m going to attempt to find here, Berliner Kindl (A slang southern German that translates as “Berlin Child.”)  It’s akin to Budweisser here, light and clear.  It’s then mixed with a sweet syrup that’s either grün (green) or rot (red).  Red was raspberry, green was apple — my favorite.  I’m about to order it online.  Because of America’s absolutely fantastic alcohol import laws, I am unable to find Berliner Kindl here; but it should be easy enough to find a replacement.

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The boob tube

I rarely watch TV.  Part of it has to do with my work schedule; the other part is the fact we cheaped out on cable and no longer have a DVR.  I watch SNL, One Tree Hill, Downton Abbey, and Mad Men: what I like to call quality television. Debatable, but it’s what trips my trigger.

Mad Men Season 5 is in full swing and I’m addicted.  There I am, drinking my Port and gasping during the scenes with The General snuggled up with me.  He’s not into it as much as I am, but will watch it with me, especially if there is wine and edamame involved.  Downton Abbey won’t premiere until September (sigh), One Tree Hill has wrapped, and SNL is either hit or miss.  I figured I had a good repertoire going and then The General had to go and get me sucked into another drama.

We have a subscription to Netflix, and The General got Game of Thrones.  Now, it’s an HBO produced show, so that should have clued me in on storylines, but it didn’t register.  If natural female breasts bother you, please do not watch this show.  You will be extremely offended.  It was an education for me:  as an American in the 21st century, I’ve grown so used to the silicone-enhanced assets, that I’ve completely never noticed natural breasts outside my own.  I don’t like porn and I’m 110% hetero, so I’m quite limited.  All the women shown in the show (which takes place during the middle ages in a fantasy realm, so there’s no real date on things and the framework of buildings doesn’t fit with any time period which bothered this realist more than the breasts) have seemingly normal, run of the mill breasts.  I was shocked.  I’m can fill a 36B on a good day.  All these women were about my size, some a little smaller, some a little bigger.  I’m not used to that!  “This is totally normal, ” said the General, who did an independent study on the subject during his undergrad years. “Society and the media have taught us that breasts are suppose to be huge and round and it just isn’t so.”

Hmph.  Could have fooled me.

Once you get passed the nipples, the storyline is amazing.  It’s interwoven into families and it becomes – you guessed it – a game of thrones.  I must admit I’m eagerly awaiting disk 3 to arrive in the mail.

I would also like to note that said nudity does play into the storyline.  I don’t believe in gratuitous nudity much as I don’t believe in anything gratuitous in storylines: people, places, things, lines, etc.  Some of the scenes take place in brothels, so naturally there would be half naked women running around.  But it’s all central to plot/character development.  I like it.  Well scripted, well casted, well acted, well directed — a classic for sure.

I also discovered, in my quest to learn conversational German, Sat.1, a German broadcast station.  2 shows I think will help immensely: Die Harald Schmidt Show, billed as the Conan O’Brien of late night German TV.  He’s funny, but I barely understand him.  The other show, which has me laughing off my chair is a sketch comedy called Knallerfrauen.  Short scenes with hilarious hijinks – you don’t have to understand the language to get the joke, although it does help.  Some I can understand, but most fly over my head like Herr Schmidt.  Hopefully in time, I will understand what they’re saying.  Until then, I will just laugh hysterically  at the physical comedy of it all.

And German newspapers have a “sexy bilder” (sexy picture) feature with…..you guessed it……women without shirts.  Most are natural.

Go figure.

Rebels with a cookout and an enchanting bike ride all while getting depth charged at the Academy Awards (or otherwise entitled, My weekend with my General)

The weekend  was fun – we did a lot of cool stuff.  We started out with a Civil War battle re-enactment complete with muskets and cannons, which is always a good time since we’re bigger Civil War buffs than most.  Afterwards, we spent the evening at Kris and Pat’s for a cook out with cheese-stuffed burgers on the grill and s’mores over a mini campfire in a trailer park.  The company, the food, the fun — it was perfection.

Today we skipped church in favor of a 10 mile bike ride that was slightly surreal through a desolate trail we’d never done before.  It was a blast – we even saw a blue heron (my husband’s totum).  We bummed around for the afternoon before we settled into a crockpot of BBQ chicken with a good movie — “The Boat.”  It was a movie in German — also known as the submarine flick from the year my birth, “Das Boot.”  I figured out I was in pre-production when the film was in post-production from the DVD insert.

We blew our receiver with one of the depth charge scenes.  Silly British and our receivers.  Voldemort killed our 1st one going after Harry Potter. Luckily, this one was able to recover with a full powerdown.  Denon is apparently weak against dark magic, but can withstand TNT.

We had it in original German with English subtitles.  I still can’t understand what they’re saying: it is just mutter and I can only make out the numbers.  I hope I won’t be giving submarine depth commands in Germany. My dad would be jealous.

Then, I watched the Academy Awards in the best way possible: on the couch with my Katie (a rather large calico) snuggled up to my head (this never ever happens) and my General snuggling/sleeping on my chest.

<insert happy sigh here>

While I love Billy Crystal and think he did a fantastic job (as did the presenters), I felt the set/show was a bit flat.  Something was missing.  It just didn’t have that pizzazz that it usually does.

It was a good weekend indeed, but I’m ready for the warm weather.  I’m craving a warm beach day: the blahs of winter are setting in.  I’m excited for spring.  Mad Men.  To not feel like myself again – steroids are not fun anymore (The General likes how I’ve “filled out my jeans.”  I’m still trying to figure out how that is a good thing).

Til then, onto the next.

Stuck in America

Once upon a time when I was a camp counselor, I had the opportunity to work with a variety of counselors from around the globe.  The one counselor who really suck with me was Mia who was from Croatia, and it was her 1st time on American soil.  She spoke English better than most Americans and it wasn’t textbook English – it was conversational English.  She knew and used all the colloquialisms – without a trace of her native country’s accent.

I wanted to know what her secret was.  Where did she learn such Americanisms?  “TV, ” she replied.  Apparently in Croatia she was able to access American television and picked up the language merely from exposure.  “It’s how I learned German, too,” she added.  “MTV was broadcasted in German, so I just picked it up.”  Wow.

As I’m learning German, I remembered what Mia had said and how most people pick up a language: complete submersion.  It’s near impossible here in Wilmington.  I keep telling The General that Germany is going to default with the whole Euro mess and maybe America will have a wave of German immigrants.  Then we would get to the point of where signs will be in German, German radio stations (oompa bands?), and German television; much like what has gone on with the wave of Mexicans in our country.  The house across the street from us just sold. I  secretly hope it’s new owners are German.  The General thinks I’m nuts.

So I signed onto RTL, a German broadcast company, much like NBC here.  They have a lot of the same shows we have here: “Ich bin ein Star, holt mich heir raus!” – I’m A Celebrity, Get me Out of Here! and “Deutschland sucht den SuperStar” – American Idol.  I figured it out because they use the same logo.  And “Der Bachelor.”  I know, quality programming.  They have everything online, so as I excitedly clicked on the series a window popped up with a German blurb I couldn’t translate.  My app basically said that it couldn’t be accessed because the law prohibits them from being viewed outside of the German viewing area i.e. America.  Bah.  I can access clips, but not the whole show.

And so the reading with my limited vocabulary continues.

My German roots are rotting

It’s month 4 of learning German via Rosette Stone, a Berlin newspaper, and random Rammstein songs.  And while my vocabulary has greatly increased, my speaking ability seems stunted to “one noun, one verb” sentences.  And that noun better be in the singular tense.  God help me if I need to use the formal version v. informal version.  My grandparents are turning in their urns; local native speaking Germans have headaches and they don’t know why.  Our summer trip to Berlin is yet to be formally scheduled, but it’s on my radar in the new year.

I have the reading ability of a 1st grader, but the speaking ability of an 18 month old.  I have this bad feeling that I’m going to be pointing at things in Germany and whining until they’re given to me when I don’t know how to say the word.  Some of my vocab words are coming in handy  when browsing the newspaper and what I can’t decipher I’m using a translation app on my computer – which works about 95% of the time, it’s not perfect.

Today I stumbled upon a blog for the lovelorn from the Berliner Zeitung (Berlin Newspaper).  It’s all in German.  It’s an advice column of sorts.  And while it probably isn’t the most honorable thing to read, it is the most entertaining.  Okay, so I have to translate most words (although I can easily translate “Ich hatte gestern Nacht Sex in der Küche im Appartement einer Frau” – “I had sex last night in the kitchen of a woman’s apartment,” which is actually what caught my eye, mainly because I could understand it.  Germans capitalize nouns.)  And apparently sex is the same in both languages. Who knew?  It’s a good thing though: won’t have to worry about saying that accidently and embarrassing myself.

I got my Twilight book in English, so I can follow along with the German version,  too.  I’m hoping the more I read, the more I’ll understand sentence structure and it’ll eventually click in my head.  I know I need to speak it more, which is where Skype and some poor unlucky German speaker will be useful when my Rosette Stone Totale subscription runs out.  So far my group chats on Rosette Stone have been very touch and go.  They’re very encouraging, but I’m struggling.

My goal is to speak and write it well enough to not struggle through it.  As fluent as I can get this side of Deutschland.