Karim’s Brasserie for New Year’s Eve!

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Well, we made it. 2020 is over. We had a pretty typical New Year’s Eve, except we didn’t have as many fireworks. One thing we did this year that we don’t usually do was order dinner. As a matter of fact, in 2020, we ordered takeout on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. It’s not unusual for us to dine out on Thanksgiving, but we usually cook on the other days. This year, we decided we preferred to help out the local restaurants and spare ourselves from cooking and cleaning.

For New Year’s Eve, we went a bit more casual and didn’t break out the china. Karim’s Brasserie, a Moroccan restaurant in Wiesbaden, was offering a New Year’s Eve menu. They had a couple of options available– chicken or lamb. Bill likes lamb, but I don’t, so we went with chicken. For 36,50 per person, we could eat for days. Seriously, they really loaded us up with great food! Here are some photos!

We started at about 7:00pm with the appetizers. I was, of course, very familiar with the hummus, since we are big fans of it. Karim’s version was very light and creamy, yet delicately flavorful. The Zaalouk, otherwise known as Moroccan eggplant salad, was a nice change of pace for us, since we rarely eat eggplant. Neither Bill nor I are big fans of eggplant, but this was pretty good. Bill loved the Moroccan carrot salad, which was slightly sweet and offered a contrast to the spicy M’hammara, paprika cream with pomegranate syrup and walnuts. Bill especially loved the M’hammara. He likes spicy foods. The Laban by Khyar was basically a Moroccan version of t’zaziki. It consists of yogurt, cucumbers, and mint.

The chicken was delicious! It was very tender and juicy, and fell right off the bone! It was such a pleasure to try it prepared in a different way. There was a time when Bill wouldn’t eat apricots because they are supposedly bad luck for “tankers”, which is what Bill was when he was in the Army back in the early days. I love apricots, having gotten acquainted with them in Armenia, where they are very popular and delicious! They went so well with the chicken! Glad we have leftovers!

After a bit of time digesting, we tried the desserts– typically nutty and fruity, but not too sweet or heavy. It was a good way to end a fabulous New Year’s Eve repast. We will be grazing on the leftovers for days. I think we got a lot for our 73 euros. I look forward to the day when we can dine at restaurants again. Bill and I ate at Karim’s Brasserie once when we were moving to Wiesbaden and liked the food very much. We probably ought to go there more often, or at least get takeout. This was a great change of pace for us. I think it was my favorite of all three of our holiday takeout meals of 2020.

I learned about a German tradition yesterday when someone in the Pets of Wiesbaden Facebook group posted that they had come into possession of a female piglet who was wandering around Clay Kaserne, one of the two U.S. military installations in Wiesbaden. I had never heard this before, but apparently in Germany, it’s good luck to encounter a pig on New Year’s Eve. Typically, Germans give out pigs made of marzipan with a penny or a four leaf clover in its mouth. Alternatively, sometimes people put a freshly washed piglet in a basket and pass it around. Anyone who touches it will have good luck and a “happy year”.

I can’t be sure, but it sounds like the piglet who was found yesterday might have been intended to participate in this custom and somehow escaped. She was found on the Army post and advertised on Facebook, as none of the surrounding farms would claim her. Eventually her rescuers found her a farm to go to. I’m not absolutely sure, but it sounds like she’s headed to a sanctuary. I sure hope so, anyway. Anyway, a lot of people got a kick out of seeing her, and I learned something new. I’m sure the military police are now checking the fence around Clay Kaserne to see if there are any breeches. It’s more likely someone brought her on post, but it’s possible there’s a hole somewhere.

According to the link I shared earlier in this post, we violated German tradition by having chicken on New Year’s Eve. Evidently, it’s verboten to eat poultry in Germany, due to a very old superstition. However, people in the Rhein area apparently didn’t get the message, as a lot of people do eat goose on New Years’s. I am not in the habit of eating goose, anyway… but I never turn down chicken unless it’s prepared with the food I never eat– mushrooms.

Toward the end of the evening– later than he’d intended, since he’d forgotten– Bill called his mom and we visited on Skype. It was great to talk to her. I also chatted with a cousin. I probably should call my mom today, too.

Bill brought our landlords champagne and a bag of lentils, which are also considered good luck/good health promotion on New Year’s in Germany. We had a very short fireworks show that lasted about twenty minutes, since fireworks weren’t on sale this year due to COVID-19. It suited us fine, since Bill was struggling to stay awake. We also had some snow, although it was all melted by the time we got up today. It was kind of strange watching fireworks go off as it snowed. This morning, we slept in… it was the first time in a long time I woke up after sunrise!

So far, 2021 is off to a good start. I pray that it’s a better year than 2020 was! Happy New Year, everybody! Keep the faith, and stay healthy and sane!

This move has been very lucky so far…

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I can’t help but compare our move to Germany in 2007 to our move to Germany in 2014.  In 2007, there were no Facebook groups to help people moving to Europe.  There was a big learning curve and we arrived here not really knowing what the hell was going on.  We spent six weeks in a rather crappy hotel that wasn’t all that convenient, but it was very pet friendly.

This time, we spent one week in a nicer hotel and moved to a small apartment, where we still stay until early September, when our new house will be available to move into.  The apartment isn’t perfect, but it beats living in a hotel room.  At least we can cook and if the person who left their laundry in the machine ever picks it up, we can do laundry too.

I don’t think there are quite as many people here as there were last time, though you’d never know it based on parking.  Last time we were here, a bunch of people were going to Iraq and Afghanistan.  That’s no longer the case and the military is cutting back.  It’s expensive to move to Germany, so I’m guessing not as many slots are being filled by military folks.  Bill has said that the office where he works is mostly staffed with contractors like him.  And the Department of Defense is not reimbursing to move people here, so those who are here will have a lot of work because it’s not so easy to move here if you have a family and don’t have money saved.

I have a feeling we could stay here a long while if we want to.  There’s always a chance my hunch is wrong.  I bat about 500 when it comes to these things.  But Obama will be in office until January 2017, which means things probably won’t change too much budget wise.

Anyway, I’m hoping there won’t be any more moves for at least a couple of years.  I hope this time, we’ll get to enjoy Europe for longer than barely two years.

The pooping nun… AKA Caganer!

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In April 2009, Bill and I paid a visit to Barcelona, Spain.  While we were there, I did some shopping.  If you read my blogs, you might have noticed that I have a disgusting affection for scatological humor.  Therefore, I was delighted when I first encountered caganers.

What is a caganer, you ask?  It’s a sympathetic character from Catalan tradition.  According to the Web site, Caganer.com, the caganer was an obliged figure in the Christmas cribs of the eighteenth century.  At the time, people believed that the caganer’s “deposits” would enrich and fertilize the soil, thus promoting healthy crops.  The caganer was also supposed to bring good health and calm to the body and soul.  In other words, having a caganer was supposed to be good luck.

I purchased two caganers on our trip to Spain.  One is a painted tile of a shepherd pooping.  It’s hanging in my bathroom, of course.  The other is a small pooping nun.  Last night, Zane woke up in the middle of the night and threw up on the rug in our bedroom.  Bill took him out, but on his way to the door, he rubbed up against my nun and knocked her off her perch.  She broke in several pieces.  Fortunately, I was able to glue her back together.

Now I have an excuse to go back to Barcelona.  Not only is it a beautiful city full of interesting architecture, amazing food, beautiful beaches, and vibrant culture; it’s also a place where I can replace my broken pooping nun caganer!