customs, markets

Breckenheim’s very first village market…

Yesterday, something happened that I’ve been eagerly anticipating for awhile. Our little village had its very first neighborhood market on the Dorfplatz. It was also the first day of September, which means that, right on cue, the weather started to change in earnest. I’ve lived in Germany for ten years of my life and it never fails. As of September 1, it immediately gets cooler in Germany, even if it was broiling hot the week prior. Usually, by the 15th, I consistently need to wear a jacket, and have put away the air conditioners until summer comes around again. In fact, just a few minutes ago, I pulled the air conditioning hose inside and closed the window in my office for the first time in weeks. It’s really cooling down outside. I hope that means we’ll soon get some rain.

Some people might not think the neighborhood market is a big deal. I mentioned it on social media, and two of my American friends posted that their towns in the United States are doing the “same” thing. With all due respect to my American friends, I don’t think it is quite the same. Remember, I spent a good 35 of my 50 years in the USA, and have lived in several states, so I’m in a position to know something about life there. I would be very surprised if I went to a market in, say, my home state of Virginia, and found someone selling fresh harissa, locally produced sausages, or unpasteurized cheeses, which are usually pretty hard to find in the US.

I would also be surprised if they were pouring local wines. In the States, there’s a big emphasis on alcohol laws. Anyone appearing to be under 21 will be carded. This isn’t to say there are no booze laws here, but the drinking age is lower, while the driving age is higher… and fewer people drive here, anyway. And drinking seems to be more of a normal part of society, just as smoking is. In our case, the market was just down the hill from our house, and all of the people at the market are literally our neighbors.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t wonderful markets in the United States. I just don’t think they’re quite the same there as they are here. The market that happens in Wiesbaden is totally different than the market we had last night, which was very small and felt more like a wine stand with a few vendors selling their wares. However, I have a feeling that once the market catches on, it will be bigger, and there will be more things to buy than what was available last night. As it was, there was a flower vendor, someone selling vegetables, and a Turkish Feinkost represented. And the wine kiosk was open, so they were selling wine, beer, Schorles, and other non-alcoholic beverages. It looked like they had the usual Brats and Brotchens, too. I had Noyzi and Arran with me, so I didn’t get very close to the action.

Maybe it sounds petty, but it kind of annoys me when people back home assume they know how it is here… and claim it’s the “same” as it is in the United States. As an American who has lived many years in America, I know it isn’t, really. But then, a lot of things in the USA are not the same as they are in Germany. For instance, it’s pretty hard to find some of my favorite American style comfort foods over here. I am fortunate enough to shop at the military commissary, order from Amazon.com, and have stuff come through APO (government mail for US citizens). I regularly buy high quality grits from a farm in South Carolina, which are vastly superior to the Quaker quick or instant grits “crapola” in the commissary. I wouldn’t be able to find grits at all in a German store. Instead, I’d find polenta, which is not really the same. It’s only somewhat similar. Grits are also NOT semolina (Cream of Wheat). They are made of ground up hominy, which is corn.

The boys were amused by the sights and sounds of our little market.

It’s been my experience that Europeans tend to be more community minded than most people in the United States are, but of course there are always exceptions. And I’ve found that Breckenheim is a lot more of a friendly community than either of the towns we lived in near Stuttgart. Maybe it’s because of the wine. Stuttgart does have wineries, but the emphasis in the southern part of Germany is more on beer. Up here near the Rhein, it’s wine country. Maybe it’s because Hesse is not Swabia. Seriously… there is a different mindset in the Swabian region of Germany. It’s not that the people aren’t nice. They are. It’s just that it seems to take longer to make friends down there. The mood is a bit more insular, especially in smaller towns. There’s a different dialect that even native Germans sometimes have trouble understanding. And people, on the whole, seem to be more reserved and formal than they are in Hesse. In that sense, Germany IS like the United States, because as we all know, there are many different cultures within the regions of the US, too.

Anyway, below are some photos from last night. I didn’t get as close as I would have liked to, because we brought the dogs with us. Noyzi still gets pretty freaked out by strangers, although I can tell his instinct is to be very friendly. He’s still overcoming traumas from his youth, though, and that takes time and experience. I was proud of him last night, even if he was a little spooked by everything. Overall, he behaved very well. Arran, of course, couldn’t care less. He’s getting pretty old and is now unimpressed by a lot of things that used to set him off. Next weekend, Breckenheim will host its first wine fest. That should be fun, especially since it will be easy to haul home purchases from the Dorfplatz. Last night also heralded the opening of Breckenheim’s public toilet! I know that was exciting, too. The men of the village have been all over setting it up for weeks now.

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Farm Fresh Too…

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-W√ľrttemberg, 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.

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anecdotes

My ass is getting a lot of presents lately…

I have not made it a secret that Bill loves to cook for me. Lately, he’s been knocking himself out. I don’t have a lot to talk about in terms of traveling or eating at restaurants, but I do have some enchanting food pics. I’m beginning to think I should send Bill to chef’s school.

We’ve also found a few new online sources of food and beverages. Good thing he doesn’t mind fat chicks. It’s hard to believe that when we met, I was the better cook. Some of my friends don’t think Bill is real. Trust me, he is… and common sense would have told me to stay away from him. Fortunately, for once I didn’t like practicality stand in the way of a good love story.

Feast your eyes!

I am now at the tail end of my updating project. Hopefully, I will be finished updating old posts today or tomorrow. And then, everything that gets posted on the Facebook page from this blog will be fresh— fresh as Bill’s baked bread!

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Visiting the Naturparkmarkt in Nagold…

A couple of weeks ago, someone in the local Facebook group posted about the Naturparkmarkt, a market that has been going to different towns in the Black Forest region.  A couple of weeks ago, it was in a town about 20 kilometers from Jettingen.  I was tempted to go, but it was raining that day.  Then I noticed that on June 19th, the market would be coming to Nagold, a cute little town about four kilometers from Jettingen.  Bill and I made plans to go and just got home from the small but mighty market.  Despite some clouds, we spent some euros and brought home quite a haul of fresh food and cosmetics made from honey.

The lovely thing about Nagold on Sundays is that parking is free.

I love going to markets.  They’re always very festive and the food is so fresh and colorful.  Today’s market was pretty small and there weren’t very many people there, which kind of made it better.  Many of the vendors were allowing people to taste their products before purchasing.  Bill and I ended up with mustards, jams, bread, sausages, wine, strawberries, cherries, and cheeses.  Feast your eyes!

Our first stop was at a little stand where a dirndl clad lady was selling cheeses, sausages, and many interesting mustards.  We ended up buying five exotic flavored mustards featuring everything from dill to whiskey.  Here’s an obligatory shot of Bill helping himself.

It wasn’t very crowded…

Another stand featured some delicious jams, jellies, and marmalades.

A tour is going on at 3:00pm.

 

We ended up going to the river, where a band from a music school was playing.  It sounded like they were playing “Superstar” from Jesus Christ Superstar.  Just as we approached, they broke for lunch.  Too bad.

Nagold is such a cute town.  There are flowers everywhere, as well as many entertaining water fowl.

The band.

Cute little kiosks selling lunch.

 

After we strolled back across the bridge to the market, we stopped at a stand where a very friendly guy was selling products made from honey.  He didn’t realize we were English speakers and was rattling off all sorts of information about the lotions, salves, and creams he was selling.  When Bill explained that we only speak a little German, he called his wife over.  But then she and another guy at the next stand said we didn’t need translation!  They were really interested in knowing what we were doing in Nagold.   I still don’t speak a lot of German, but I am finding that I understand a lot more than I used to.  Bill is fairly conversant.

The honey guy.

I got a kick out of the Queen Elizabeth and Albert Einstein waving dolls.  They reminded of me of my Margaret Thatcher nutcracker.  ūüėČ

This stand selling sausages was extremely popular.  I didn’t have to pressure Bill too hard to pick up some deer and wild pork sausages.

 

One very kind lady was selling wines.  We stopped to talk to her and tried three of the several wines she offered.  She told us if we liked her wines, we could just send her an email and she’d bring us orders when she visits her mother in Nagold.  I love that about living here.  You can strike up a conversation with local farmers or vendors and they can hook you up with some great locally made products.

Just last week I got an email from a small vintner in France.  Last time we lived in Germany, we happened to purchase some wine from them at a market in Tuebingen.  We got on their mailing list and used to buy wine from them at the Ludwigsburg market.  For the next five years, while we were back in the States, I’d get emails from them telling us where they were selling their wines.  I’d sigh wistfully and miss being in Germany.  The emails eventually ceased until I got one out of the blue last week.  We’re picking up an order in Ludwigsburg during the first weekend in July.

It’s a pleasure to live near so many cute towns.  If you like farm fresh products, I recommend looking out for the Naturparkmarkt.  The one in Nagold ends at 5:00 today, but there will be other markets in towns around the Black Forest all summer.

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Food extravaganza in Nagold!

As I woke up this morning, I said to Bill, “You know, I think we should go to the market in Nagold this morning.”

“Do you think they’re still going now?” he asked.

“Yeah. ¬†Why not?” ¬†I responded.

Bill was game, so we went this morning and were rewarded with a large haul of delicious fresh food. Have a look!

The tower at 9:00am…

We were immediately attracted to the first fruit and vegetable stand we encountered. ¬†Bill got us some strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. ¬†He didn’t see the blackberries until he’d already paid. ¬†Bill loves blackberries. ¬†I could take ’em or leave ’em.

Pretty flowers.  I amused myself by watching the fountain.  For once, no kids were playing in it.

Plums!  I love how beautiful everything looks.

Bill checks out the beans.  I think he got some of those, along with peppers.

I had to ask what the green stuff is. ¬†I think it’s a mix of broccoli and cauliflower.

Who could resist?  Not us.

Another shot of the fountain.

We tore ourselves away from the fruits and vegetables and made our way down the street. ¬†I couldn’t help but notice the heavenly scent of salami. ¬†A very well stocked metzgerei was doing a brisk business nearby. ¬†Bill and I determined we needed to pick up some wurst, but only after we checked out the rest of the market. ¬†
I spotted a stand where a young man was selling deer salami and sausages. ¬†Bill loves venison products. ¬†I don’t like deer meat, but I like to encourage Bill to treat himself. ¬†I think the young guy was getting a kick out of us, especially when I said “You know you want to.” to Bill. ¬†The same guy was also apparently a beekeeper, so we bought some honey as well. ¬†The French honey we bought last year is almost done.

Next stop was the fish market… we picked up a couple of whole trouts and a salmon filet.

Bill went to town at a cheese stand, even as a rather impatient older lady kept pushing in front of him. ¬† ¬†The lady doing the selling was laughing as Bill shuffled awkwardly to the left and ordered more cheese. ¬†Wish we’d picked up some butter, too, not that I need to be eating it.

Pretty flowers.

We made our way back to the metzgerei with the heavenly cold cuts.  Bill bought a nice selection of three sliced meats.  Lunch should be good today.

Good stuff!

We finished with a stop at the bakery, where we got some brotchen and a few BerlinersРGerman jelly doughnuts!  Yum!

My first Berliner.  Believe it or not, I never had one here in Germany before this morning.  I usually talk myself out of them.  It was worth the wait!

God, I love living in Germany.  We need to hit the market more often.

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