Buying German food products for the “yuks”…

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That’s right. “Yuks”. As in, laughing your ass off. I think we could all could use some more “yuks”, right?

Yesterday, while I was binge watching murder porn on Snapped, Bill came into our bedroom with a shelf stable container of oat milk. He likes to use animal free products sometimes because he’s a healthier person than I am on many levels. He said he bought the oat milk because of the label. Behold…

Bill and I have both noticed that while Germany has rules against “Beleidigung, that is, insulting people (especially people in authority like cops and politicians), they have no compunction about using English swear words in everyday language. For instance, one can be listening to an American pop song on the radio and if there are f bombs in it, you will hear them in all of their profane glory. Same thing with announcers on the radio, who regularly refer to “shitstorms”.

Personally, I’m alright with the profanity. I’m not a big believer in “bad words”, anyway. I really don’t think there is such a thing. Every word, in my opinion, is neutral. It’s the intent behind them that makes saying them good or bad. For instance, as a former English major at Longwood University, I took courses in African-American literature and Women’s literature. Both courses included slave narratives in which a certain taboo racist epithet was used repeatedly.

Was I offended? No, not really. That word was part of the lexicon at the time and the books would have lost their power without them. I was offended by the brutality of the way slaves were treated in those stories and the fact that their true stories are a shameful part of history. But the use of the n-word in those books is necessary. Same as it’s necessary in certain musical pieces, like Stevie Wonder’s “Living for the City”, and even in certain 70s and 80s era sitcoms, in which racism was a topic that was tackled. The word is used to convey the extent of the contempt and racism of those times. Taking it out would lessen the impact of the pieces.

Because of that– and because I love language and all its quirks– I don’t believe in “bad words”. I don’t think they should be used as weapons. I think people should be judicious in how they use their language. But I’m not a fan of “banning” any specific words… and, as we can see from the above label, even “bad” words can mean different things to different people. I know many Americans who would blush seven shades of red at simply reading that label. They sure as hell wouldn’t have bought the product! But my husband bought it because of the words “fucking” and “bullshit”. He knew that I would get a big kick out of them.

The words “fucking” and “bullshit” don’t have the same impact in Germany as they do in America, just like the words “cunt” and “fag” don’t mean the same to Brits as they do to us Yanks. Hell, until very recently, there was an old village in Austria called Fucking. I should know, because Bill and I visited. We also visited Fuckersberg, Austria, because we’re nerds like that. Fucking recently changed its name after hundreds of years of being known as “Fucking”. Why? Because Americans kept stealing their road signs and doing things like having sex under the the signs. What a shame. Typical Americans ruining things for everybody.

Sigh… I really miss traveling. I look forward to the day when I can write a post on my travel blog that is actually about travel. But, for now, I will continue to get a big kick out of “fucking good Oatmilk” that makes “sexy Milchkaffee”. Except I don’t think I could bring myself to try oat milk… so maybe not. Bill is calling me to breakfast, so off I pop. Have a great Valentine’s Day!

An August walk in the vineyards…

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I run a Facebook group for wine lovers in the American communities of Germany. I started the group when we lived near Stuttgart, and have continued it since we moved up here to Wiesbaden. Stuttgart is “German wine country”, but the Rheingau, which is where Wiesbaden is, could be considered “German wine world”. I had no idea, when we moved up here a couple of years ago, how much more of a wine region the Rhein area is compared to Stuttgart, which now seems much more like beer country to me. If you like German wines, or just want to see if you like them, this area is “must visit” territory. I used to dislike German wines, but I eventually found quite a few that I enjoy. Every year we’ve lived here (since 2014, anyway), I have found even more that appeal to me.

One of Bill’s co-workers, Nora, happened to befriend a trivia loving American lady named Jennipher Schwarz, who married a German man named Klaus, whose family is in the wine business. Naturally, Jennipher and Klaus have a special “in” to German winemakers, but Jennipher is also a chef who has extensive experience captaining boats, too. She’s a fascinating person, and I’m delighted that Bill’s co-worker met her at trivia night! They are both tremendous assets to my little Facebook group, which has grown by leaps and bounds since I started it in 2016.

Jennipher and her husband have a business called Winestones, and they run wine tastings, winery tours, and facilitate wine sales. Last night, they hosted a “wine walk” at Lunkenheimer-Lager, one of several family owned wineries near Ingelsheim am Rhein, a picturesque wine producing town about 40 kilometers from where we live. For 24 euros per person, we got to try generous pours of several wines and have some vegetarian fare…

A few months ago, when the pandemic was in full swing, Jennipher hosted an online wine tasting via Zoom. Bill and I participated in that and had a great time, but this was the first time we’d made it to one of the special wine walk events Winestones hosts. We tried several different wines, walked around the vineyards, and socialized in person for the first time in many months. About everyone in attendance last night, save for the vintners, were Americans who are part of the U.S. military presence up here, but Jennipher has said she gets all kinds of people at her events. Here’s a link to Winestones’ Facebook page, for anyone who happens to read this and would like to get in touch.

The weather was awesome, and Bill and I took Arran with us… I got lots of great photos, too. Here are a few of them.

The wine walk was up a slight hill, which afforded many beautiful views of the valley. Anyone who visits a winery and does a walk should expect to walk up hills, since grapevines are planted on them for maximum sunshine. Jennipher and Klaus helpfully explained some of the methods used for gathering the local grapes for delicious German wines. She showed us some vines that were planted in April of this year, and told us about a couple of vines that date from the World War II era. The older vines don’t produce as many grapes and are harder to tend, but the grapes they do produce put out very interesting wines for the discriminating palate!

I probably could have sipped wine and taken pictures all night, but unfortunately, it was getting cooler and darker… and all of that wine has to go somewhere. I needed to ladies room in the worst way. Nora and I, feeling our collective oats, headed back down the hill to the facilities. The rest of the group followed, and we went back into the tasting room for a little dessert, more wine, and more talk about wine, as well as a few inappropriate subjects. I’m sure the people who were sitting near Bill and me probably think I’m totally nuts, and I am. But I’ve also been mostly locked down for months and haven’t had anyone to talk to. Even when we took our recent vacation, our most engaging conversation was with the “Shaman”, the artist in Italy who identifies with Geronimo… and maybe the other artist we met in Bolzano. I am somewhat introverted (much more than people realize), but I do need human contact sometimes.

I really regret not participating in one of Winestones’ earlier events this year. What can I say? 2020 has definitely been an unusual year for us and everyone else on the planet. Jennipher says she may do another event in the fall. I hope she will, because now I’ve done two with her and had a blast! And for one of them, I didn’t even have to get dressed or leave my home!

And now that we’ve been to Ingelsheim am Rhein, we will have to go back. We noticed several other inviting looking “Weinguts” in the area, but I would also love to get some more photos. It really is breathtaking scenery. I have missed beautiful countryside views, since we left Jettingen in 2018.

We may manage to get out for a bit today, too, so there could be another post in the very near future!

Stuff I’ve learned this weekend so far…

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Last night, I became aware of an aspect of German culture of which I was previously unaware. I have a friend living in Stuttgart who is Croatian, but easily passes for German and speaks German like a native. Yesterday, he posted about an altercation he had with a young woman who had a child with her. They exchanged words because he chastised her (which is VERY German behavior, especially in Swabia) for spitting on the sidewalk.

She, in turn, called him a “shit potato”.

My Croatian friend said that this young woman was speaking perfect “Kanaken German”. I asked him what that meant, and he said it was when a foreign person residing in Germany speaks bad German/slang. I was a bit confused by that. Does that include people like Bill, who speaks German poorly and resides in Germany? So I asked my German friend to explain my Croatian friend’s original comment:

“Wenn du von einem ca 19 jährigen Mädchen als “scheiss Kartoffel” beschimpft wirst, weil du ihr sagst, dass sie nicht auf den Gehweg spucken soll. Sie sprach perfekt Kanakendeutsch. Ach so, sie hatte ein Kind.”

My German friend, who is a superstar researcher and enjoys teaching me about Germany and its culture, found this hilarious video. Don’t worry if you don’t speak German. There are subtitles.

These are people from the Middle East– namely Turkey– learning “German”. This would be Kanaken German, though… poorly constructed and full of profanity. Who says Germans don’t have a sense of humor?

Kanaken German is slangy, improperly constructed vernacular German typically spoken by some people of Middle Eastern heritage. Evidently, people who speak Kanaken German tend to be insulting. Like, for instance, the woman calling my Croatian friend a “shit potato”, and the people in the above video using words like “Aaalder” (which means “dude”, although the English subtitles say it means fucker) and “Dutture” (bitch). Well, since he’s not German, he’s technically not a “potato”, but she clearly thought he was German and referred to him as a “potato” as an insult. My Croatian friend sarcastically added, “And I’m the racist!” Clearly he’s not in this case. It’s not nice to insult people using cultural stereotypes, but it sounds like that exchange wasn’t very pleasant regardless!

According to my research, the term “potato” (Kartoffel) for Germans dates back to the 1960s, when Italians were brought in as guest workers. They were known as “spaghetti eaters” and Germans were known as “potato eaters”. Evidently, certain Turkish people have also come to use the term “Kartoffel” for Germans as a whole. As the above video demonstrates, Germans are also called “pig eaters”, which seems even more derogatory since most Turks are Muslims and they don’t eat pork.

I guess, in a weird way, Kanaken German could be characterized somewhat like Ebonics in English, although I don’t think Ebonics is necessarily derogatory. It’s simply “black English”– language patterns that evolved when black people were enslaved in the United States. In the 1990s, Ebonics became somewhat controversial in the United States because certain groups felt it should be legitimized and respected. The term Ebonics dates from the early 70s. It was coined by African American social psychologist Robert Williams, who felt that the dialect spoken by some black Americans should have a name that was less negative than other terms for it, such as “nonstandard Negro English”.

Anyway… I thought it was interesting that I learned a little something more about German culture based on a Facebook post. I’m always grateful to my German friend for being willing to explain these things to me, especially when she finds entertaining teaching examples like the hilarious video above. It definitely drove home the point!

Yesterday, Bill went into Wiesbaden to pick up some Five Guys burgers for us and check out how things are looking as Germany gradually normalizes after the spring lockdown from hell. He said that there were a lot of people out and about, and some people wear masks as they walk around. Most people only put them on when entering a building. People were dining in restaurants. Wait staff wears masks, but if you’re sitting at a table, it’s not required. You just wear them to come in, leave, or use the restroom. And everyone must leave their contact information in case someone is reported ill. After three or four weeks, the information is discarded. I still have no desire to dine out under those conditions, especially as the temperatures rise, but I may change my mind. I’m grateful that people seem to be working together in Germany instead of being polarized, as it appears a lot of people are in the United States right now.

For today, Bill ordered a three course lunch from our favorite fine dining restaurant, Villa Im Tal. He’s going to pick it up this afternoon, and we will dine at home.

I also had occasion to try a couple of Bailey’s liqueur products yesterday. Most Americans know Bailey’s Irish Cream. However, there are a few other varieties of cordials available made by that company. They have the sinfully delicious Bailey’s Luxe Chocolat, which is pretty much like an orgasm in a bottle– Bailey’s mixed with Belgian chocolate. They have Strawberries & Cream. And they have Almande, which is a vegan, lactose free, almond milk drink. All of these cordials can be enjoyed by themselves or as mixers. I have had the Luxe Chocolat many times, so I didn’t need to taste test that.

I enjoyed both the Strawberries & Cream and the Almande, though I would prefer original Bailey’s or Luxe Chocolat to either of them. The Strawberries & Cream, which contains milk and milk products, reminded me of strawberry flavored Quik (Nesquik) from my youth, or perhaps the pink, liquid, antibiotic medicine (Erythromycin) I used to get for ear infections when I was a child. The Almande has a nice, rich, nutty taste, but the liqueur isn’t as rich or creamy. I did put some in my coffee this morning, though. It was not bad at all.

And finally, here are some pictures of our garden. We had a tree die in our yard last fall. It was overcome by ivy. As we’ve cut down most of it, a small patch of land has opened up for a small garden. Since we can’t travel like we usually do, Bill has decided to do some gardening. He picked up some garden boxes, since the plain patch was being ruined by Arran’s incessant need to dig. Now that he has a new box, he’s going to move some cucumber plants. We may have some fresh vegetables this summer. In light of today’s post, maybe we should have planted some potatoes…

Farm Fresh Too…

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A couple of months ago, when we tried and failed to adopt a dog, I joined a bunch of local Facebook groups. My purpose for joining was to spread the word about the dog we tried to adopt who escaped from his pet transport taxi driver and later got hit and killed by a car on the Autobahn. Well… now we’re waiting on another dog to join our family in a few months, but I’m still a member of the groups I joined when we were frantically trying to recover the one who got away.

As a fortunate consequence of joining the local Facebook groups, I’m starting to learn about stuff in the area that I never knew about. One place that came on my radar is the Birkenhof Hofheim, which is a farm that offers fresh produce as well as a 24/7 refrigerator where one can purchase fresh food. Germany is wonderful about making fresh food available at relatively affordable prices. Although there don’t seem to be quite as many farms up here near Frankfurt as there were near Stuttgart, they do exist if you look.

Our last home, in Jettingen in Baden-Württemberg, was near several farms. I wrote about our first experience shopping at the farms a few years ago. Up here in Breckenheim, we’re not as close to so many farms, since it’s a more industrialized area. Still, at this time of year– smack dab in the middle of “Spargel (asparagus) season”, there are plenty of stands selling strawberries, blueberries, and all sorts of other delicious produce.

Thanks to the pandemic, the Birkenhof Hofheim isn’t fully open until May 29th. Under normal circumstances, the farm offers fresh delights that can be served at a table. They also have fun activities for kids. When the farm opens up again, special rules will have to be followed– masks worn when using the toilet and everyone has to provide contact information in case someone gets sick and you have to be notified. After three or four weeks, they discard the information.

I was happy enough to get out for a little while today and get some photos… as well as some farm fresh treats for our table at home. They had everything from corn cobs and charcoal for your grill to milk, flour, and eggs. There was paper and a pen for tallying up the cost of your goods, all of which were clearly priced. They had bags for packing your stuff, and a money box for you to put your cash. The whole thing is secured by cameras, so don’t think of taking anything without paying. We bought about 21 euros worth of stuff.

This trip was also handy because it turns out the farm is very close to the Tierklinik Hofheim, which our former vet in Herrenberg (near Stuttgart) says is one of the best veterinary hospitals in Germany. When Zane was having his first issues with mast cell cancer, the vet down there was telling me about this clinic and how she could refer us there if need be. I remember looking it up and thinking it was so far away. Little did I know, we’d eventually be living about twenty minutes away. So now I kind of know where it is, in case I have to take Arran or our next dog there sometime.

It was nice to get out of the house… only the third time since March! I’m getting braver. We’ll definitely be back to the Birkenhof Hofheim for more fresh treats soon! I love visiting the farms and am glad to find one up here near Frankfurt, the only German city with lots of skyscrapers.

So much for social distancing…

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Bill and I decided to visit our local Globus today. For those who don’t know, Globus is an enormous store– a hypermarket to end all hypermarkets. We didn’t have them near Stuttgart, but they’re elsewhere in Germany and we have one a few miles from our house. I used to think the Real, which was once German Walmart, was huge. Globus puts the Real to shame… or, at least it puts the one we had in Jettingen to shame.

I don’t like going to huge stores, so this was only my second or third time at our Globus. We went there to restock our liquor supply and pick up a few other things. Also, I wanted to see how crazy things were after people were advised to “social distance” because of the Coronavirus. Here are some photos from our trip…

We ended up having an impromptu gin tasting in the liquor section. A guy was hawking Upstairs Gin, which comes from Heidelberg. They had a few varieties. We tried two, and bought bottles of each. The guy spoke excellent English and was taking care of us and a German couple, who said they could speak English… to which Bill told them in German that we speak a little German, too. It occurred to me that this would never happen in the United States. A lot of states don’t allow liquor to be sold in grocery stores and/or require it to be sold in a government controlled store. It depends on where you are. In South Carolina, Georgia, and Texas, we had liquor stores. In Virginia and North Carolina, we had “ABC” stores run by the state government. Or, of course, we could shop on military installations or online. But there we were, tasting gin at a huge store that sells everything but toilet paper… at least when there’s a virus running amok. Gin is all the rage in Germany these days. They’ve got some good ones.

New gin.

After we went to Globus, we decided to have lunch. It had been some time since our last visit to Spirit of New Orleans, our local Cajun restaurant run by an Army veteran named John and his wife. We’ve been there a few times, since it’s located very close to where we live. Last time we were there to eat in, John was having kind of a bad day. But he was in a good mood today. I had barbecued ribs and Bill had fried shrimp. It was all delicious, even if I did need a good flossing afterwards…

Today’s visit to Spirit of New Orleans was fortuitous, because as we were finishing up, another American came in. His name is Ernie and he works in the area. It turned out he and Bill both took advantage of the National Defense University’s cybersecurity program and graduated during the same year. So we were chatting, having a great time. Ernie says he’ll be moving back to the States soon, but not as soon as he planned, because the government has frozen everyone for the next 60 days. Coronavirus has put a hitch in a lot of plans… and is making finding toilet paper quite a project.

It was great to see John again, and have some Cajun food. The ribs were spicy and wet, and really hit the spot. The fried shrimp were also good. And John even brought out what he called moonshine, which he gave to me in a glass he says his mother in law made for him. Whether it was shine or Schnapps, it lit me up! Between the liquor tasting at the grocery store and the house shot at lunchtime, I’ve definitely enjoyed a midday repast I never could in the United States. Total bill for us was about 55 euros… not bad, considering that we also took wings to go.

After lunch, we went to the Lidl, because Bill wants to make a Guinness Cake and needed some cream cheese. Globus is humongous, but they were out of plain cream cheese. All they had was flavored. Luckily, Lidl had what we needed. We got our cream cheese and some Gruyere… but I couldn’t help but notice that like the Globus, the pickings were slim. Check out these photos!

After we got our cheese, we went to the drink market to turn in our empty beer crate and pick up some more… as well as some Guinness for the cake.

This was the first time I’d been out of the neighborhood in awhile, so today was kind of fun. I’m hoping that when the weather turns permanently nice, we’ll start doing the fun stuff we did two years ago, before we had to move and things got weird in Wiesbaden. That is, of course, if neither Bill nor I get deathly sick from Coronavirus…

I don’t understand the toilet paper hoarding. I think Rewe still had some on Friday, but the two markets we went to today were completely out. I don’t understand why toilet paper is so important now. People have lost their damned minds.

Bill will probably do some teleworking next week. That suits me fine. I’ve missed him, so having him at home will be great.

I suspect that if this toilet paper shortage continues, people won’t have to be encouraged to “social distance”. The smell will keep people apart. Maybe it’s time to buy a Bum Gun.

I sure hope people are hoarding and using birth control, too…

The bed’s too big without Bill.

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Sigh… Bill left a few days ago for his latest TDY. It’s only been since Monday, but it’s the third or fourth TDY he’s done since the New Year. You’d think after 17 years, I’d be used to this, but I hate it when he leaves town. I’m kind of a loner and usually end up spending a lot of quality time watching TV.

This morning, I finally decided to take my car out of the garage. It’s been ages since I last drove anywhere, and given that I almost hit the house as I was backing out of our little garage, my lack of practice really shows. Our house, like a lot of German houses, has a very small garage that fits the Mini Cooper perfectly. But backing in and out of it is a bit tricky.

We live very close to the Rewe, so I could actually walk there, but I knew I needed to pick up a few things. Also, I had a crapload of empty plastic bottles to deposit. I drink a lot of water, especially when Bill isn’t around. When he’s not home, I try to stay off booze. This week, I’ve had a bottle of wine and a couple of beers. So you can imagine, I went through a lot of mineral water with gas this week!

Now… ordinarily, this trip to the store wouldn’t be a big deal, except our Rewe was recently renovated because we got a brand new drink market. The construction workers spent all last year turning what used to be a field into a lovely new drink store, and they freed up lots of space that used to be taken up by drinks for the older grocery store. The work was done in early December, and yet I still hadn’t been in there. Let me just say, I was really pleasantly surprised at how nice the store is now. It’s a huge improvement. They have a much larger meat counter, a cheese counter, and a much bigger frozen foods section. There are more aisles and the crappy beer selection they used to have is greatly expanded in the drink market.

I took a few photos after I found the bottle depository, which is now in the drink market. I got 5,25 euros off my order, y’all! The bottle depository is also a hell of a lot nicer. It doesn’t mess up as much as the old one did and you can even get directions in languages other than German.

Germans are pretty serious about recycling, so everyone brings back their bottles for a “Pfand”. That’s the money you deposit for each bottle. I remember, as a kid, I used to collect glass bottles and turn them in for money. Then we moved to redneck Gloucester, Virginia, where everybody just took their trash to the dump. Here in Germany, you have to separate everything into different bins and I’m back to turning in bottles for cash.

I noticed that the store was stocked with pasta, toilet paper, and detergents. All week, I’ve heard that Germans have been panic buying everything– especially pasta, face masks, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer (and just a note from your friendly MPH– washing your hands is a better solution). Germans have a funny term for this type of purchasing– Hamsterkäufen. Yes, it’s akin to the fuzzy rodents known as hamsters, who are known for packing their cheeks full of food. In some places, Germans are likewise buying out stores because of the Coronavirus. But maybe they’re not so panicked in our neighborhood.

I picked up a few items I needed, along with a new rubber chicken for Arran. The cashier got a kick out of the toy and gave it a few squeaks before ringing it up. Arran was delighted to have a new plaything to destroy. He went freakin’ nuts with “crazy dog” when I gave it to him. But I think my most exciting score was sushi. Our new improved Rewe has sushi now! That will be a welcome change from the chicken I’ve been eating all week.

I think we’ll get through the next few days, while Bill visits his long lost younger daughter in Utah. They haven’t seen each other since 2004. There’s a long, painful, convoluted story as to why they’ve been apart for 15 years. I’ve written about it a lot in my original blog. I like to keep this one relatively tame whenever possible. Anyway, I suspect there will be an exciting reunion. He’ll meet his son-in-law and grandchildren. I’ll sit at home and eat sushi from the new and improved Rewe.

I suppose I could get braver and drive somewhere else further afield, but I think I’ve had enough excitement for one day. Besides, Arran went nuts when I left for the store, and I was only gone for about 30 minutes or so. I’ll wash the sheets, do some more writing, and maybe even record a song. I love it when I’m a busy bee.

Swarming with insect protein…

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Bill went to the store earlier to get some provisions for the weekend. While he was there, he noticed an interesting product for sale– protein bars made of insect protein. He said, “I think I have a potential blog post for you.” as he held up what turned out to be two protein bars made by a Cologne based company called Swarm. What made them so special? They’re made of crickets… (do I hear crickets now? Shocking!)

Swarm bars come in three flavors: Raw Cocoa, Red Berries, and Chia Hazelnut. Bill brought home one each of the Red Berry and Raw Cocoa bars. He’s already tasted the Raw Cocoa bar and says it’s kind of crunchy… which somehow doesn’t surprise me.

Why would a person want to eat a protein bar made of crickets? Because insects are nutritious. They are a great alternative source of protein, since they contain all essential amino acids and many important micronutrients like vitamin B12, zinc and iron.

It’s also more environmentally friendly to use insects as a protein source, and Germans are famously environmentally conscious. It’s illegal to kill bees here, for instance, and you won’t find a lot of pesticides for sale. Although there are plenty of farms and lots of natural fertilizers used in Germany (and believe me, the nose knows this, especially in rural areas), Swarm Bars are made from crickets from Thailand, among other natural ingredients. The crickets use fewer resources to process than more traditional protein sources from animals need. Compared to cattle, crickets only need 8% of the feed, 2% of the water, and they produce almost no greenhouse gases.

Swarm is a very new product, as in it’s only been available to the public for a very short time. Reading the company’s “About Us” page, translated by Google Chrome, I learned that in 2015, company founders Christopher Zeppenfeld and Timo Bäcker went to Thailand to eat insects. They had the goal of introducing them to the Western diet. The two guys bought a couple of motorcycles and traveled around Southeast Asia, tasting as many edible insects as they could. They had become accustomed to eating insects and realized they could turn their new interest into a business… if they could get Europeans and probably eventually Americans to take to the idea of eating bugs.

Christopher and Timo came back to Germany, teamed up with an expert in sports and nutrition named Dani, and started working on developing their protein bars made with Thai crickets. They launched a crowdfunding project and got cooperation from the University of Cologne, and voila, a new product was born! Here’s a review in German by some people who had the chance to try Swarm before it was made available at our local and newly remodeled Rewe.

I must admit that I didn’t try the bars, which are made with cricket flour, oatmeal, linseed flour, dates raisins, agave syrup, pear juice concentrate, and honey. I watched Bill eat half of one. He enjoyed it, although he only ate half because he didn’t know if maybe he’d be allergic to crickets. I think it’s safe to say that Bill can safely eat and even enjoy products made from cricket flour.

Here are some photos from his taste test… he definitely enjoyed himself.

Will I try a Swarm Bar? Maybe if I have enough German courage. Actually, I don’t really enjoy protein bars much, even if they aren’t made of crickets. I’d rather eat chocolate, and unfortunately, it shows. Here’s the link to Swarm’s Facebook page if you want to know more.

Enjoying some extra dick last night…

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Found these at the grocery store…  “extra dick” pommes.

 

Once you’ve been in Germany for awhile, you start picking up German words.  In German, the word “dick” means thick.  One might refer to “extra dick” meaning something is extra thick.  Or one could describe a person as being “dick”, but actually mean they are stout or hefty.  I’m sure German people describe me as “dick”, although thankfully I am not attuned enough to what Germans say to get my feelings hurt.

In English, the word “dick” means something other than “thick”.  Although a lot of older men were called Dick back in the day and some people wear “dickies” under their shirts, nowadays English speaking people tend to use that word for its more “slangy” definition that refers to a certain private part of the male anatomy.  And so, when English speakers see something described as “extra dick”, it gets us excited.  Especially when our spouses have been gone for over two weeks.

Bill came home last night, a few days early from his latest TDY.  I was very happy to see him, and we enjoyed steaks he bought on the way in.  He was going to cook potatoes, but the ones we had were not in very good condition.  I remembered I had these “pommes” in the freezer.  Pommes is another German/European word you will learn here, whether you want to or not.  They’re in all the restaurants, especially the Greek and German ones.

I hadn’t noticed the label when I bought these the other day, but then I saw they were “extra dick”.  I enjoy “extra dick”, especially in my potatoes and my men.  I shared this picture and many of my American friends got a kick out of it.  Yes, I know it’s inappropriate and not very ladylike, but we have to take our laughs where we can find them, right?

I don’t know what Bill and I will do today.  We have had such beautiful weather the past few days, but it changed last night and is now kind of cold and cloudy again.  I’m sure Bill will want to get used to being awake during the day again.  He worked overnights the whole time he was gone.  I’m just grateful to share my life with someone that I still miss very much when he’s gone… even after sixteen years of marriage.  It’s so good to have him home.

Meanwhile, I’ll be looking for our next cruise.

Sweet and sour coffee…

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This morning, my husband Bill left to spend the next 18 days working in another location.  As is his habit before he goes on business trips, he stocked up the groceries for me.  Yes, I know that’s crazy… he takes very good care of me.  He enjoys it and I enjoy it.

Bill noticed that the sugar was getting low.  He forgot to buy sugar at the commissary, so he went to our neighborhood Rewe to pick some up for me.  You would think this would be an easy task.  How hard is it to buy sugar?  Well, as it turns out, in Germany, it can be a real challenge, just as buying flour is a challenge for some, and buying chicken can be a downright disaster.  We have lived in Germany for a good while now… over four years this time, two years last time, plus Bill was in Bavaria in the 1980s.  But sometimes, we still make rookie mistakes.

Bill bought what he thought was sugar for baking cakes.  He put the sugar in the canister, apparently not noticing its “odd” appearance.  Then, this morning before he left to go TDY, he fixed me my usual cup of coffee.  At first, I didn’t really notice anything amiss.  But as I got closer to the bottom of the cup, I started to notice that the coffee tasted… strange.  I noticed some white stuff was clumped to the bottom, and some had floated to the top.  I thought maybe our half and half was getting old, or something.  The clumpy white stuff on the bottom of the cup reminded me of the Cremora non-dairy creamer my parents used to use in their cheap Maxwell House sludge.

I asked Bill what kind of coffee we were drinking.  He said it was Peets’ wonderful Haraz blend.  I was dismayed by that, since the Haraz is one of my favorites and the coffee just didn’t taste right.  It tasted sour to me.

It looks and tastes… strange.  It also doesn’t blend well.

Bill argued with me about the sugar, even after he pulled out a spoonful of it to show me.  It didn’t look like everyday granulated sugar.  Annoyed, he found half of a box of sugar cubes and directed me to use those.  What I will probably do is just go to the Rewe myself and buy the right sugar.  I am still capable of that much.

No… this is not the right sugar.

It contains pectin and other ingredients for making jams, jellies, and relishes.  You shouldn’t put it in coffee… especially exquisite reserve coffees.

Before he left, Bill brought me the bag and broke the news.  He had bought me sugar intended for making jams.  This is not the first time Bill has messed up my coffee.  In fact, very recently, he ruined my second cup of coffee by stirring it with a spoon he’d just used to mix ricotta cheese and fish oil for our dogs.  The tiny bit of fish oil residue left a very pervasive and disgusting taste…  Maybe I should put it on my food as a diet aid.

The simple solution, of course, would be for me to mix my own coffee or start drinking it black.  And I will be mixing my own coffee for most of March, since I will be without my love.  He likes taking care of me, though, and does an excellent job of it.  And he usually mixes my sugar and cream better than I do.  When I make my coffee, I only put in one spoon of sugar because I want to be disciplined, even though I prefer two spoons.  Bill always gives me two spoons.

Anyway, I’m sharing this cute story for my readers in Germany who shop on the economy.  When you’re buying staples, take a minute to make sure you get the right stuff.  Sweet and sour coffee is not so good.

An insider’s guide to German grocery stores…

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I’ve had the idea to write this post for… I don’t know… three years, maybe?  I actually remember when I got this idea.  I was in the city of Calw and Bill and I were at a Kaufland.  I started thinking of all the grocery stores on the economy where a non-German might find themselves shopping.  I thought to myself, “It might be useful to have a guide to some of these stores…”  But at that time, I didn’t have quite enough experience to write the post and it got pushed to the back burner as I toured beer spas and wrote restaurant reviews.

In about 24 days, Bill and I will be moving to Wiesbaden.  It will technically be our third German tour together, and his fourth in total (he was in Bavaria in the 80s, when he was a young lieutenant).  I’ve seen a lot of German grocery stores now.  Since today I was too lazy to do anything (because November is going to be a very hectic month), I’ve decided that today’s post will be about grocery stores, at least here in the Stuttgart area.

Here’s my usual disclaimer.  This post is more or less meant for newcomers.  It will consist of basic information, and does not represent all of the stores where you could be shopping.  I am posting this with the hope that readers will use German supermarkets over the commissary.  You will find that the food quality is mostly better and the cost of food is generally less expensive.  We do use the commissary for convenience and when we want items that are strictly American.  When we lived in Germany the first time, I will admit that we used the commissary more than we did our awesome local supermarket.  This time, we shop a lot more on the economy and are better off for it.

First thing’s first.  Grocery shopping in Germany is somewhat different than it is in the United States. When you shop at a German market, you either need to bring your own bags or buy bags at the store. Bill and I use RedOxx market tote bags.  I like the RedOxx bags because they are very sturdy, made in the USA (Montana, to be exact), have a lifetime guarantee, and the business is owned by a veteran.  They also sell their bags in a dozen pretty colors and will ship to APO.  We also have a bunch of their other bags, too.  Bill likes them because their design is very military and they are extremely well made.

Of course, you don’t need to use fancy bags.  The cheap, reusable bags you can get at the commissary will also do the trick quite nicely.  You will also have to do your own bagging, so after your stuff is rung up, prepare to pack your stuff.  If you do need to buy a bag, the German word is “Tüte” (tooti).

Grocery stores in Germany don’t sell medications.  If you want to buy over-the-counter drugs, you will need to visit an Apotheke (drug store).  You will often, but not always, find Apothekes near grocery stores.

In German grocery stores, you can find things like shampoo, soap, toilet paper, and detergents.  In some stores you can also find housewares, electronics, clothing, toys, and in many places, you can buy booze.  Germany also has “drink markets”, which sell all kinds of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, as well as a limited array of shelf stable groceries and other goods.

When you buy produce, in some stores you may have to weigh it and get a price tag sticker, which you’ll put on your produce so it can be scanned.  The commissary has a similar system, so you’ll get used to it quickly.

Grocery stores in Germany are mostly closed on Sundays, with a few exceptions.  In the Stuttgart area, the Edeka supermarket at the airport is open on Sunday.  Although dogs are welcome in a lot of places, including restaurants, you can’t bring your dog to the grocery store.  And, at many stores, you will need to use a euro coin to get a cart from the cart corral.  They are chained together.  When you return your cart to its proper place, you get your euro back.  If you have ever shopped at Aldi in the United States, you know of what I write.

Many grocery stores have areas where you can drop off your empty bottles.  If your store has a drink market, you can bring back the plastic bottles and crates of glass bottles (say, a case of beer), feed them into the handy machine, and it will spit out a receipt, which you can present to the cashier and get money off your order.  Speaking of cashiers… do not be surprised, especially here in Swabia, if the person ahead of you counts out exact change, even if it holds you up.  More than once, Bill and I have been behind someone who pays for groceries with a lot of coins.  Remember that in Germany, some coins are worth more than two dollars!  Be patient.  Others will be patient for you.  Also, some stores have shopper’s cards you can collect stamps on and redeem.  Frankly, I never bother with them, but some people do.  Don’t be surprised if the cashier asks you if you want one.

Also, a lot of stores will have restaurants or snack bars within them.  In fact, even some hardware stores have food available.  Our local Toom (hardware big box store) has a snackbar, of all things.  Shopping in Germany is very civilized.  Many stores also have restrooms and most don’t have a Klofrau looking for change, although that’s not always the case.

You might even find a CoinStar at your local store.  Our Real now has a CoinStar, which I think appeared somewhat recently.  After you’ve been here awhile and have collected a huge trove of coins, you’ll see how awesome that is!  My husband’s first boss dumped his collection of coins on Bill and his co-workers before he left, with the direction that they should all go out to dinner.  Someone took the time to count the coins and it added up to over 800 euros.  Bill and his former co-workers had dinner, including family members, and only spent 500 euros!  There’s still 300 euros left to use!  You will collect a lot of coins while you’re here!

Okay… now here’s a very brief guide.

General grocery stores– hypermarkets

Edeka–  I’ll start with Edeka, which is a very well-known German grocery store chain.  Many towns have an Edeka, and they are pretty much my favorite of all the usual German grocery chains.  It’s kind of a posh market, very clean, with really nice lighting and high quality products.  As of 2017, Edeka is Germany’s largest grocery store chain and holds a market share of 20.3%.  Chances are, your town has an Edeka.  If it doesn’t, chances are the next town has one.  We live in Unterjettingen and there is no Edeka in our town, but there are in Herrenberg and Nagold, both of which are less than a few miles away.  Frankly, of all of the grocery stores in Germany, Edeka is my pick.  It has everything I love about a grocery store.

Real in Jettingen.

Real– Jettingen does have a Real, which is a “hypermarket”.  Real is basically Germany’s version of Walmart.  Indeed, Real stores were originally Walmarts before Walmart was driven out of Germany.  I don’t know for certain, but I think Walmart didn’t survive here because Walmart is famously anti-union and Germans weren’t down with that.  Anyway, Real operates a number of stores in Germany and they’re a lot like Walmart, minus over the counter drugs.  You can find almost anything there, but I hate going in there because it’s usually very crowded and hectic and I experience sensory overload with every visit.  Still, lots of people love their Real, and I will admit we shop there often.  Parking at our Jettingen store is free, which is more than I can say for the Edeka in either Nagold or Herrenberg (but some Edekas do have free parking).

Kaufland– Germany’s fourth largest grocery store chain is Kaufland, which was founded in Germany back in 1984.  Kaufland now operates almost 1,300 stores in seven countries across Europe.  It reminds me a lot of Real, only with a slightly more upscale look and nicer lighting.  You will find groceries there, but you can also find housewares, electronics, and clothing.  Many locations also have drink markets.

REWE– REWE is a Cologne based grocery store chain with locations around Germany.  To be honest, I haven’t spent a lot of time shopping at REWE, but our new home has one very nearby.  There are also several locations in the Stuttgart area.  The last REWE I visited was in Wiesbaden and it reminded me a bit of Edeka, only with harsher lighting.

The actual experience of shopping at any of these grocery stores is very similar.  You typically enter through a “gate” and you have to pass through a cashier stand to exit, even if you don’t buy anything.

Discount grocery stores–

Aldi– A lot of Americans know about Aldi, because Aldi is slowly infiltrating U.S. culture.  If you’ve shopped at an American Aldi, you are probably already familiar with having to use a quarter to get a cart.  You also know that this store is no frills and has low prices.  Our town has an Aldi, but I don’t go in there very often.  It has basic stuff– frozen foods, bakery items, some beverages, ice cream, and some non food items.  It’s the kind of place you go when you need to pick up a few items.  Actually, according to Wikipedia, Aldi is Germany’s largest wine retailer.  Who knew?

Lidl– Lidl is another discount store that is slowly gaining a footprint in the American market.  Like Aldi, Lidl is very no frills, but it does have an interesting line of “American” products, which I blogged about last year.  I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the Lidl versions of American products unless you need a laugh.  However, given a choice between Aldi and Lidl, I think I’d choose Lidl, mainly because the stores seem newer and cleaner to me.

A city version of Netto.

Netto– Another discount market.  Every Netto I’ve been in has been small and no frills, with an emphasis on frozen foods, a small array of beverages, and bakery products.

Penny Markt– Again, no frills supermarket.  Emphasis on frozen food, candy, ice cream, and low prices.

Specialty markets–

Denn’s Biomarkt…

Denn’s Biomarkt– This is a national chain that specializes in “bio” (organic) products.  The Denn’s chain is represented in several local communities, including Sindelfingen, Nagold, Ludwigsburg, Stuttgart, and Vaihingen.   You can find bio fruits, vegetables, wines, and cheeses, as well as other natural products.

The Nagold Mix Markt.

Mix-Markt– This is a European market that offers products from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.  It was founded in Germany, but there are now stores all over Europe.  It’s a great place to shop for exotic wines from countries like Georgia and Moldova, both excellent wine producing countries.  Also, if you like Russian products, you can find them there.

“Feinkost” is another term with which you should familiarize yourself.  A Feinkost is translated as “delicatessen”, but in my experience, Feinkosts also offer upmarket products.  One well-known Feinkost in Stuttgart is Feinkost Böhm, which is a super fancy and expensive market downtown.  It’s fun to shop there for special occasions and to see how much they’re selling Pepperidge Farm cookies for.  Stuttgart also has the Markthalle, which has a lot of ethnic markets, meats, cheeses, produce, and desserts.  Your town might also have a Feinkost, but it may or may not be as fancy as the one in Stuttgart.

Your local town may have its own specialty markets.  You may find Turkish, Asian, Italian, Spanish, or even Portuguese specialty markets, depending on where you live.  Keep your eyes peeled, because you can find some great stuff in the little ethnic markets.

Also, many towns have produce markets that happen several mornings a week and/or on Saturday mornings.  You can also buy specialty meats at Metzgereis (butchers) and baked goods at Backereis (bakeries).  Some local areas also have farms where you can buy fresh produce, eggs, and fresh milk.  See my post “Farm Fresh” for more information about buying fresh food at farms– it’s frequently done on the honor system.  You will also find vending machines that sell things like eggs, milk, noodles, and lentils, among other things.  My “Farm Fresh” post has a video showing how to get fresh milk (which should be pasteurized at home) and pictures of the vending machines you might find in your neighborhood.

Generally speaking, I find grocery shopping in Germany to be a pleasure.  There’s always something to see and German stores offer a lot of good products, some of which will be familiar to you and others you may come to love and will miss when you’re back in the USA.  Some stores are more pleasant for me than others.  Some people love the local Real, but give me an Edeka any day.  I suspect I’ll soon be very familiar with REWE, since I know my new neighborhood has one.  Once you’ve been here awhile, you’ll be able to find a store to your liking.  If you like very fresh food, I highly recommend shopping on the economy as opposed to at the commissary.  Hope this post is helpful for a few folks!